The Dark Tower – Part VI

February 4, 2011 at 1:06 am (Uncategorized)

Before I start ranting about the end, let me list a few more things that bothered me about Volume VII.

  • Randall Flagg. We know the guy is pure evil and can hardly be killed. We know he’s destroying worlds, we know he’s practically immortal. But when he encounters Mordred, he relies on some thinking cap (I know this has turned up in another King book but I haven’t read this one – say sorry), not realising that Mordred can still read his thoughts. And then, bam! Mordred uses his telepathic powers to make Flagg gouge out his own eyes and feed them to Morderd. He makes him try to tear out his tongue and then kills him. What kind of death is this for an arch-villain??? Flagg deserved better than that.
  • Mordred’s telepathic powers. We see him use those on Flagg but along his pursuit of Roland and Susannah, he seems to lose them. It could have been so easy for him to ensnare and kill them, but what does he do? Sits in the dark, watches them and sulks until he finally decides to attack and is taken down by a billy-bumbler and a couple of bullets. Weak. Really, really weak.
  • The Crimson King’s Castle. Roland and Susannah reach the castle only to confront three guys who look like Stephen King. Argh. This wasn’t necessary. As important as this scene is, it would have worked as well if the three guys had not looked like King. Another outburst of narcissism.
  • The Crimson King himself. When reading the books, it became clear that the Crimson King was the ultimate enemy, he who sought to destroy the Beams that supported the Tower, thus destroying the Tower and all worlds. A very powerful being, it seemed. But what do we get? A guy looking a bit like Santa Claus entrapped on a balcony of the Tower, throwing sneetches and trying to destroy Roland. At that point, Roland already knew that Patrick, the guy he and Susannah saved from Dandelo, had the power to draw pictures and erase what he had drawn – not only in the picture, but in real life. The “battle” between Roland and the Crimson King rages on for a couple of pages, the King throwing sneetches which Roland shoots while trying to resist the call of the Tower. While reading this, I kept thinking “Come on, make Patrick draw a picture of the King and then erase it so that the King will be gone for good”. In the end, Roland has the same idea. Yay. No epic battle there. Just a simple eraser. Cheap. Very cheap.
  • Susannah. I never cared much about her – I was indifferent towards her. But I started to dislike her when she and Roland finally reached the Tower. I understand why she wanted to leave; she obviously realised that there were more important things than the Tower. At the same time, she becomes all bitchy toward Roland – gets angry when he shows his relief that Oy and Patrick will stay with him. Also, I didn’t understand how she acted when Eddie died. At first, she was all teary. Then, when Eddie was moved to a room where he could die, she became all calm, and on the train to Fedic she briefly wonders why she can’t cry. And then she goes on. This isn’t how a loving and grieving woman should be portrayed. My guess is that King simply didn’t know how to show her grief. So he left it at that, not caring that Susannah turned into a cold human being. And when Susannah and Roland close in on the Tower, he decides to let her go – which is quite logical since Roland has started his quest on his own – at least when we first meet him -, and so he has to finish it on his own.

After having defeated both Mordred and the Crimson King, Roland is finally able to progress towards the Tower. The chapter ends with Roland calling out the names of all those he has lost – heartbreaking -, the door slams shut and Patrick is left all alone among a field of roses. At this point, I was angry once more – this couldn’t be the ending, could it? I wasn’t ready to accept that I had read about 4000 pages just to see Roland enter the Tower and then – nothing. However, we are provided with an epilogue – Susannah arrives in New York after Patrick has drawn a door for her, she finds Eddie (0r some version of Eddie) and Jake (or some version of Jake). This was beautiful. It reconciled me with Eddie and Jake’s death earlier on.

And now comes the Coda. King states that his readers should stop here, that the ending he will provide won’t satisfy his audience, that it won’t be a happy ending. I really wish I had stopped at this point. Sure – I was angry with the first ending that had Roland entering the Tower, with the door slamming shut. But it would have been a far better ending than what King presented in the Coda. I think he knew that his readers would read on and shun his advice. I couldn’t resist it for even a minute. So I read on. I read how Roland entered different rooms of the Tower, recounting his life, and I was eager to find out what would be in the last room at the top.

At the top, Roland finds a door with his name on it. He opens it. He sees the desert – the desert introduced in Volume I, The Gunslinger. And he realises that he has to do it all over again. He has sought and found the Tower before. We don’t know how many times he has had to do this, and we don’t get an explanation why he has to go through this all over again. Remember the quote I provided in my first post – the Man in Black/Walter telling Roland that he’d not remember, that what hurt him once would hurt him twice and that this was the beginning’s end. It all comes full circle, and I can see why King chose this ending for the series.

But I don’t like it. In fact, I hate it. It’s pointless. It’s cheap. We don’t get any explanation why Roland has to endure his quest over and over again. We can only guess. One guess would be that the fact that Roland let Jake drop to his death in The Gunslinger is crucial. He puts the Tower above everything else, even human life. He leaves the Horn of Eld on Jericho Hill even though his dreams tell him that he needs to put the Horn and both of his guns at the door of the Tower. Roland ends up in the desert again but this time he has the Horn of Eld with him so he must have done something right. At least, there’s some hope that this time, Roland will get it right. That there will be salvation.

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