The Man In Black

All posts tagged The Man In Black

Wizard And Glass (The Dark Tower #4) – Stephen King

Published April 1, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Jake’s pet bumbler survive Blaine the Mono’s final crash, only to find themselves stranded in an alternate version of Topeka, Kansas, one that has been ravaged by the superflu virus. While following the deserted I-70 toward a distant glass palace, they hear the atonal squalling of a thinny, a place where the fabric of existence has almost entirely worn away. While camping near the edge of the thinny, Roland tells his ka-tet a story about another thinny, one that he encountered when he was little more than a boy. Over the course of one long magical night, Roland transports us to the Mid-World of long-ago and a seaside town called Hambry, where Roland fell in love with a girl named Susan Delgado, and where he and his old tet-mates Alain and Cuthbert battled the forces of John Farson, the harrier who—with a little help from a seeing sphere called Maerlyn’s Grapefruit—ignited Mid-World’s final war.

What did I think?:

I thoroughly enjoyed my re-read of the Dark Tower series last year and it’s finally time for my review of the fourth book, Wizard And Glass which just happens to be my favourite book written within this epic world. As a result, I apologise in advance for the nauseating gushing which is bound to occur as I talk about this wonderful, unforgettable addition to the series. See – there I go already!! My first memories of Wizard And Glass are actually connected with a stay in hospital when I was nineteen years old, undergoing investigations for unexplained abdominal pain. My amazing mother bought this book for me, knowing I was an already avid King fan, not realising that it was the fourth book in the series and I hadn’t read the other three yet. To be fair, it can *almost* be read as a stand-alone, despite the fact that it carries on immediately after the dramatic events and a nail-biting cliffhanger of an ending in The Waste Lands. 

Stephen King, author of Wizard And Glass, the fourth book in the Dark Tower series.

I say that it could potentially be read as a stand-alone because Wizard And Glass is actually Roland Deschain’s story from when he was a young man, fell deeply in love for the first time and earned his reputation as a formidable gunslinger. Obviously I would definitely advocate starting this series from the beginning (although if you’ve read my previous reviews, please don’t be too put off by the first book, The Gunslinger! It gets a LOT better i.e. The Drawing Of The Three) but because it goes back to Roland’s tumultuous past, it reads like an entire story all on its own. From the very first page, as Roland starts to tell his story to his ka-tetSusannah, Eddie, Jake and the adorable Oy to the last page, where his story is complete, we learn so much more about our strong male lead and what events have happened in his life to make him the man he is today. The reader sees a much more vulnerable, emotional, tender and human side of Roland and because of this, begins to fully understand why he now hides all his feelings behind such a hard and unyielding exterior.

Susan Delgado, love interest of Roland in Wizard And Glass

Image from: https://darktower.fandom.com/wiki/Susan_Delgado

My heart went out to Roland from the very first moment of this book. I love the way in which he opens up to the people who become his dearest and most loyal friends by sharing with them such an important and life-altering part of his past. His story is moving, devastating, eye-opening and thrilling but more than anything, it’s impossible to put this book down without feeling such a deep sense of longing to pick it right back up again. It’s always a pleasure to sit down with one of King’s books of course for me personally, but there was something about Wizard and Glass that affected me in all the right ways. His strength of characterisation is superb as always but he has a real gift for writing exciting action sequences tempered with softer, more gentle moments between the huge cast of characters that seem to come at just the right time. It allows the reader to recover from the frantic, fast pace of the narrative and appreciate the stories and personalities behind each individual we meet and what their motives, hopes and dreams for the future are.

I truly believe you won’t find characters as personable and delightful – Roland and his buddies Alain and Cuthbert, the sweet innocence and determined bravery of Susan and Sheemie and the villainous, dastardly elements of Rhea the witch and The Coffin Hunters to name a few. However, what I find absolutely incredible is how King manages to give each individual their own qualities and unique personality, despite the enormous cast that he has created across the series in general. This is a novel packed full of adventure, thrills and surprises combined with the author’s classic element of making the reader feel just a little bit uncomfortable but nevertheless, fully invested and enthralled with the world that he has built.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP SOON: Wolves Of The Calla (The Dark Tower #5)

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The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1) – Stephen King

Published July 27, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.

This new edition of The Gunslinger has been revised and expanded throughout by King, with new story material, in addition to a new introduction and foreword.

What did I think?:

Those of you who are long-time followers of my blog may not be surprised to see this book right here being reviewed but you might also think: “Hey Beth, as one of Stephen King’s biggest fans, how come you’re JUST getting round to reviewing this series?” It’s true, I am a massive King junkie but this isn’t my first experience with the world of The Dark Tower. In fact this series is a re-read for me, the first time I read it was in my pre-blogging days and at the moment, I’m going through my favourites shelves and reading one favourite book alongside a main “new” read and a work of non fiction. So this was a perfect opportunity to re-visit Roland Deschain and his chums one more time and remember all the things I loved most about this series and of course, review it as I go along!

Stephen King, author of The Gunslinger, the first novel in his epic Dark Tower series.

Now I’m not sure what you’ve heard about The Gunslinger previously but I’m just going to give you my opinion and my experience with it – I would truly love to hear your own and get a discussion going about it. This is a book that seems to divide people and put people off and I have to admit, I was one of those people. I read The Gunslinger originally many moons ago, didn’t enjoy it at all, turned my nose up and vowed never to continue with the series. Until a good friend begged me to try again, swearing that it got a hell of a lot better with the second book, The Drawing Of The Three. Man oh man, am I glad I listened? So what I’m trying to say, (very inarticulately!) is that if you’re like me, read this book and thought: “Nope!” PLEASE just try the second book. If you don’t like the second book, fair enough, this fantasy series might not be for you but if I hadn’t continued, I would have missed out on so much. The world-building is second to none, the characters up there with the best King has ever created and the ending of the seventh book? Well, the less said about that right now the better!

Idris Elba in the recent Dark Tower movie adaptation. Which has been panned by the critics but again, don’t let it put you off! (Am I selling this series at all do you think?!)

The Gunslinger is a very short little book weighing in at 231 pages in paperback format so it’s really not going to take you too long to read. It’s the story of Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger and in this book, he’s chasing the mysterious Man In Black across the desert for some unknown purpose. We know Roland has suffered severe hardships in his life and we know he’s on a quest to reach The Dark Tower but we don’t really know WHY. Is it necessary to read this story or can you just skip on to the second in the series? To be honest, I think it is an important read – it sets up the main players in the story, focuses on an important event that becomes very important for two of the main characters in the series and ends on the same beach where The Drawing Of The Three begins.

How did I find reading it a second time? I have to be fair and say I enjoyed it more. I think when you read it the first time you don’t have a clue what’s going on, what this strange world is and things are just incredibly confusing. Have no fear, this series is one major jigsaw puzzle and the pieces do start to slot into place, one by one, eventually. Patience is a big ask for this series, it can get frustrating and you wonder at the vague references and tenuous connections BUT if you’re a fan of the slow reveal and anticipation, by the end it all becomes worth it, I promise. On my second reading, I was so familiar with the world, I could just settle in and enjoy the writing and events for what they were without getting annoyed by not understanding anything. Is it the best novel in the series? Not by a long shot and even Stephen King says himself, if he could go back and re-write it, he would. Personally, I’m so glad I persevered with the series, the rewards for doing so are fantastic and will hopefully make you glad you did too.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP SOON: The Drawing Of The Three (The Dark Tower #2)