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Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
Book Name: Wolves of the Calla
Author: Stephen King
Publisher(s): Grant
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: November 4, 2003

Onto book 5 of The Dark Tower series and King brings us back to the ka-tet we know and love. After the hectic craziness of The Waste Lands and the foundation-shaking revelations of Wizard and Glass, King decides to calm things down a bit with this entry into the series. The book concerns itself with the people of Calla Bryn Sturgis, a town that very strangely seems to be made up almost entirely of twins. The horrible twist is that every 20 or so years the Calla are visited upon by the Wolves, a group of faceless, nameless, and soulless individuals (seemingly indestructible) who proceed to steal one of each twin in a certain age range and take them into Thunderclap, a dark realm on the horizon. After a short period these children are then returned to their families but in a state known as ‘roont’, meaning they can no longer think, can barely talk, and struggle to look after themselves. This is the dilemma our favourite ka-tet finds themselves in and one they feel bound to resolve. Thus the central focus of this volume is decided upon, as Roland and his friends seek to prepare the town for the oncoming wolves, and the conflict at the climax of the situation.

As implied by the books setting, this novel takes a bit of a back step from the main plot for what I became to think of as a ‘side-quest’, for lack of a better word. The actual hunt for the Dark Tower is only touched upon in rather brief scenes and left for quite a significant amount of time (the time-span of this book comes to about a month). Yes, the actual predicament of the Wolves does ultimately have a link to the main quest but it certainly doesn’t appear that way for a sizeable amount of time. What this does sadly become then is a rather slow-burner of a novel, where not much in the way of progress is made by our main characters. Instead, there is rather a lot of waiting and preparing that seems to take up many more pages than the concept really warrants. This contributes to a rather slow book in comparison to the couple that came before and due to being one of the longest books of the series, it really does show in places. I felt if the length had been somewhat truncated and not so filled with fluff we may have come out with a stronger novel. But that is not the way it went.

That isn’t to say that there weren’t strong moments in this book. For example, the addition of Callahan to the roster of characters was very welcome. His backstory actually took up quite a bit of page-time and was an enjoyable yarn from start to finish. I loved the implications which come with Callahan’s involvement in the story. This builds up to quite the revelation in the novel’s closing pages. A wonderful idea and story on King’s part, and Callahan is just a great character in general. Someone who brings his own relevance to the task at hand and adds more depth to the ka-tet.

Roland takes a bit of a backseat in this book as well after the focus of Wizard and Glass being almost entirely on him. Eddie however comes to the fore, receiving a sizeable amount of focus and making it feel almost that he is the central protagonist every now and again. Jake’s relationship with Benny is heart-warming and helps develop his own character nicely. Oy continues to be an amazing part of the series (I love him).

Now Susannah’s plotline I had mixed feelings about. It seems as if King wanted a resurgence of her plot from The Drawing of the Three. I was uncomfortable with its revival. The multiple personality aspect of Susannah’s character was dealt with in Drawing. Put to bed with unfaltering conclusiveness. The repetition of this crisis felt a bit contrived in this novel which was a shame. I felt myself going ‘Oh no, here we go again’ rather than ‘Wow, this is new, interesting, and exciting!’ The plot legitimatises why this change occurs in Susannah’s psychology towards the end which made me feel a tad more lenient towards it, but it did otherwise mar my enjoyment of the story up to that point.

The writing remains wonderful, with King’s superb style sucking the reader in once again. Although this book was quite long, there is never any moment when you feel inclined to put the book down. King weaves a tale in exquisite form and his story of the Dark Tower continues to spur the reader’s interest and fascination in this wacky, insane, and wonderful world that he has created for us. The characters are wonderful. The genuine love and concern they all share for one another is very moving and lovely to behold. To find such a diverse group of people who come together with one goal in mind and the determination to work together to achieve it is inspirational to say the least.

The Dark Tower is ever elusive. The series long, but intoxicating.

I must find out what happens next.


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