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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower VII) by Stephen King. Hampton Falls, New Hampshire: Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc., 2004. ISBN: 1-880418-62-2

Finally, and at long last indeed, the seventh and ultimate volume of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, the first volume of which was published back in 1982. Has it been worth the wait? For series fans, undoubtedly the answer is yes. And for anyone, like myself, who is especially fond of the series idea, following the same characters and storyline through multiple volumes, this is one of the top exemplars of the genre.

In any multi-volume epic tale like this, the danger is of a let-down as the final act is completed, the ever-present, ever-delayed goal finally reached. Will Roland make it to the Dark Tower, which has been his goal throughout the entire series? We're certain he will, but what will he find there? What has been the point of this extended and heroic marathon adventure series?

King resolves this dilemma by further intensifying the circular recursive elements of the story he began to exploit in the last volume, the Song of Susannah. Roland and one of his companions, Jake this time, go to visit the author, Stephen King himself, once again, only this time their goal is to save King's life, to keep him from being killed in the auto accident with which the previous volume ended, sparing his life so that he can complete his task of writing the story that has brought them into being. What Roland finds at the top of the tower is the ultimate recursion. I won't say any more than that lest I be accused of acting as a spoiler. Suffice it to say that it provides one final inevitable twist to the tale.

King also allows himself to play a real role in the lives of his own characters, leaving signs, clues and artifacts for them to find in the alternate universe where they are playing out their fate.

Another theme of the final volume is one of goodbyes. Just as Roland gathered his "ka-tet" or group of dedicated companions, so now the companions are dispersed, some dying, some leaving. But in the Dark Tower's multiverse of possible universes, it is always possible to travel to some other when or where, where one can encounter your friends all over again in different guises or circumstances.

The entire series is highly recommended, especially for anyone who loves a good story that just doesn't end.


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