I seem to remember a saying…
One about all good things…
Something happens to them, I hear…
On an unrelated note, do you ever feel like your life is on infinite repeat, and it seems like you are destined to keep repeating yourself, because you can never get it right? And don’t you just hate that?
Well, I digress, it seems…
Time to get back on the subject: our favorite ka-tet!
And reunions…boy, do I love reunions!
And did I tell you that bittersweet is one of my favorite flavors? Obviously, or I wouldn’t read the Dark Tower series so many times, and hope against hope that things will be different this time (even though I know they won’t be).
And if insanity is the act of repeating the same act over and over again, and expecting different results…well then, I am a fucking loony, and proud of it, say thank ya!
So yes, I have now completed my fifth re-read of this series. And still, the magic remains. Still, I cry tears for all of those lost. Still, I hope against hope, that things will be different, and I am still crushed when they are not.
But I think that this is why these books are magic: they still invoke the same emotions in me, even after all of these years. Obviously, only magical books can do that when you re-read them, right?
With that being said, here is my review of the last bit of magic, the final book in the series, simply titled The Dark Tower.
The Dark Tower begins where Song of Susannah left off: Susannah and Mia are in a restaurant known as The Dixie Pig and are preparing to give birth to Mia’s un-human baby. Jake and Pere Callahan have arrived at the Dixie Pig and are desperately searching for Susannah in a futile attempt to rescue her. Roland and Eddie are still stranded in 1977 Maine and attempting to return to Mid-World so that the quest may be continued.
Mia begins to go into labor to deliver her baby, and Susannah plots to escape her prison so that she may be reunited with her friends. Mia delivers her baby, who is named Mordred, relatively quickly. Mia is overjoyed when the baby is born, but that is short-lived once the baby (who is clearly not human), changes into a spider and devours Mia. Susannah is able to steal the gun of one of the Low Men who was present at the delivery of Mordred. Susannah shoots and kills all of the Low Men present in the delivery room. Susannah also shoots Mordred, but Mordred escapes, with only one spider leg shot off by Susannah.
Jake and Father Callahan make their way toward the delivery room, but are accosted by Low Men and vampires. Jake receives a telepathic message from Roland and Eddie via Father Callahan ordering him to move on ahead. Father Callahan stays behind and battles the vampires. Realizing that he is outnumbered, Father Callahan commits suicide to avoid being transformed into a vampire, and therefore eternal damnation.
Still stranded in 1977 Maine, Roland and Eddie agree that they must seek help, and that John Cullum would be the man for the job. It turns out that Cullum has not left town, as Eddie is able to reach him by telephone. Roland and Eddie meet with Cullum, and tell him their tale. Cullum agrees to meet with Susannah’s godfather, Moses Carver, and Aaron Deepneau, so that they may form the Tet Corporation. Roland gives Cullum Aunt Talitha’s cross, so that he may be able to identify himself to Carver and Deepenau. The purpose of the Tet Corporation will be two-fold: to protect Stephen King and to sabotage Sombra Corporation whenever possible. Roland and Eddie then make their way back to the woods in Lovell, and are teleported to Fedic where they attempt to reunite with Jake, Oy and Susannah.
Jake searches for Susannah, and discovers her in the Dixie Pig. Jake encounters a mind trap which gives life to his fears. However, Jake switches bodies with Oy, and is able to avoid this trap and defeat the Low Men. Jake is then reunited with Susannah, and later Roland and Eddie. The ka-tet determines that they must travel through one of the cross-dimensional doors located in Fedic, so that they may return to Mid-World and resume their quest.
Mordred, in the meantime, has been growing at a rapid rate, and spying on Roland and his friends while hiding in Fedic. Mordred encounters Randall Flagg, who attempts to woo Mordred to his side. Mordred sees through Flagg’s trickery, and immediately kills Flagg, later eating the body for nourishment. Mordred is able to transform into a spider, but discovers he needs more nourishment that what he currently receives in order to accomplish this task.
Roland and his friends cross over to Thunderclap, and are then teleported to Devar-Toi, which is a compound occupied by Breakers, who are psychics recruited by the Crimson King. The Crimson King and his Low Men use the Breakers to destroy the Beams that hold the Tower together. The ka-tet meets a man named Ted Brautigan, along with Ted’s friend Dinky Earnshaw. Ted and Dinky also have another friend named Stanley, who does not speak but is able to use his telepathic powers to communicate. Stanley also possesses the ability to teleport, and was able to send Ted on a journey to another world. We learn that Stanley is actually Roland’s old friend Sheemie Ruiz, who Roland met during his time in Meijis.
Roland and his friends then watch videotapes narrated by Ted Brautigan, and learn the story of how Ted became a Breaker, and of how Ted and his friends have turned against their duties and wish to destroy Devar-Toi and stop the destruction of the Beams. Roland and his friends meet with Ted, Dinky and Sheemie yet again, and make plans for an attack on Devar-Toi. Jake speaks with Roland, and experiences an uneasy feeling that Roland tells him is ka-shume, which usually signals a change in the dynamics of the ka-tet. Roland also points out that Mordred has been following them, but asks Jake to keep this information from Eddie and Susannah.
The next day, the gunslingers mount an attack on Devar-Toi. They are aided by some hidden bombs that were placed in various parts of Devar-Toi during the previous night by a spy. The gunslingers are successful in their attack and are able to free the Breakers and stop the destruction of the Beams.
However, the attack comes at huge cost for Roland and his friends. Once the attack is over and Roland his ka-tet are performing some last minute inspections for any remaining threats, Eddie is shot by one of the remaining taheen, Pimli Prentiss. Unable to avoid the attack, the bullet proves to be fatal to Eddie, who eventually expires later that day. Susannah, Roland, Jake and Oy are left grieving for their friend. Before he dies, Eddie warns Jake about something or something named “Dandelo.” Eddie also names Roland his true father before he dies.
With the assistance of Sheemie, Roland, Jake and Oy travel to 1999 Maine to attempt to save the writer, Stephen King. When they arrive, the day is June 19th and Jake knows that time is running short. With the assistance of a woman they meet in a general store named Irene Tassenbaum, Roland and Jake are able to track down Stephen King, who is taking his daily afternoon walk. A young man named Bryan Smith is also driving a van on the same road as King, and King will be fatally struck down by Smith’s van unless the gunslingers intervene.
Roland, Jake and Irene intervene just in time to save Stephen King. However, this again comes at a cost for Roland, as Jake is hit by the van instead of King, and later succumbs to his injuries. Before he dies, Jake instructs Irene to take Roland to New York City, so that he may meet with the members of the Tet Corporation and return to Mid-World. Jake also gives instructions to Oy, although neither Irene nor Roland hears these instructions. Roland then buries Jake in the surrounding woods, saying a prayer for him. Irene tells Roland she will come back and plant something where Jake is buried. Roland tells her that a rose would be appropriate.
Roland and Irene then make their way to the Tet Corporation’s headquarters, located at 2 Hammarskjold Plaza. The rose is also located at this address. Roland meets Nancy Deepneau, who tells him that John Cullum and Aaron Deepneau have passed away, but Moses Carver is still alive. Roland also speaks to Marian Carver, daughter of Moses Carver, and learns a bit about the dealings of the Tet Corporation. Roland is given a copy of Stephen King’s book Insomnia, which Marian tells him may be important to his quest. Marian also tells Roland that he must watch out for someone named Patrick Danville, who is also a character in the book Insomnia. Before Roland departs, the members of the Tet Corporation also give him two more gifts: a gold watch which will keep time until Roland reaches the Tower, and Aunt Talitha’s cross. Roland is touched and grateful for these gifts.
Roland bids good-bye to Irene, who thanks him for the adventure, as her life has been irrevocably changed by her time with the gunslinger. Roland gives her the copy of Insomnia, stating that it feels “tricky” to him. Roland and Oy then travel through the door in the Dixie Pig and reunite with Susannah in Fedic. Susannah tells him that Ted, Dinky and a few other Breakers have traveled to Calla Bryn Sturgis to pay penance for what was done to the villagers’ children, but that Sheemie has died from an untreated infection in his foot. Roland, Susannah and Oy make plans to continue on their quest for the Dark Tower.
Roland ,Susannah and Oy make their way out of the Dixie Pig and back to Mid-World. On their way out, they find paintings that credit the mysterious Patrick Danville as the artist. Roland and Susannah also encounter a monster that is probably born of the To-Dash darkness and barely escape from the clutches of the creature.
Once Roland, Susannah and Oy make their way to Fedic so that they may continue on their quest for the Dark Tower, the journey becomes even more arduous. The only one equipped to handle the cold temperatures is Oy, and Roland and Susannah spend many uncomfortable days and nights wishing for warmer clothing and worrying how long their food supplies will last. Susannah also notices an unusual pimple that has formed next to her mouth. Roland also tells Susannah that they must check on the castle of the Crimson King, which Roland believes to be abandoned, but still may contain traps to stop Roland from continuing his quest.
When Roland, Susannah and Oy finally reach Le Casse Roi Russe, or the Crimson King’s castle, they encounter three men who resemble Stephen King. The creatures call themselves Feemalo, Fimalo and Fumalo (fee fi fo fum), and offer Roland and Susannah warm clothing and food. The creature tries to convince Roland that he is an uffi, or shapeshifter. However, Roland sees that this is a trick and refuses the offer. The creatures try to attack Roland, Susannah and Oy as they leave, but Roland and Susannah shoot Feemalo and Fumolo. Roland allows Fimalo to live, and finds out that he is actually a man named Rando Thoughtful. Thoughtful has used a trick, or glammer, to try to convince Roland that he was a shape-shifter, but is really a dying old man. Roland, Susannah and Oy leave the castle and continue on their quest. Rando Thoughtful stays behind, but is later attacked and eaten by Mordred, who is still following Roland and Susannah, plotting his revenge.
Roland and Susannah’s luck begins to change once they leave the castle of the Crimson King and continue on their quest. They are able to hunt deer, which provides them food and warm clothing. They are also able to finally build a fire so that they can stay warm. However, Susannah continues to worry about the pimple by her mouth, which has not gone away.
Roland, Susannah and Oy happen upon a house that appears to be inhabited when they draw closer to Empathica. Their assumption proves correct, as the house is inhabited by an old man named Joe Collins and his geriatric horse, Lippy. Collins offers them his hospitality, giving them a hot meal and shelter from the snow. Collins also begins to tell them how he came to Mid-World, and about his former life as a comedian, even telling some of his old jokes.
While Susannah and Roland are being entertained by Collins and his stand-up comedy routine, Susannah herself begins to think that something is wrong. Susannah then accidentally ruptures the pimple on her face and it begins to bleed. Susannah retreats to the bathroom to clean up the wound, and finds a note from Stephen King, who is repaying Roland and Jake from saving his life. Susannah deduces that Joe Collins and Dandelo are one in the same, and she and Roland dispose of Collins, stripping away his glammer. Before he dies, Dandelo is revealed to be a creature with insectoid characteristics.
Roland and Susannah quickly discover that Dandelo had kept a prisoner in his hut, and that prisoner turns out to be none other than Patrick Danville, a young man is approximately 16 or 17 years old. Susannah rescues Patrick from his prison in Dandelo’s basement, and learn of his captivity. Susannah deduces that Dandelo was a creature who fed off from human emotions, and that Patrick was his main source of fuel, although Dandelo fed from others unfortunate enough to come across his dwelling. Susannah also discovers that Dandelo must have tired of Patrick’s speech at some point, for he had removed the boy’s tongue. Roland, Susannah, Patrick and Oy take shelter in Dandelo’s barn for a few days, so that Patrick can regain his strength. Roland comes across Lippy and puts the creature out of her misery. They also come across a robot that calls itself Stuttering Bill (due to a defect in its programming) that was Dandelo’s reluctant servant. Roland suggests that the robot fix the stutter, and the robot happily obliges. Bill then relates more of the story to Roland and Susannah, and assists them with obtaining provisions to last them the remainder of their journey.
Once Roland and his friends leave Dandelo’s cottage, Mordred makes an appearance. Mordred eats the remains of the dead Lippy for nourishment, which will later prove to be a mistake. Mordred is still bent on taking vengeance on all of Roland’s friends, but especially Roland himself.
In the final weeks of Roland’s quest for the Tower, Susannah begins to realize that her time in his world is drawing to an end. Susannah becomes prone to bouts of uncontrollable weeping, and tries to hide this from Roland and the others. She also begins to dream of Jake and Eddie and feels that they are trying to send her a message, but does not know what they are trying to tell her. Suannah also sees a mysterious door in her dreams. The pimple by her mouth continues to cause her pain.
Susannah comes to realizes that Patrick’s artistic talents have the ability to alter reality. This is confirmed when Patrick draws a picture of her, and uses the eraser to remove the pimple by her mouth. Once the pimple is removed by the eraser, it vanishes from Susannah’s face. Susannah tells Patrick he must draw the Unfound Door that she sees in her dreams, and Patrick obliges.
Susannah asks Oy and Jake if they wish to travel through the door with her, but both decline. Roland tries to persuade Susannah to stay in Mid-World, but she declines. Susannah bids Roland, Patrick and Oy goodbye, and travels through the door to the alternate reality she sees in her dreams.
In the meantime, Mordred is still following Roland, waiting to attack. Mordred has also contracted food poisoning from consuming the remains of Lippy, and his strength has been diminished considerably. However, Mordred is still determined to seek revenge on Roland.
Mordred closes in on Roland, Patrick and Oy one night as Roland takes rest and leaves Patrick on night watch. Mordred attempts to attack Roland, but is stopped by Oy. Oy puts up a brave fight, but loses his life at the hands of Mordred. Roland dispatches Mordred with bullets from his gun. Saddened, Roland thanks Oy for his sacrifice. Oy speaks for the first time in weeks, saying Roland’s name, and then passes on.
Roland mourns Oy, but continues to make his way to the Tower with Patrick. Once Roland and Patrick draw closer to the Can’-Ka No Rey (the field of roses that surrounds the Tower), they encounter the Crimson King, who has gone mad. The Crimson King torments Roland and Patrick, throwing sneetches (weapons similar to hand grenades) at them. Roland tells Patrick that he must draw the Crimson King, and then erase him out of existence. Again, Patrick obliges, using crushed rose petals and Roland’s blood to achieve the red eyes that define the Crimson King. Patrick then uses his eraser, erasing the Crimson King out of existence, although the eyes remain. Roland then sends Patrick back to the robot Stuttering Bill, telling him to find a door that will take him back to a version of America, where he will be a famous artist.
Roland then makes his way to the Tower, calling out the names of all his friends and loved ones who have been sacrificed in the name of his quest.
We also learn that Susannah has traveled to an alternate reality through the door that Patrick drew for her, and has met a man named Eddie Toren, and his brother Jake Toren. In other words, she has met the Twinners of Eddie and Jake, and found a world close enough to her own world, so that any differences will seem minor. Eddie tells her that the name “Toren” means tower in German. It is implied that the three of them, along with a version of Oy, live out the rest of their days in happiness.
Roland approaches the Tower and lays down his gun and Aunt Talitha’s cross. The door opens, and Roland enters, climbing the stairs to the top of the Tower. Each time Roland comes to a room, he relives certain events in his life, such as his test to become a gunslinger.
At last, Roland reaches the top of the Tower, and opens a door with his name on it. Dismayed, he finds himself in the desert at the start of the story, chasing a man in black. Roland realizes that he has repeated his quest so many times, only to never find redemption. However, the memories begin to fade and Roland awakes, thinking that he has dreamed of the Tower yet again. Roland resumes his quest, seeking the man in black, who may be able to lead him to the Tower. But this time, he has the Horn of Eld in hand. So there is hope, even for the likes of him.
The Dark Tower is a rainbow book.
Yes, a rainbow book. By this I mean it can make me laugh and cry, and sometimes even shout, in both frustration and triumph. They say if you laugh and cry in the same day, you are having a rainbow day. So therefore, The Dark Tower book is a rainbow book.
And I know it may be hard to believe, but The Dark Tower contains plenty of humor (hence the laughter part). One of my favorite parts is when Jake and Oy switch bodies, and Jake is reminded of a movie with dinosaurs that he saw as a child and was frightened of. Tyranno-sorbets wrecks?
The Joker Cesar Romero coming to the rescue? Just some very funny imagery, and the humor was much needed, given the seriousness of the book.
And speaking of seriousness…
Oh, the feelsies…
There are more feels in The Dark Tower than there were when I was in the back seat of my ex’s car…oh wait, never mind…unwanted imagery, stage right!
All. The. Feels.
The reunion of the tet, especially when Eddie and Susannah reunite.
Roland being reunited with Sheemie, and telling Sheemie that he was not to blame for Susan Delgado’s death, and also telling Sheemie what a hero he was.
The death of Pere Callahan, who committed suicide to avoid eternal damnation, and essentially sacrificing himself for Jake.
And the deaths…
I know you need rain in order to have a rainbow, but when it rains in The Dark Tower, it pours…
Eddie Dean. When he died on my first journey, I cried. No, actually, I CRIED. When you CRY, as opposed to crying, its not pretty. No, you are a mess of snot and tears, both of which run into your mouth. And its not quiet either…let the honking commence! And hopefully, you like the colors red and purple, since your face will turn those colors…
And it doesn’t get any better after that. No, not at all. Especially when Roland becomes determined to sacrifice himself in Jake’s place to save the wordslinger, but greedy old ka has other plans…
And Oy. A true gunslinger, all he was missing was the guns (and opposable thumbs, for that matter). Roland burying Oy, and thinking to himself that the grave was too small to contain the heart that Oy’s body held…
So yes, keep the tissues on hand. Plenty of rainbows in this book, but the storms needed to produce them are massive…
Another favorite part of my book was…you guessed it..another reunion! I speak of the reunion at the end of the book, when Susannah meets Eddie and Jake’s Twinners, and falls in love with Eddie all over again…
Yes, this is one of my favorite parts. However, more than a few CR’s (Constant Readers, for the uninitiated), would beg to defer on this one…
I have heard people call Susannah a coward for exiting the quest and “abandoning” Roland…
Yes, a coward!
You know, the woman who was raped by a demon in the name of bringing Jake over to Mid-World, in a violent birth for the ages.
The woman who had to bear the inhuman fruits of that rape, and who was forced to share her head with a demon who would stop at nothing to hear someone
something call her “mommy.”
The woman who lost her husband. And who then lost her spiritual son (Jake) not long afterwards…
But still, she stuck with Roland, although nearly everything she held dear had been sacrificed in the name of his Tower…
But Susannah, evidently, did not belong in Mid-World…ka had other plans for her. And ka let her know this, in the way of any ugly pimple that no amount of Clearasil could ever take care of.
In other words, I believe that the ugly pimple was Susannah’s signal to leave Mid-World. And when she couldn’t grasp that, she was sent dreams. And then Patrick Danville, who finally drew her out of Mid-World, in much the same way she had been drawn in: a magical door.
And Susannah did what any sane person would do: she got out of dodge. After all, when ka speaks to you that loudly, you listen. Otherwise, the consequences are not pretty.
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
The above line is (rightfully) considered one of the greatest opening lines in literature. Ever.
And its one of the most frustrating ending lines. Ever.
Well, at least in some circles…
But those are circles I do not visit.
The ending to The Dark Tower is perfect. There are no other words for it.
Well, heartbreaking possibly. Baffling. Shocking. Sad. And then you want to throw your book across the room.
That last part is a sentence, not a word. But you get my drift.
This does not change anything, however. The ending to The Dark Tower is still perfect. It is perfect because it is the only ending.
It is perfect because it is right ending.
It is perfect because of its implications.
The implication that the journey never ends, that the journey will continue no matter what.
The implication that hell is repetition.
The implication that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Roland is a great example of this, although ka has other ideas and forces him to change. Or else.
And there is the implication that there is always the possibility of redemption. Roland has done some pretty awful (although pretty understandable things). But if anyone should be damned for eternity, it would be Roland. But maybe not.
This time, its different. He remembered to pick up the horn, after all. He never had before. And nothing is so small that it can’t make a big difference. So Roland is doomed to repeat his quest yet again…
But perhaps, he can get it right this time. This time it will be different. He has been given what he did not have before: The Horn ofEld.
And little things can change everything. So maybe this little thing is the catalyst, and Roland will finally find some peace. He can finally rest, and will no longer be doomed.
This New Year’s Day, I had made a New Year’s resolution, for the first time in about…oh…12 trillion years (kidding, kidding).
Normally, I don’t make those. I am kind of like this guy, and I think I am pretty awesome…
But making this New Year’s resolution is one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
Because of this resolution, I have (yet again) taken the amazing journey otherwise known as the Dark Tower series.
I have become reacquainted with old friends, and have even made some new ones along the way. I have found buried treasure that had been long forgotten, until now. Often, I felt like I was coming home after a long journey, and was welcomed back with loving arms. There is no better feeling than coming home after a long journey, and discovering everything is where you left it, but still feels new anyway.
And yes, there was heartbreak. Part of me hoped things would be different this time, but deep down, I knew they wouldn’t be. But I still hoped anyway…to paraphrase a certain King character: hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies.
Again, like Roland, I have learned lessons. I have learned how power love and friendship are, and how hard it is to exist without them. I have learned not to shed my humanity, no matter how lofty my goals may be.
And I have learned that there is always the possibility of redemption, no matter what. Like Roland, I am not above it. And like Roland, all of us can pick up our horn, and that no act is too simple to not have enormous ramifications somewhere down the road. Sometimes, a small change is all it takes.
So, I bid Roland and his friends farewell. But its not really a farewell, because I know that somewhere, the ka-tet and their quest still lives, both of which are good things, and good things never die.
And just for the fun of it, here we go again with the connections:
-One of the most obvious connections in The Dark Tower is the one to Insomnia. Not only is the book Insomnia mentioned and a copy given to Roland, Patrick Danville is also a character in the same book. In the book Insomnia, Ralph Roberts must save the life of Patrick Danville, who will be important to someone, and that someone is probably Roland Deschain. Patrick Danville is also from Derry, Maine, another center for unusual activity in the King universe.
–Ted Brautigan is also another major connection in The Dark Tower. Ted Brautigan is a character in the short story “Low Men in Yellow Coats,” which is part of the collection Hearts in Atlantis. In the story “Low Men in Yellow Coats”, Ted mentions gunslingers to Bobby when he has slipped into a trance-like state.
-Dandelo appears to be a Twinner of sorts to Pennywise the Clown from the book It. Both are shapeshifters, and both feed off of human emotions (fear in particular). Again, Patrick Danville is from Derry, where the events in It take place. It is possible that Dandelo was one of the offspring of Pennywise’s eggs and that the Losers Club did not destroy all of Pennywise’s offspring.
-In the book Dreamcatcher, graffiti saying “Pennywise lives” is discovered. Dandelo may have been responsible for this graffiti, if he was indeed one of Pennywise’s offspring.
-Roland mentions the “doctor bugs” when Jake is fighting the vampires. The “doctor bugs” are also mentioned in the short story “The Little Sisters of Eluria“, which is part of the collection Everything’s Eventual.
–Dinky Earnshaw is the main character in the title story in the collection Everything’s Eventual. Dinky also knows someone by the name of Skipper Brautigan, who was a friend of Henry Dean. This implies that Eddie and Dinky grew up in the same neighborhood, and may have actually met at some point before their encounter in Mid-World.
-Susannah recalls getting her first menstrual period in gym class and having tampons thrown at her by the other girls. This is exactly what happens to Carrie White in the book Carrie.
-Randall Flagg resurfaces again in The Dark Tower. Flagg is a character in several other King works, including The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon and Hearts in Atlantis.
-Randall Flagg recalls a town by the name of French Landing, located in Wisconsin. Flagg also recalls the hats that are worn by the Breakers and Low Men are similar to the hats worn by Tyler Marshall. French Landing is the town and Tyler Marshall is a character in the book Black House.
-Sheemie’s ability to teleport, and his physical symptoms that he experiences afterwards, are similar to the character Vic’s ailments in the book NOS4A2, by Joe Hill. Vic also possesses an ability to teleport, although her ability is not nearly as strong as Sheemie’s.
-Patrick Danville’s artistic ability is similar to Edgar Freemantle’s artistic ability in the book Duma Key.