Reviewed by: Riley (Sat, 7 Jul 2007 07:06:59)
The Dark Tower series is probably my favorite thing ever in the history of things. Yes, I realize that wasn't exactly prose, but it's true. That being said, I wasn't all that impressed with The Wastelands. Allow me to explain...
First off, this is one of those "neccessary" books that always comes along in a series as long as this one. Basically it's all set-up. Sort of like a literary house cleaning where King got done what needed to be done so the story could move along nice and smooth like.
That's not a problem within itself, however, I also felt that the book wasn't really going anywhere at times. Because King doesn't do outlines it always means one of two things; a) he hits a brilliant stride where everything comes together and it's absolutely euphoric (i.e. The Gunslinger, The Shining, and Wizard and Glass) or b) he meanders about a bit, taking the long way around and making plenty of stops to take in the scenery until he actually figures out how he's going to make something work.
Don't get me wrong, King is the best living American writer, but the point is that, like every human being, he ain't perfect. This book is proof of that. At least it is for me.
To further illustrate my point I will use the case of Jake and his re-entry into Mid-World. In lack of better terms...it takes freakin forever and a day. Yes, we get plenty of character development, but at times we just got re-iterations of things we already knew about these characters. Take for instance Eddie and his older brother. We already knew, and could infer, about the intracacies of their relationship. So why the need to continually go back to that dynamic? Interesting? Yes. Neccessary? No.
Unlike Wizard and Glass which absolutley needed, nay, demanded all of it's 600+ pages to tell it's story, Wastelands could have been trimmed up by 50 pages, maybe more, and been just as effective. I understand that King loves to build suspense, but there is a fine line between suspense and boredom. He flirted with that line a few times in this third book of this amazing series.
Reviewed by: jason sharp (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Sat, 03 Apr 2004 18:35:39)
great overall but...
I thought this book was great overall. I've been reading the DT series since I was 16 years old when the first book came out. These are my are some of my favorite books and I'm not even into the fantasy genre. That said...one thing that annoys me about this story is the way Eddie beats Blaine in the end. It just reminds a little too much of the way Bilbo beats Gollum in their game of riddles in The Hobbit. I'm sill dedicated to the end though!
Reviewed by: mitchell (email@example.com) (Thu, 29 Jan 2004 20:12:53)
love the ending
The DT series is the 1st Stephen King series ive read yet. I've just read The Waste Lands and imust say my favorite part would be the ending. I know quite a few people would disagree with me on this one but I love how Stephen King has left the ka-tet at the end of this book.just how it leaves you guessing and dieing for more.so far its my favorite DT book. key phrase their is SO FAR!!
Reviewed by: johan schouten (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Wed, 21 Jan 2004 11:38:44)
A New Standard in Fantasy
Truly great works of art all share one characteristic: they set new standards while shattering old ones. Citizen Kane did it for movies and more modestly The Waste Lands did it for fantasy fiction. The fluid way in which the author mixes medieval and science fiction is stunning but what sets this particular installment really apart is its rollercoaster action, or better put monorail action. The story keeps on picking up pace on every next page, and that is quite something for a 700-page book. Every time the reader thinks the climax is reached, King takes us a step further still, culminating in the vertigious monorail ride at 1.100 km/h from the breathtaking city of Lud through irratic, radiation-infested lands. Unfortunately this maddening pace only continues some 100 pages into part 4, Wizard and Glass, and is never reached again in part four nor five. Nevertheless the unbelievable, kaleidoscopic fantasy that King mixes in the DT series is of rare quality. You got to be tripping even to just come up with names like (the Cradle of) Lud, captain Trips, slo-trans engines, not to mention a floating bridge or a 'path of the beam' or on an even bigger level the concept of a futuristic, highly developed technological society that has come to an end, leaving its offspring marvelling at the wonders of electric light and such.
I am a very conservative reader and frankly, I do not take Stephen King very serious as an important writer (although one may ask if a viewpoint like that can be maintained in the face his incredible audience; he is probably the most widely read author in human history, if we leave the Bible aside), and some of his other books are truly terrible, but the DT series is of an incredible calibre. I do hope that the sixth and seventh installments will reach the fabulous level of this third part again, for if they do, no one could deny King his righteous place in the history of Literature with a capital L.
Reviewed by: Patd (email@example.com) (Thu, 13 Nov 2003 17:41:08)
The Waste Lands was the second 'Dark Tower' book that I listened to on cassete. It was read by Stephen King, the Frank Muller edition had yet to come into existance. Most of it I listened to walking in a park near my house. I was twelve years old at the time. I remember that I was cleaning my room durring the 'Key and Rose' portion of the book, and getting my braces cleaned when the travelers frist met Blaine the Mono. Even though all the info I had on Eddie and Susanna came from the 'argument' section I was quite entertained. I would like to know who it was that read the 'Charlie the Choo-Choo" portion of the book, she is not credited on the box. I bought a used copy of the book in Ashland Oregon when I was in 9th grade and have read it many times sinse. The two year wait between when I listened to the book and the release of Wizard in Glass was one of the most agonizing waits of my life.
Reviewed by: Simon Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Tue, 30 Sep 2003 19:29:26)
So good its dangerous...
Where the hell do I start......having read The Drawing Of The Three I found myself so welcomingly stranded in this one its unnerving. Eddie and Susannah's relationship couldn't have been more touching. Roland's guilt and subesquent father-ing of Jake was a master stroke. Jake and Oy's interaction was classic 'E.T' sorta stuff - I honestly loved every minute of this book. The imagery was constant (the bridge and Lud), the nastiness ever-present (Gasher's relentless treatment of poor Jake), and the thing that thrilled me the most - underlying compassion within the ka-tet. You start to care about these characters so much its frightening (and thrilling). Susannah is a little gem and you spend half the time simply wishing you could pick her up and hold her as Roland and Eddie do; and I (speculatively) dread the day she dies.
Anyway. The Waste Lands, like any other DT novel, is the cerebral movie that has you in a constant trance that we have only Stephen King to thank for.
The intensity of it all just makes you want to weep with joy and sadness.
Reviewed by: Andy (email@example.com) (Fri, 5 Sep 2003 12:36:54)
That Pesky Ka
While I think this series overall is fantastic, full of original fantasy storytelling that rivals and surpasses much of the best fantasy stories of the 20th century, I'd like to spend my review dwelling on those elements that bother me about The Dark Tower, those elements that somehow mar a nearly flawless piece of writing. And those elements can pretty much be summed up in one word: ka.
Perhaps it is just that my own religious views differ from King's. I am uncomfortable with the ideas of fate and predestination, and I rather believe that God is maybe a guide that can help if you want to listen but will not push you so forcefully in one direction or another. But ka, of course, is all about fate and destiny. At one point in Wizard and Glass, ka is described as a sweeping wind that will tear down your barn, and it is impossible to stand in its way. It's not that I mind that King has different spiritual beliefs, but ka really ruins the books in a fundamental way. You see, if the characters are helpless to fight ka, then really the story has no suspense. Because we know that whatever is supposed to happen, as dictated by ka, will happen. And that whatever it is will be right.
King relies on ka far too much in The Waste Lands to advance the plot, particularly in the first half of the book. A convenient psychic awareness develops in many of the characters, so they simply know what it is they're supposed to do, without knowing why they know it. Eddie knows he needs to carve a key. How does he know? He couldn't tell you. Jake knows they need to go to Lud to catch Blaine (he also knows that Blaine is pink). How does he know? He couldn't tell you. Much of this pushes the boundaries of logic and what we're expected to believe. How does Eddie know he's supposed to draw a door in the ground and write "The Boy" upon it? Well, because ka told him to do it, and that's it. Ka could pretty much get them through the rest of the series all the way to the tower if King wanted it to, and the characters would never have to rely upon their wits to overcome obstacles. Thankfully, that is not always the case (see the brilliant way in which Eddie defeats Blaine), but it is annoying when it occurs.
That said, there are things about The Waste Lands that I love: the breathtaking excitement of the action in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi city of Lud (although Tick-Tock is pretty much wasted in DT4), the waste lands themselves, Blaine (shades of 2001's Hal, yes, but still an original creation if you ask me), the beams, the fascinating time travel paradox that has divided the minds of both Roland and Jake (although the resolution of this problem is sketchy at best -- why does Jake's entry into Mid World resolve it? How does this negate the time travel paradox?)... it's great writing. I just wish sometimes that King would give ka a rest. In my humble opinion.
Reviewed by: Dave (Bizkit4194@aol.com) (Mon, 11 Aug 2003 15:19:48)
Pure Excellence, these books keep getting better!
Ok, If you read the Dark Tower 1 and 2 and liked them then your in for a great book. The third book in the series is the best yet in my opinion. It has a compelling plot and is a great read. If you read the Dark Tower 1 and 2 and didn't like them... well, you just have bad taste.
Reviewed by: Trevor (firstname.lastname@example.org) (Thu, 31 Jul 2003 11:43:06)
A More Classic King
The Waste Lands is now subtitled Redemption, and that is the theme: people are making up for their mistakes, or at least paying for them. Roland and a now-alive again Jake are going insane for having defied ka. But as we saw in the last few pages of volume 2, Roland is opening his heart to his new friends, after being alone for so long, and it is his faith in them that gives him the strength to continue the quest. Perhaps a better subtitle would have been reawakening, since that is what is happening to the minds and hearts of all our heroes. King's greatest works, such as The Stand, The Shining, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, etc., while horrific and scary, are ultimately about hope and strength in the face of adversity. In this way, The Waste Lands continues the feel of the end of The Drawing of the Three, with characters gaining strength and determination from each other, strength they would never have had alone. When the abrupt ending comes, we are left with the feeling that, no matter how many problems they face, no matter what insanity they come up against, the new ka-tet of gunslingers will never give up so long as they have each other. They are Ka-Tet, One From Many.
Reviewed by: James S. (email@example.com) (Thu, 23 Jan 2003 11:12:02)
This novel was just awesome. The artwork kicked ass too! I just can't find anything wrong with it. King did a great job with it.
Reviewed by: Frederic Flament (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A narrow escape
This book is one of the most breath taking part of the Dark Tower written yet. Until the last minute I wondered if they would make it to the train. And yet they are not saved, as this train is an independant computer controlled train who has got some schizophrenic tendencies. King has done his best to mingle our real world and Roland's world (buildings, history facts...) and it is full of villains, some new ones like Tick-Tock man or already known like Flagg.... King's vision of a post-nucleo-apocalyps world is simply superb.
Reviewed by: Derek (email@example.com)
This is one of King's finest works to date. Rich detail, great characters, and non-stop action make this a book you can't put down. By far the best fiction novel of the 90's. King, who I couldn't stand, has earned my respect as one of the finest novelist of the 80's and 90's. Anyone who loves the Dark Tower series as much as me would agree that this is the best novel of the series, but the series is the memorable thing.
Reviewed by: Antonio Andolini (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I could not belive it...
This book told a wonderful story about the group's travels through The Waste Lands, but what really grabbed my goat was that segment after our heroes boarded Blaine and headed into the sunset. Randall Flagg appeared and let it be known that he was the one who was causing the turmoil that was affecting the world. What a kick in the pants!