Wizard and Glass is the fourth novel in the The Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
Finished on: 11.7.2017
[Here are my reviews of the other novels in the series.]
Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah and Oy manage to defeat Blaine and arrive at the Topeka railway station, Kansas. Only it’s not the Kansas of Jake’s, Eddie’s and Susannah’s world. Something awful has happened here. As they leave the city, they come close to something Roland calls a “thinny”, an eerie hole in the dimensional fabric. As they camp for the night, Roland tells them the story of where he encountered a thinny for the first time, which is also the story of his first big love, Susan Delgado.
Most of Wizard and Glass is spent in Roland’s past, a “detour” from the quest I very much enjoyed, even though I had some issues here and there with a couple of things.
The novel starts with the ending of the last book’s plot – that ended on a cliffhanger that would have probably enraged me if I hadn’t read the novels at a point where everything was published already. And I thought the ending was very fitting, but I was also happy that it didn’t take up more time and we could leave Blaine behind pretty quickly.
Diving into Roland’s past was great, though. I loved Cuthbert and Alain and I wouldn’t have minded for a second to spend even more time with them. I also generally liked Susan, but I did have my issues with the way she is treated. For one, I really hoped for a second there that she wouldn’t get fridged – wouldn’t it have been awful enough for Roland if he could never see her again, or their child (of course she gets pregnant immediately and of course, she knows about it immediately as well), while she gets to live out her life in peace, even with her fair share of sadness? And then to die of old age, while Roland has to live his seemingly eternal life without her? But no, she has to die here to give him manpain – and in pretty much the worst possible way.
In a story that pretty much features only horrible women, with Susan as the one wonderful exception, this kind of misogynistic plotting is even worse. And it combines umcomfortably with the fact that it all takes place in Roland’s world’s version of Mexico, Mejis, meaning that most people are latinxs in the story (yay for representation), but the most beautiful person there – Susan – is fair and blond, and her blond hair is a huge point and fetishized by pretty much everyone. Hello, racism/colorism.
And to sour the taste even more, there was Roland’s hate for his mother that I couldn’t really understand. It was so obvious that she didn’t chose to betray his father and be with Marten, but was coerced by him. And then, she, too, gets fridged to further Roland’s manpain even more, by having him accidentally kill her. Extremely frustrating.
When we return from the story in the story, the book ends up in Oz, which I generally liked as a narrative turn, but things happened a little too fast there, getting quickly rid of a plot point that seemed to have been meant for a bigger purpose in the last book.
Despite these misgivings I had with the story, I did enjoy reading it, and Wizard and Glass is definitely one of my more favorite books of the series so far. That’s how much King could pull me into this world.
Summarizing: Some problems, but mostly strong storytelling.