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Onyx reviews: The
Dark Tower by Stephen King
For nearly thirty-five years, Stephen King has been guiding Roland Deschain
and his followers—his ka-tet—toward the Dark Tower, which is both physically and
figuratively at the center of existence. Roland has known all his centuries-long
life that the Tower is ailing and that existence will come to an end when it
collapses. Not just Roland's arcane Mid-World, but all of the infinite planes of
reality, some of which look like our own world, many of which are vastly
With the publication of The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, King puts the
finishing touches to his magnum opus, an enormous, sprawling, innovative series
that is a microcosm for his entire writing career, while simultaneously standing
apart from his other works.
And what a finish! The previous two volumes filled many pages without covering
much ground. Readers wondered how he could wrap up the considerable loose ends
that remained in fewer than a thousand pages. In the final volume, King shifts
into high gear, and in a book barely longer than Volume V he takes care of
everything left of the ka-tet's quest. In short order, he wraps up the multiple
cliffhangers from Volume VI, reunites the ka-tet and sends them on their way to
deal with their fundamental problem: the Breakers who have been recruited by the
Crimson King to destroy the Beams supporting the Tower. The Breakers' work is
proceeding apace and any more delays may spell the quest's failure. Only two of
the original six Beams remain.
As usual, life for the ka-tet is never simple; they always have several problems
to handle simultaneously. There is the matter of Susannah's child, Mordred, who
exists to defeat Roland and to join the Crimson King, his Red father. The ka-tet
needs to preserve the rose in New York and figure out what to do about the lazy
tale-spinner in Maine, who has been marked by ka for abandoning his appointed
task. Along the way, there will be reunions and meetings—some with characters
familiar to readers of other King books and stories—and there will be partings,
few of them pleasant. Roland of Gilead has left a long trail of corpses and
regret behind him on his quest.
Where Song of Susannah recounted the events of twenty-four hours, The Dark Tower
covers a lengthy time period and considerable geography. Unexpected
confrontations face them once they finally set their sights on the long,
harrowing road that leads to End World and the smoke-gray Tower that stands in
the midst of a vast field of roses.
What will those who attain the Tower find there? King has been keeping that
secret for over a quarter of a century, so this reviewer will not even hint at
who gets there and what they find. This long tale has never been about endings,
anyway; to discover the ending, a reader need only turn to the final page—but in
doing so they rob themselves of the enjoyment of the lavish and complex tale
that lies before it. The series is about self-discovery. Each member of Roland's
ka-tet—and Roland himself—learned important things about themselves and changed
from their old ways to enable them to participate in the quest that defined
Roland's life. A quest that became theirs, too, as well as that of the legion of
readers who have been following the series lo these many years.
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