The Dark Tower III: The Wastelands (1991) – Stephen King

This week I continue my journey with Roland of Gilead’s ka-tet as they continue their journey to the Dark Tower. He, Eddie and Susannah travel onwards, and things start to get really good.

They discover one of the twelve legendary guardians, the Path of the Beam, they recite the catechism that becomes ingrained in the tapestry of the series, they remember the face of their fathers, and a paradox created by the third drawing in the previous book is resolved in the most joyous of ways as two more join their group, the restored Jake Chambers (who comes with warnings of things they are going to encounter) and a billy-bumbler (a cross between a raccoon and a dog?) named Oy.

A good portion of the novel is centred on Jake’s drawing into the group and his travel from New York to Mid-World, and how his life brushed up against Eddie’s when he was young. But as Roland would say, that’s ka.

We travel with the group, reveling in their relationships, fearing for their safety, and worrying for what is to come.


Hanging over the book like a shadow is young Jake’s belief that they are going to have to deal with a train (Blaine (is a pain)) that may be evil, at least as it portends in a children’s book he comes across in New York.

And as they follow the Path of the Beam on the way to the Dark Tower, they draw closer to the city of Lud, and the terrible things that live there… including Blaine, which may give them a chance to draw closer to the Tower if they can convince it to take them through the drawers, or wastelands.

The group is all together now, and consequently this book is the most enjoyable in the three I’ve revisited so far, Mid-World and Roland are layered out a little more, there are more solid hints about things in his past, the relationship between Susannah and Eddie is in full bloom, with a potential reveal hiding in the wings, and the addition of Jake and Oy make for a well-round group. You get a range of feelings and sensations to the cold, calculating gunslinger, to the wonder of a young boy and his billy-bumbler.

But hanging over it all is the climax you know is coming when they encounter Blaine (the pain) the train and must find a way to escape Lud before it’s too late.

Which leads us to a bit of a cliffhanger ending, but that’s ok, because I have the next book set up and ready to go in two week’s time.

Reading the series like this, seeing it all laid out as one piece, is making this journey truly enjoyable. If you haven’t read them before, I highly recommend them, and if you have, isn’t it time to take the journey again?


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