The Waste Lands by Stephen King
Digital Audiobook narrated by Frank Muller
Published by Plume on January 1st 1992
Series: The Dark Tower #3
Genres: Adventure, Apoctalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Post-Apoctalyptic, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Fantasy, Thriller, Western
Length: 422 pages or 18 hours, 14 minutes
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Roland, the Last Gunslinger, moves ever closer to the Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares- as he crosses a desert of damnation in a macabre world that is a twisted mirror of our very own. With him are those he has drawn to this world, street-smart Eddie Dean and courageous wheelchair-bound Susannah. Ahead of him are mind-rending revelations about who he is and what is driving him.
Guys, I love this book.
The Waste Lands is where The Dark Tower series is REALLY starting to get good. First and foremost (small spoiler, but honestly, this book is 26 years old) we get Jake back! Jake and Eddie are my favorite characters in this series, so I love his journey back to Roland’s world. Second, we get to see the city of Lud, which I think it the first real example of how Roland’s world has “moved on”. Third? BLAINE THE MONO.
Blaine is my favorite villain in this series. Probably on my top ten ever. He is such fun.
So where we left off in The Drawing of the Three, the trio (Roland, Eddie, Susannah) are leaving the beach with the monstrosities and entering the forest. The Waste Lands picks up on the same breath: here they are now entering the forest, where the world is crumbling. They join the path of the beam and Roland admits his reality is torn.
Another cool thing about The Waste Lands? We spend increasingly more time outside of Roland’s head. While the gunslinger is interesting, it’s the multiple perspectives that make things really juicy. We got a few glimpses of this in The Drawing of the Three, but in this book we are actively split between Roland, Jake, Eddie, and Susannah. I’d say the majority of this book is shared by the boys, but Susannah gets her turn in Wolves of the Calla, so we’ll get there.
Eventually it becomes clear that the cause of Roland’s faltering reality is saving the life of Jake Chambers. Jake’s reality is also torn, and we enter his mind early in the books. Of course what follows is an adventure of rescuing Jake (including a haunted house that is pure King style, and actually made it into the film? *gasp*). This is a traveling story, so we spend a decent time on the road, but there are adventures to be had on the way, and then there is Lud.
Lud is the first city the ka-tet reaches, and they find themselves in the middle of a gang war of the ages… those who remember the time before, and those who don’t. Dire circumstances force them to split up, so we get two running perspectives throughout the city. It’s great, guys. Lud is raw and vile and villainous.
And then there is Blaine.
I won’t spoil Blaine, but he’s magnificent.
Also to note: this book ends off on a heck of a cliffhanger that makes me grateful I was not one of the pained individuals who read this as a new release, because there was a five year wait between books three and four and I’d probably had died of anticipation.
While you have to wait until The Waste Lands for things to REALLY get good… here’s where trudging through The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three are really worth it. And it stays this good until the end.