Wizard and Glass by Stephen King
Digital Audiobook narrated by Frank Muller
Published by Signet on November 1st 1998
Series: The Dark Tower #4
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction
Length: 702 pages or 27 hours, 45 minutes
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Roland of Gilead and his fellow pilgrims determine to reach the Dark Tower, but their quest is rife with confrontation, conflict and sacrifice - from a vast computer system which bargains in riddles to Roland's old enemy Walter and the wizard's glass.
Wizard and Glass is easily my favorite of the Dark Tower novels.
I know in the fanbase for the series that’s a bit of a controversial thing to say.
Where we finish in The Waste Lands, Roland and company are aboard a murderous monorail heading at light speed toward their doom. The only way there is to stop the train is to beat it in a riddling competition. In the first pages of the novel, we dive into a the world of riddles and games, already at high action.
Rather than plunge forward into the world after that, King gives the characters a much needed break and delivers the long-promised history of Roland. He takes us out to Mejis, a rural barony, where a young Roland and his friends are sent to watch and be out of the way after Roland’s battle with Cort. Here, the boys have a full adventure of their own and the reader is introduced to the world before it fell into ruin. We see not only the events that turned Roland into the hard figure he is now, but also the pivot of the war.
I love Mejis. I think that this story-within-a-story is a great respite. It may be a little jarring at first to be yanked away from Eddie, Susannah, and the others after so trying an event, but Roland’s history contains so many small details that become essential to the rest of the story. Colorful characters like Rhea of the Coos and Eldred Jonas fill in our mortal villains, and of course, there is Susan.
Susan Delgado shows us a side of Roland that gives him greater character, and it will break your heart a little for the hardened gunslinger to learn the story of his first love. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Faces you see in Mejis, you will see again. Some you have seen before. The tale of The Good Man and Wizard’s Glass both play crucial parts in Wolves of the Calla and beyond. As a first time reader, the importance of the story will be unclear. It may seem like a diversion, a distraction from the things that are really important. It isn’t. As a third (fourth?) time reader, I delight in the minor details and careful connections between Roland’s past and present.
In Wizard and Glass we are diverted to a rich corner of King’s Mid World, peppered with interesting characters and a greater depth of culture and fantasy. In many ways, this novel lays the groundwork for the rest of the series, and should not be disregarded.
And, honestly? It’s just a really enjoyable story.