The Wizard and the Glass: Tight plot, western setting, fantastic villains

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Stephen King The Dark Tower 3. The Waste LandsThe Wizard and the Glass by Stephen King

The Wizard and the Glass, the fourth of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower novels, returns to the Mid-World of Roland’s youth. Having recently bested his teacher in combat, Roland is now a gunslinger, one of the cowboy-knights of Gilead. However, Roland is young, and his father sends him away from his court — and away from the villainous sorcerer Marten Broadcloak. With his two companions — clever Cuthbert and the steady, cerebral Alain — by his side, what’s the worst that can happen?

Unfortunately, there are no safe places for Roland in Mid-World. “Good Man” John Farson’s rebellion against Gilead has reached the distant Barony of Mejis. Worse, Marten Broadcloak has charged The Big Coffin Hunters, exiled gunslingers that failed their final test, to hunt down and kill Roland and his friends. Roland’s in danger, but that doesn’t stop him from falling in love with Susan Delgado, a ranger’s daughter promised to Mejis’ aging mayor. It’s a volatile mix and a plot that could fall apart, but King’s instincts pull everything together.

Always allusive, King invites his readers to link Roland’s quest to reach the Dark Tower with Frodo’s attempt to destroy the One Ring. In The Wizard and the Glass, King invites both the reader and Roland’s new “ka-tet” to question whether Roland will reach the Dark Tower with his soul intact. Or has he already been consumed by his quest? What does it mean that Roland, who is surrounded by villains, consistently commits the most villainous deeds of all?

The Wizard and the Glass stands out among King’s Dark Tower novels for its tight plot, its western setting, and its fantastic villains.

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RYAN SKARDAL, on our staff from September 2010 to November 2018, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.

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