Well not quite that long, but it’s been a while since my last review. Which is bad form but kinda appropriate for the series I’m in the middle of reviewing as there were large gaps between the release of each book in the series. Unlike King I can’t blame a crack habit, I’m blaming my 1 and 4 year olds! Anyway here we are, book 4! Probably my favourite in the series, Wizard and glass. Sadly the last book in the series narrated by Frank Muller due to him suffering a life changing accident, but he does the usual stellar job and his catalogue of work is its own tribute to his talent.
The book starts on the cliffhanger where the last book left off, with our ka-tet trapped on Blain the monorail, the mad train with a riddle obsession in a battle of wits to the death! Inconceivably (someone will get that) they find Blaine’s riddling blind spot and survive but in the process fall off the path of the beam, leaving Roland’s world entirely and end up in Topeka, Kansas months after a deadly plague, fans of King will know which story they have fallen into.
This book is the story of Roland’s childhood, telling the story is the price he must pay to return the travelers back onto the path of the beam.
As with other tower books this one takes inspiration from another story, and makes its own story of it within the towers universe. This book is heavily inspired by the wizard of Oz. There’s an emerald city, ruby slippers and even a wicked witch!
Most of the book is spent on the story of Roland’s childhood from the day after he beats Cort and inherits his guns. His father, fearing for Roland’s safety, sends him (along with his friends Cuthbert and Alain) to the sleepy barony of Mejis to keep him away from Martin who tricked him into his early manhood test. In this quiet backwater the young gunslingers walk into danger, love, plots and intrigue, a witch, a rip in reality and would be gunslingers, and at the heart of it all the wizards glass. If it sounds like a lot going on, well it is, and it’s another long book full of new characters. Good ones too!
There’s Susan, the young girl Roland falls in love with and who has possibly the most tragic end in the series. The big coffin hunters, a trio of cowboys led by Jonas, a failed gunslinger who is still very whiley and dangerous. Cordelia (Susan’s mad aunt). Rhea of the coos, a witch and one of Kings really nasty pieces of work!. And of course Roland’s companions Cuthbert and Alain. There’s a whole bunch of side characters too, too many to talk about them all, however there is one who will play an important part in later books and one who we met in the first book.
This book starts with a bang and then is a bit of a slow burner, building tension effectively through the story of Roland’s past and then coming to a head with Roland being set on the path of the tower and the end of his time with Susan. Then back to the present for one more confrontation with Roland’s wizard and one last part of his childhood story, his final price to return to the path of the beam.
The book as always is excellently narrated by Frank Muller, he brings a real individual personality to each character he voices and with such a large cast that is truly impressive! He keeps the story moving with great rhythm and it’s a bloody long book so again truly impressive and it’s sad to see his narration end here.
Overall a fantastic audiobook and a great addition to the series, adding depth to Roland’s sometimes robotic character and finally showing his most human and vulnerable side, bringing the ka-tet together fully in the sharing of his darkest hours, gaining an understanding off why Roland is the force of will he is. Next book up is Wolves of the calla, which I believe is Alex’s favourite, so another good’un!