The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah Part I

Last week, we fought the Wolves and Susannah/Mia took Black Thirteen and disappeared through the Unfound Door. This week, we begin Song of Susannah with a bang, as our gang gets split up and thrown to different whens and the beams start to collapse. 

On September 6th of last year, we began our journey on a reread of Stephen King’s epic series—soon to be a motion picture starring Idris Elba as Roland, the gunslinger. Faithfully each week, we’ve come closer to that looming Dark Tower in the distance that holds our world and Roland’s Gilead together, and that nexus is in danger of being destroyed by the Crimson King. Okay, let’s dig into Song of Susannah, which follows the obliteration of the Wolves, as our ka-tet is weighing the options…

*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!

Song of Susannah sets up nicely, splitting up the break-neck pace into digestible “stanzas.” So the plan is to read a few stanzas a week (about 130 pages) and meet here at our usual time (Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET) to discuss major themes, motifs, and reactions. Make sure to bookmark the HQ page for the schedule and links to all of the chapter discussions as they go live! This week, we begin Song of Susannah as the gang gets split up and thrown through the Unfound Door to different whens! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part I of Song of Susannah: 1st Stanza: “Beamquake” – 5th Stanza: “The Turtle”!


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1st Stanza: “Beamquake” – 5th Stanza: “The Turtle”

The battle won against the Wolves feels like a hollow victory to Roland and the boys, because Mia has taken possession of Susannah’s body, swiped the all-powerful Black Thirteen crystal ball, and disappeared through the doorway in the cave. While planning their next move to get her back, a beamquake strikes, meaning the Crimson King is not wasting any time in destroying the Dark Tower (two beams must remain steadfast to hold all of existence together). Deciding to keep it to himself, Jake can hear Susannah screaming from another “when.” Time is running faster on the other side of the door … and running out.

With the help of Henchick, forty Manni-folk, magnets, and plumb-bobs, the gunslingers open the Unfound Door. But ka changes it up for them. Their plan was for Roland and Eddie to search for Susannah while Callahan and Jake go in search of Calvin Tower. They command Oy to stay put in the cave, but like I said, fate intervenes:

He tried to cry out—No, stop, let go, it’s too much!—and couldn’t. He tried to scream and heard it, but only inside his head. God, he was caught. Caught on the hook and being ripped in two.

One creature did hear his scream. Barking furiously, Oy darted forward. And as he did, the Unfound Door sprang open, swinging in a hissing arc just in front of Jake’s nose.

Behold!” Henchick cried in a voice that was at once terrible and exalted. “Behold, the door opens! Over-sam kammen! Can-tah, can-kavar kammen! Over-can-tah!

The others responded, but by then Jake Chambers had already been torn loose from Roland’s hand on his right. By then he was flying, but not alone.

Pere Callahan flew with him.

On June 1st, 1999, New Yorker Trudy Damascus is minding her own business when she witnesses Susannah/Mia step through to her world and grow legs—as if growing legs isn’t weird enough, they’re also several shades lighter than her natural skin tone. Mia demands a pair of shoes and the bag Trudy is carrying.

Mia is mostly in charge, though Susannah is operating in a sort of deep-state environment, controlling what she can and guiding Mia for her safety. Mia agrees to talk, and in a vision, they both slip back through to the cave where, for a moment, Susannah spots Eddie and Callahan before the Wolves attack. She hears Eddie mentioning the secret pouch within Black Thirteen’s Mid-World bowling bag. Mia/Susannah check to find a tiny scrimshaw turtle.

Its eyes were tiny black dots of some tarry stuff, and looked incredibly alive. She saw another small imperfection in the turtle’s beak—not a scratch but a crack.

“It’s old,” she whispered aloud. “So old.”

Yes, Mia whispered back.

Holding it made Susannah feel incredibly good. It made her feel … safe, somehow.

See the Turtle, she thought. See the Turtle of enormous girth, on his shell he holds the earth. Was that how it went? She thought it was at least close. And of course that was the Beam they had been following to the Tower. The Bear at one end—Shardik. The Turtle at the other—Maturin.

Illustration of Maturin from an alternate cover of SONG OF SUSANNAH.

A passing Swedish businessman, Mathiessen Van Wyck, becomes enamored by the Turtle, calling it a Sköldpadda—which is the Swedish word for turtle. Mats, as he asks to be called, seems a lonely-heart of sorts, confessing that his wife has taken a lover. Seizing an opportunity, Susannah instructs him to get a hotel for her, and he agrees. 

Later, when the hotel’s front-desk clerk demands identification, she quickly relents when she spots the turtle, going all glassy eyed and even offering up the eight thousand plus in her drawer for the item. This turtle definitely has some Jedi mind-trick pull working in its favor. A foreboding sign indicates that The New York Plaza-Park Hyatt will become The Regal U.N. Plaza Hotel under the auspices of the Great Sombra/North Central project. Can you say uh-oh again?

So far, The Dark Tower VI ranks high for sheer momentum. Our remaining ka-tet being swept through the door opposite to the plan and taking Oy along for the ride was a rush. And Susannah gaining a certain amount of control over her mind and seeing a vision of Eddie talking about the hidden pouch in the crystal ball’s bag was a sharp reveal. 

Song of Susannah is, arguably, the strongest start since The Drawing of the Three.

What did you think of the beginning of Song of Susannah? Head to the comments and start/join the conversation!

*Remember: Be careful with your comments—NO SPOILERS! We will be moderating the comments and deleting anything we feel is a spoiler, so pause before you post and make sure you're not ruining it for someone else.
 


The Dark Tower Reread Navigation
Wolves of the Calla Part VIII | Index | Song of Susannah Part II

 

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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

Comments

  1. Adam Wagner

    I loved the beginning of Song of Susannah—pure action. After the slow build of the previous two books, I’m glad things are finally ramping up. Hope to keep this pace till the end!

  2. Alan Williams

    Yes, great opening chapters and no hanging about, the complete opposite to Wolves with the drawn out build up and then short climax, I’m glad things moved on quickly from Calla.

    I wasn’t quite sure about Susannah’s new grown legs. I can see why it might be needed for the story, but it hasn’t been a problem telling the tales so far. I did have a wry smile at how Mia acquired her new shoes though 🙂

    The turtle was was a great device, with it’s mystical influence. I suspect we’ll be seeing a bit more of it in the coming chapters.

    As a shorter book, if this pace keeps up, it’s going to be a really great ride!

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