Last week, we opened Song of Susannah with a bang, as our gang gets split up and thrown to different whens. This week, the action continues with a thrilling shootout, and we get some answers about the demon baby inside Susannah/Mia.
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, the action continues with a thrilling shootout! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part II of Song of Susannah: 6th Stanza: “The Castle Allure” – 9th Stanza: “Eddie Bites His Tongue”!
6th Stanza: “The Castle Allure” – 9th Stanza: “Eddie Bites His Tongue”
We pick up our narrative with Mia explaining to Susannah Dean that they are deep into End-World, confirming Susannah’s (and Roland’s) suspicion that they are close to the Dark Tower. Mia says the worlds have come to “universal exhaustion” after an enlightened period where magic ruled. She also foreshadows that Roland’s death is imminent:
“He is responsible for much, Susannah of New York. The guilt of worlds hangs around his neck like a rotting corpse. Yet he’s gone far enough with his dry and lusty determination to finally draw the eyes of the great. He will be destroyed, aye, and all those who stand with him. I carry his doom in my own belly, and I care not.”
It’s also revealed that the Crimson King has been promised his own kingdom if he destroys the Dark Tower, which means there’s another master above him—though Mia has no idea who is the ultimate puller of the strings. And Mia’s baby, Mordred, is a linchpin in all these plans (Susannah realizes Mia is delusional if she thinks CK is going to let her raise it).
Then, the million dollar question of how Mia/Suze got pregnant is answered: turns out that an “elemental” held Roland’s seed after sex and then morphed into a male and passed it on to Susannah when she was holding the door open for Jake to pass through. Richard P. Sayre (remember him from Callahan’s story just before the good father committed suicide?) called Mia at the hotel and ordered her to go to The Dixie Pig on Sixty-First and Lexingworth to have Mordred.
From the moment Roland and Eddie land in Maine, we witness one of the most sustained, action-packed rat-a-tats of the entire series. Mia, who had listened in on their plans, sent them up the Penobscot without a paddle. Waiting to cut them down upon arrival is a series of thugs carting machine guns, headed by Jack Andolini—the same piece of shit who’d been killed before, uh, ten years in the future.
Eddie fired and Tricks went down on top of one of the guys already lying in the road, still firing his assault weapon at them as he did so. This was probably nothing more heroic than a finger-spasm, final signals sent from a dying brain, but Roland and Eddie had to throw themselves flat again, and the other five outlaws reached cover behind the old cars on this side of the road. Worse still. Backed by covering fire from the vehicles across the street—the vehicles these boys had come in, Roland was quite sure—they would soon be able to turn this little store into a shooting gallery without too much danger to themselves.
And they do. But our heroes, over the next twenty pages, fight back and win with the help of a local old man named John Cullum, who embodies that oft spoken true grit. After knocking out a majority of Andolini’s hired help, they escape and head to Cullum’s home, where Eddie asks about the author Stephen King.
I’ve been critical of this particular thread before, mainly because it takes me out of the story each time, though overall it’s just a pesky little hiccup in an otherwise brilliant read to date. Eddie ponders (as I cringe): “King’s a key, isn’t he? Calla, Callahan. Crimson King. Stephen King. Is Stephen King the Crimson King of this world?” (For the dedicated love of Oy, he’s really going to appear in his own story!)
When our duo finally meets up with Calvin Tower and Aaron Deepneau, Eddie—who despises Tower—tries to hold his tongue (and refrain from killing the bastard), but he quickly joins Roland and Aaron into shaming Tower into signing over the vacant lot to the Tet Corporation.
Song of Susannah has been as exciting as a roller coaster ride at Coney Island on the Fourth of July. And I guess I better get used to the idea that Roland and Eddie are going to meet up with a certain Maine story-spinner, the same one who’s weaving this incredible journey.
What did you think of Part II 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.
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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.