Last week, we began our final book of the series, The Dark Tower, with a chilling and thrilling opening. This week, the ka-tet reunites (minus the late Father Callahan) and Roland runs into an old friend.
The Dark Tower is very close, but our ka-tet is spread far and wide. Roland and Eddie are in 1977 where they have just finished meeting with the author Stephen King. In 1999, Father Callahan and Jake are about to storm The Dixie Pig lounge where Susannah is being held along with Mia, who is about to give birth to an unholy demon: this child has the DNA combo of Roland and Susannah and a “co-father” in the Crimson King. So, we are very close to our destination, the stakes are high, and it’s anybody’s guess who will live to see The Dark Tower.
*Remember: While this is a reread, please avoid spoilers in the comments. The point is to get there together!
The Dark Tower looms on the horizon for both our ka-tet and you, our loyal readers, as we count down the days to the premiere of The Dark Tower film. The plan is to finish the series on the Tuesday before the premiere, so we'll be splitting The Dark Tower into six sections (about 200 pages each) and meeting 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 ka-tet reunites and Roland runs into an old friend. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part II of The Dark Tower: PART TWO: Blue Heaven, Devar-Toi: 1: “The Devar-Tete” – VII: “Ka-Shume”!
PART TWO: Blue Heaven, Devar-Toi: 1: “The Devar-Tete” – VII: “Ka-Shume”
Our ka-tet takes a breather, catching up with each other’s separate tribulations and briefly mourning Father Callahan. Jake is hit particularly hard by the priest’s sacrifice. Additional palaver centers on Mordred Deschain, who has been created to kill Roland to stop the gunslinger’s search for the tower and then ascend the Crimson King’s throne. Roland has decided that before Mordred is slain, they need to eradicate the Breakers who are destroying the two beams that remain.
Mordred is lurking close by. He’s aging rapidly but still needs help gathering food, and the domestic robot Nigel—who is also assisting the ka-tet—brings rats and a billy-bumbler for the spider creature to munch on. Through a trap-door comes an unexpected guest: Randall Flagg, aka the man in black, who has plans to use the Crimson King’s son’s sigul to take over the Dark Tower. Flagg underestimates the demon baby, who wastes no time in rummaging around inside Flagg’s head … nor does he waste any time in making Flagg his next meal, beginning with the eyes and followed by his tongue.
Walter had rolled onto his side and was feeling blindly for the trapdoor, something inside still screaming that he should not give up but keep trying to escape the monster that was eating him alive.
With the taste of blood in his mouth, all interest in foreplay departed Mordred. He was reduced to his central core, which was mostly appetite. He pounced upon Randall Flagg, Walter o’ Dim, Walter Padick that was. There were more screams, but only a few. And then Roland’s old enemy was no more.
Evil such as Flagg has to have a major comeuppance for the readers, and his ending was very satisfying. It also created in Mordred an even greater antagonist for Roland.
Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy slip through a doorway portal where they are met by three men: Ted Brautigan, Dinky Earnshaw, and Stanley Ruiz. They help the ka-tet escape from the fast-approaching taheen, led by Finli o’ Tego, “The Weasel.” The trio directs them to a small closet where they cross another transom, this time to Steek-Tete, the Little Needle in Thunderclap.
One of the men, Stanley, has been staring at Roland with a strong sense of recognition—a long-ago familiarity. The gunslinger realizes he’s Sheemie, the faithful follower of Roland’s first ka-tet of Cuthbert, Alain, and the doomed Susan Delgado.
The man raised his face slowly. Tears were streaming from his eyes.
“Good old Will Dearborn,” he said. His voice was hoarse, and jigged up and down through the registers as a voice will do when it has lain long unused. “I’m so sorry, sai. Were you to pull your gun and shoot me, I’d understand. So I would.”
Sheemie has forever held the guilt of not being able to save Susan, but Roland releases him from that heart-rending burden by saying the accountability lies with Rhea of the Coos. What a great turn of events this happens to be, and because we had spent so much time with Sheemie in Wizard and Glass, it’s quite the emotional tug.
The ka-tet is then shown a cave with sleeping bags, food, AR-15s, sneetches, and even an electric trike for Susannah. As they study the terrain with a map and binoculars, Jake senses the same vibe he had just before Roland let him fall to his death, and Roland is certain that one of his team is destined to die. Jake says to Roland, “Ka-shume means death, doesn’t it? Which one of us will it be?” Roland doesn’t know but feels certain it won’t be him. He takes the time to tell each one he loves them and gives them a kiss. Beautiful, poignant passage.
King then pulls the narrative back from the cave, up the cliff to where a seven-legged spider sits listening. Mordred could warn the Crimson King, but for his own selfish reasons—which includes the pleasure of killing Roland himself—he decides he will let the battle between the Breakers and Roland play out.
What did you think of Part II of The Dark Tower? 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.