Last week, we lost Father Callahan but ran into an old friend. This week, the ka-tet loses another at the Battle of Devar-Toi as they free the Breakers and save the beam.
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 loses another at the Battle of Devar-Toi as they free the Breakers and save the beam. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part III of The Dark Tower: PART TWO: Blue Heaven, Devar-Toi: VIII: “Notes from the Ginger Bread House” – XII: “The Tet Breaks”!
PART TWO: Blue Heaven, Devar-Toi: VIII: “Notes from the Ginger Bread House” – XII: “The Tet Breaks”
In some reel-to-reel tapes left for Roland’s ka-tet, Ted Brautigan tells his story, which also goes a long way in expanding our knowledge of the gunslinger’s old pal Sheemie and of Dinky Earnshaw. All three are telepaths: Ted can kill men with his mind, Sheemie can teleport great distances, and Dinky has created a fistula in time, an anomaly known as the Gingerbread House, which is described as a “balcony on the Dark Tower.” The unusual candy dwelling serves as a place to escape from the many can-tois that hold them prisoner, and it is also where Brautigan relates his tale.
He was born at the end of the 19th century, and in 1955, after answering an ad placed by a Hume, he was taken through a door in Santa Mira where he arrived in Thunderclap. He’d been forced into becoming one of the Breakers who, unbeknownst to them, are using their powers to destroy the remaining beams.
The can-toi wear special hats to protect their minds from being compromised by the Breakers. But one named Trampas has a bad case of eczema and, from time to time, briefly lifts his headgear to ease the pain. This allows Ted to probe his thoughts. He learns the truth of their mission is to destroy the Dark Tower and bring about the destruction of two worlds.
During the course of listening to these memoirs of sorts, Roland is alarmed that “Stephen King” will be killed by The Crimson King on June 19, 1999. (The words that King puts in the gunslinger’s mouth turns out a nice little look at the flipside, with his own creation knocking his chops—and authors in general—by saying, “They tell tales because they’re afraid of life.”) Susannah reminds them everything in that timeline moves faster and it is nearly the appointed date.
“I think she’s right,” Jake said. “I think it’s June 19th. That’s when King gets turned into roadkill and even the chance that he might go back to work on the Dark Tower story—our story—is kaput. Gan’s Beam is lost in the overload. Shardik’s Beam is left, but it’s already eroded.” He looked at Roland, his face pale, his lips almost blue. “It’ll snap like a toothpick.”
The next morning, Roland shows Jake evidence—including black hairs and tracks—that Mordred the seven-legged freak not only has been following them but has been listening to their plans. Both decide to hide the info from the others, especially Susannah, believing she would be alarmed by the news. Really, Roland? She’s a tough gunslinger who saved herself from a bunch of vampires and even tried to kill Mordred.
Leading up to the battle, Ted, Dinky, and Sheemie return with Haylis, a Rod—a Child of Roderick who follows The White. (He becomes instrumental in planting sneetches before the attack in and around Algul Siento.) Each teleportation induces a brain hemorrhage in Sheemie, and as little as three to four jaunts remain before he will die. Sheemie also shares the nightmare he had of a disfigured boy, a dream also experienced by Jake, Eddie, and Susannah.
The attack is deftly executed, and along with the gun battle in Song of Susannah and saloon shootout in The Gunslinger, it builds in intensity because we are aware someone is going to bite it. This time, that someone is Eddie Dean, a character we’ve been invested in ever since Roland first met the drugged-out ne’er-do-well on the plane in The Drawing of The Three. As Susannah watches her man drop, our hearts sink along with her.
Then she saw the blood running from beneath his pressing hand, pattering down into the street, and knew it was bad.
“Suze?” he asked. His voice was perfectly clear. “Suzie, where are you? I can’t see.”
He took one step, a second, a third … and then fell facedown in the street, just as Gran-pere Jaffords had known he would, aye, from the first moment he’d laid eyes on him. For the boy was a gunslinger, say true, and it was the only end that one such as he could expect.
King is good at pulling the heartstrings. After Eddie says goodbye to each member of the ka-tet (and warns Jake of Mordred and someone named Dandelo), the master storyteller has Eddie saying to Susannah: “I … will … wait for you.”
Heartbreaking, wouldn’t you say?
What did you think of Part III 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.