Last week, a van nearly took the author's life. This week, we're left wondering if laughter really is the best medicine.
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, we are left wondering if laughter really is the best medicine. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part V of The Dark Tower: PART FOUR: The White Lands of Empathica, Dandelo!
PART FOUR: The White Lands of Empathica, Dandelo
It seems Susannah Dean is beginning to have her doubts about moving forward, and who can blame her? Without legs, she has dragged herself across dimensions and deserts, overcome a split personality only to be taken over by Mia witnessing the birth of baby Mordred, and experienced the death of her beloved husband Eddie and young friend Jake Chambers. To Roland, she expresses courage to continue on, but there is an interesting development in her character: she’s throwing in the towel. In a dream she has of Eddie and Jake, it seems that they are very much alive, and she wants to be with them. It’s Christmastime in New York, and all three of them are happy. Will this dream come true? Betcha.
As for “Stephen King,” I've gotta admit I’ve grown comfortable with the author in the story now. Not sure what changed since Song of Susannah, where it came across as a big ugh. Either I’m finally getting it as a reader or “Stephen King” better fits these passages than in Song. Apropos that King questions killing off the boy because I’m not sure why he needed to myself. In Maine, the King of Horror thinks:
… it was so odd for Jake to die like that. Jake is in all his notes, and no surprise there, because Jake was supposed to be around until the very end. All of them were, in fact. Of course no story except a bad one, one that arrives DOA, is ever completely under the writer’s control, but this one is so out of control it’s ridiculous. It really is more like watching something happen—or listening to a song—than writing a damned made-up story.
Under Castle Discordia, King excels again in the horror department with our trio racing in pitch-black darkness through a narrow passageway away from an enormous creature out for lunch. Susannah lights torches, setting bone fragments from former victims on fire in attempts to thwart the monstrosity from its latest meal.
Into the badlands they go, where the cold nights are particularly harsh on Suze. Eventually, they arrive at the Le Casse Roi Russe, The Crimson King’s former castle, where they easily overcome a band of assassins in the image of King.
At the crossing of Tower Road and Odd’s Lane, they meet a formidable opponent disguised as a cheerful old man who Roland and Susannah take an instant liking to: Joe Collins. But danger, Will Robinson … Odd’s Lane is an anagram for Dandelo, a name that Eddie had warned them about. Dandelo feeds off their reaction to his jokes until Susannah slaps her face hard enough to draw blood from a sore. Excusing herself to the bathroom, she finds that King has dropped a direct warning, leading her to decipher the anagram just in time. Standing over Roland, Dandelo has metamorphosed back into his true self, reminding her of a “psychotic clown.”
Susannah laced her hands together into a single fist, raised them to the height of her right shoulder, then brought them down and sideways with all the force she could manage. The fist struck the side of Joe’s head hard enough to knock him away. She had connected with solid bone, however, and the pain in her hands was excruciating.
Susannah manages to get to her gun and kill Dandelo, and after looking about the cottage, she now sees its rundown reality. Roland begs for her forgiveness for not anticipating the trap Dandelo had set, but Suze reminds him of the number of times he has saved her. A tender moment between the two, and I’ve grown to like Susannah Dean considering I found her origin story to be less interesting than that of Eddie or Jake. What a powerhouse with backbone she has become.
They are interrupted by a chilling “thin cry” from the cellar. It’s Patrick Danville, imprisoned, his tongue removed. At first, he’s terrified of Roland. Dandelo has been feeding on him for years, and the young man is severely malnourished. Soon, they convince him they are there to help and discover he has a hidden talent: he’s quite the artist, instantly creating very lifelike drawings. Our reading for this section ends with our group meeting Stuttering Bill, another robot, while Mordred watches their every move from a short distance away.
Strong passages with lots of foreshadowing, including Eddie—via dreams—telling Susannah that Roland needs to move forward on his own and Susannah seeing a Danville piece of art featuring Oy with an X over it. I also thought it was a nice, sharp touch of King to drop the Robert Browning poem into the proceedings.
And the Tower is damn close, friends. Damn close.
What did you think of Part V 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.
|The Dark Tower Reread Navigation|
|The Dark Tower Part IV||| Index |||The Dark Tower Part VI|
To order a copy and follow along, visit:
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.