The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass, Part III

Last week, we traveled back to Mejis to learn of Roland's backstory. This week, the romance between Roland and Susan flourishes as we meet our villains: The Big Coffin Hunters

Thank you for joining me on a journey of Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass (1997), the 4th book in The Dark Tower series. When we left Roland, Jake, Susannah, Eddie, and Oy the billy-bumbler, they were trapped on the psychotic locomotive, Blaine the Mono, crossing through the feared waste lands. Our ka-tet had narrowly escaped the destruction of Lud that Blaine had decimated with gas—but for what? To become prisoners aboard a train bulleting into a desolate hell populated by fierce beasts, with a guide that’s clearly mad. Yeah, it looks like we are bound to have a helluva lot of fun as we continue our journey to the Dark Tower.

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

We're back to wacky Stephen King chapters, so the plan is to read a section a week (about 100 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, Roland falls hard for Susan as we meet our villains: The Big Coffin Hunters. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part III of Wizard and Glass: Susan: Chapter 5 “Welcome to Town” – Chapter 7 “On the Drop”!

CrimeHQ's The Dark Tower Reread

Part II Susan: Chapter 5 “Welcome to Town” – Chapter 7 “On the Drop”

Roland, Cuthbert, and Alain arrive in Hambry under the pretenses of a “special mission from the Affiliation to serve as counters of all materials which might serve the Affiliation.” First contact is gregarious Sheriff Herk Avery and his deputies, who clearly view the trio for what they happen to be—green. After reporting in, they attend Mayor Thorin’s elaborate welcoming party where everyone that matters is in attendance—though, only one really matters to Roland:

His eye was held by Susan Delgado: the blue dress, the tanned skin, the triangles of color, too pale and perfect to be makeup, which ran lightly up her cheeks; most of all her hair, which was unbound tonight and fell to her waist like a shimmer of palest silk. He wanted her, suddenly and completely, with a desperate depth of feeling that felt like sickness. Everything he was and everything he had come for, it seemed, was secondary to her.

Remember, Roland and Susan had agreed they would act as though they had never met so as not to raise suspicions. Unfortunately for Susan, her Aunt Cordelia notices her giving Roland the googly eyes, and in a private moment, Cordelia vehemently warns Susan to stop.

Adding to their less than ideal reunion, Roland learns at the shindig that his love is a gilly (a whore—more or less) bequeathed to the mayor. When she whispers, “Thank you for your discretion and your propriety,” he stings her with a sharp, unexpected rebuke: “As for propriety? I’m amazed you even know the word.” Way to go, Roland! Nothing like shooting before gathering all the facts. He even mused that if he’d had a gun he probably could have shot her through the heart! Now that’s some crazy, out-of-control Elvis Burning Love.

The Big Coffin Hunters: Clay Reynolds, Roy Depape, Eldred Jonas
Later, at the Traveller’s Rest (think of it as a combination of Sodom and Gomorrah with the Star Wars cantina mixed in for maximum debauchery), Cuthbert draws his slingshot to stop Big Coffin Hunter Depape from killing a simple-minded helper named Sheemie who had spilled a “bucket of slops” on his boots. Reynolds draws on Cuthbert but is upstaged by Alain putting a knife to his throat. Just then Big Coffin el jefe Jonas happens upon Alain, but Jonas is being spied on by Roland. 

Really? This routine had become a Western cliché by the time The Duke hung up his spurs. When Jonas feels the point of Roland’s weapon against his back he laments to himself “how such a ludicrous, maddening turn of events could have happened.” No one is killed, and later the sheriff insists that they all forget it ever happened—but the encounter alerts Jonas to an almost unfathomable possibility:

“They may be rich boys, but that’s not all they are,” Depape said. “The way they were tonight … they were like …” He trailed off, not quite willing to finish the thought. It was too absurd.

Jonas was willing. “They acted like gunslingers.”

Jonas sends Depape to backtrack Roland and his ka-tet’s trail to validate their hunch. In the meantime, a smitten Roland sends flowers to Susan, which reboots their romance, and when they meet once again in private he professes his love for her. King mentions in an afterword that he was concerned about writing the romance scenes, but I found them touching and not Danielle Steele overblown.

Roland doesn’t forget his plenipotentiary duties altogether as he verifies his suspicions via Susan’s confirmation that there are more horses in the area than there should be and that he’s being lied to by the Horseman’s Association. But why?

A highlight was Roland seeing a connection between the mother he despises (for her sexual indiscretion with Marten) and Susan’s current predicament. Also, Cuthbert being aware that something is going on between Roland and Susan from a stray blonde hair on the gunslinger’s coat, though he and Alain keep their findings quiet.

Overall, I found the first showdown with the Big Coffin Hunters lacking, but it’s counterbalanced with interesting sequences of the budding romance of Roland and Susan and the ka-tet’s uneasy assimilation into town. What was your take?

What do you think of the showdown at the Traveller's Rest? 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 Navagation
Wizard and Glass Part II | Index | Wizard and Glass Part IV


To order a copy and follow along, visit:

Buy at iTunes

Buy at Barnes and NobleBuy at Amazon



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.


  1. Alan Williams

    I was a little frustrated by these chapters, but I think it’s just King baiting the reader and building the story. I feel that there’ll be some action and romance to come although I doubt it will be straightforward.

    We’re not halfway through this book, and I’m wondering where the story will take us, good stuff though!

  2. David Cranmer

    I’m with you, tontowilliams, I believe he wants to have us fully invested in Susan and Roland’s romance so when the end comes it’s going to be an emotional wallop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.