Last week, Roland and Susan struggled with their feelings for each other. This week, secrets abound as the gunslingers learn of Farson's plan in Mejis, the Big Coffin Hunters learn of the gunslingers true background, and Roland and Susan throw caution to the wind by consummating their forbidden love.
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, secrets abound as the tension builds all around Mejis. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part IV of Wizard and Glass: Susan: Chapter 8 “Beneath the Peddler's Moon” – Interlude: “Kansas, Somewhere, Somewhen”!
Part II Susan: Chapter 8 “Beneath the Peddler's Moon” – Interlude: “Kansas, Somewhere, Somewhen”
Depape, one of the three Big Coffin Hunters, has the lowdown and is heading back to Hambry to tell his comrades Jonas and Reynolds what they had already suspected—they are dealing with gunslingers. Meanwhile, the targets of his inquiry, Roland, Cuthbert, and Alain, are traversing the area collecting data—counting as it’s called: livestock, weapons, etc.
Near Eyebolt Canyon, the Gilead trio hear a thinny, that eerily “low, atonal squalling.” This is the first time chronologically that Roland has experienced the phenomenon where time and space are coming unglued. They stare in awe at the cauldron of waiting death, which I’m fairly certain will prefigure coming events—don’t you?
Roland receives a message from his father, via a carrier pigeon, and immediately calls for Susan to join him at Citgo where he expects to find some answers, but she replies with a message of her own: “It’s best we don’t meet. I’m sorry.” Restless nights later, wondering whether her father had been killed by nefarious local elements, she relents and meets Roland at an orange grove near the oil patch. Their lust can’t be held at bay any longer, and they engage in some heavy teenage petting of sorts that is watched from a great distance away:
Ermot twined around one of her scrawny legs, hissing with agitation, but she barely noticed him. Instead she bent even closer into the ball’s poison pink glow, enchanted by what she saw there.
Rhea, the witch who had verified Susan’s virginity for Mayor Thorin, is obsessed, peering into the magical sphere. Simultaneously, a feeling of being observed overcomes Susan and her intuition shuts down Rhea’s private feed. (There’s a Wicked Witch of the West vibe as she had spied on Dorothy.) Roland and Susan’s investigation of the oilfield reveals that the crude is still being tapped, and undoubtedly it's a certain Farson—the Good Man—behind it, hoping to possibly use the long-since-silent war machines powered by the black gold.
Later, the horny mayor dry humps Susan while she is being fitted for a dress, and it’s more than she can handle—she finally breaks her promise and makes love to Roland.
They helped each other with their clothes; they lay naked in each other’s arms on summer moss as soft as the finest goosedown. They lay with their foreheads touching, as in her daydream, and when he found his way into her, she felt pain melt into sweetness like some wild and exotic herb that may only be tasted once in each lifetime.
The tender moment of young love is short lived because Rhea is still “eavesdropping,” though her mutie cat’s “mistimed leap” once again disrupts her magical feed, and her spell. That spell was supposed to work after Mayor Thorin had sex with Susan, but it is now transpiring as she walks to the water’s edge, selects a razor sharp stone, and begins cutting her hair. Roland brings her back by clucking in her ear and twisting her wrist.
I had been expecting a little more than a cruel trick from Rhea when she originally cast her spell? Why would she have done this? If it had worked against the mayor, wouldn’t he have immediately realized it had been the witch who had set this hypnotized trap?
Overall, the invigorating prolongation of this backstory had me forgetting all about Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy. Interlude: “Kansas, Somewhere, Somewhen” brings us back to Roland’s present. It’s a testament to King’s skills that he’s able to effectively place one story on hold for several hundred pages to tell another.
Eddie Dean asks the obvious questions: how is Roland able to tell so many different angles of this history, and why does it seem like they have been there for days? Roland explains, “But time is different here. I’ve told you that; now you see for yourself.”
Can’t wait, gunslinger. Keep talking.
What do you think of Roland and Susan's forbidden love? 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.