Last week, the tension built as the man in black showed up in Mejis. This week, plans are set in motion as we move towards a final showdown.
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, plans are set in motion and our ka-tet finds themselves arrested for treason. Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VI of Wizard and Glass: Come, Reap: Chapter 5 “Wizard's Rainbow” – Chapter 7: “Taking the Ball”!
Part III Come, Reap: Chapter 5 “Wizard's Rainbow” – Chapter 7: “Taking the Ball”
We are getting closer, fellow travelers, to one badass showdown, and it best be monster monumental after 500-plus pages of Wizard and Glass. Honest to Gilead, I’m enjoying the read, but we are approaching what feels like the oft-joked War and Peace realm.
Let’s jump right into it. The Good Man is setting his ultimate plan into action, which Roland anticipates as a head-to-head with the Affiliation northwest of Gilead. Each night, four full tankers depart Citgo under the watchful eye of a dozen men appointed by Jonas, leader of the Big Coffin Hunters. The fuel is being used to run machines leftover from a time before the world had moved on. Jonas is also hoping to draw out Roland, Cuthbert, and Alain, but the boys aren’t taking the bait.
Jonas gets the seal of approval for his plan from Latigo (The Good Man’s conduit with Jonas) that the boys will be arrested for treason on the day before Reaping. To ensure an angry, revenge-filled mob will rail against Roland’s ka-tet, Jonas plots to murder the mayor and pin the crime on Roland and friends. His plan has the full support of the mayor’s sister, who’s been listening to the palaver with Latigo … and who Jonas has been shagging (it’s an odd sort of affection between these two, like a perversion of Morticia and Gomez).
On the flipside, our ka-tet has been deliberating their counter-offensive. The obvious question is how do four teenagers lead an estimated two hundred warriors to their death? Answer is the thinny at Eyebolt Canyon where Roland will guide them to their Waterloo. Kinda knew that swirling death trap was on tap to play a larger part.
Susan mentions the word “pink,” which triggers something the boys remember Steven Deschain saying before they had left Gilead. Something to do with a magical globe, aka Maerlyn’s Grapefruit. When asked what the sorcery was capable of, Roland’s father had explained:
“For seeing. Some colors of the Wizard’s Rainbow are reputed to look into the future. Others look into the other worlds—those where the demons live, those where the Old People are supposed to have gone when they left our world. These may also show the location of the secret doors which pass between the worlds. Other colors, they say, can look far in our own world, and see things people would as soon keep secret.”
Of course, we—King’s Constant Readers—are way ahead, and Roland and Alain catch up by hypnotizing Susan. She reveals to them that Rhea has the magical orb and the witch doesn’t know that Susan knows. The ka-tet decides to let Rhea keep it for now because suspicion might arise since Farson had, via Jonas, given it to Rhea for safekeeping.
Tower sidebar: yeah, I’m thinking this isn’t a wise idea—Roland believes he has scared the witch enough that she won’t try anything, but how can he be so sure?
Going through her father’s old ledgers, Susan finds the last dozen pages torn out, raising questions that the ranchers were lying about the number of horses and quality of the stockline and, perhaps, Fran Lengyll had lied about her father’s death. Aunt Cordelia catches her snooping, both women snap at each other, and Susan leaves her home one last time.
The Big Coffin Hunters end up moving fast as our reading closed: Kimba Rimer is murdered by Clay Reynolds—stabbed to death with a 12” knife. Roy Depape slits Mayor Thorin’s throat, drops Cuthbert’s lookout into the deceased’s lap, and further incriminates Roland’s ka-tet by drawing The Good Man’s sigul on the wall. Roland, Cuthbert, and Alain are taken by surprise by Sheriff Avery, Jonas, Deputy Dave, Lengyll, and others:
Two cold circles slipped over Roland’s hands. There was a click and suddenly the arcs of the handcuffs were tight against his wrists.
“All right,” said another voice. “Now you, son.”
“Be damned if I will!” Cuthbert’s voice wavered on the edge of hysteria.
There was a thud and a muffled cry of pain. Roland turned around and saw Alain down on one knee, the heel of his left hand pressed against his forehead. Blood ran down his face.
Rhea, in the meantime, is unstable and losing her life force, as she coins it, to the crystal ball’s soul-sucking grip. This is the reason it was delivered to her in the first place, given its all-consuming hold over the viewer. As she deteriorates, she has sewn her pet snake’s head back onto its body and stares transfixed like a couch potato into the mystical glass, watching the town’s inhabitants go about their depraved activities. Or that seems to be the only channels she receives: the ones where boys pleasure themselves while staring through peepholes at their sisters and a piano player licks the stool where a whore had been sitting. Vast wasteland. Redemption comes, of sorts, when the Hunters arrive to retrieve Maerlyn’s Rainbow, finding Rhea looking like “a corpse that is trying to sneeze.”
She warns them that the crystal ball will never shine again for Farson unless she is brought along, and Jonas is wise enough to leave her in charge of the enchanted hell. And, so, it seems Rhea is going to play a bigger role in Wizard and Glass than I had anticipated. I assumed a comeuppance with Susan and Roland for sure, but now I’m thinking she’s a pivotal character in Farson’s plans against the Affiliation.
What will be Rhea's part in this showdown, and how will the Wizard's glass come into play? 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.