The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla Part VIII

Last week, Jake discovered Slightman the Elder's treasonous plan as the Calla geared up for the fight of their lives. This week, the battle against the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla

Our previous read, The Wind Through The Keyhole, waylaid us in a town hall as a starkblast trapped our ka-tet with freezing conditions. Roland of Gilead spent the time palavering with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy about long ago when him and fellow gunslinger Jamie tracked down and killed the shapeshifter Skin-Man. Intertwined in the narrative, we discover that Roland’s mother Gabrielle had learned from Randall Flagg that her son would murder her, and so in a letter she’d written in advance, she absolved Roland of the deed. After the icy weather passes, the ka-tet emerges and heads along the Path of the Beam toward Thunderclap.

*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, the battle with the Wolves commences as we close out Wolves of the Calla! Join us in the comments for a discussion of Part VIII of Wolves of the Calla: Part Three The Wolves, VII: “The Wolves” – Epilogue: “The Doorway Cave”!


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Part Three The Wolves, VII: “The Wolves” – Epilogue: “The Doorway Cave”

And the wolves came … and then it was over, just a little too quick for my tastes—though the action presented was stirring. Skipping the play by play and hitting the highlights instead, here we go:

Illustration from WOLVES OF THE CALLA.

For starters, Jake’s friend Ben died, and I think most of us saw that coming (either that or it’d be the dad kicking it), but King took the right approach. Jake is now a man, having left childhood behind, and Ben Slightman the Elder will have to live with his treachery. That being said, I was never fully invested in the relationship between the two boys, and Ben’s passing ended up being just another death. I did think Roland holding back Eddie from rescuing Jake, letting the young man come into his own, was edge-of-your-seat suspense as the wolves bore down on the kids.

The Sisters of Oriza fought a helluva battle with Susannah at their side—but Suze had to make a promise to Mia: she’ll let the new personality take over once the battle has been fought and won, and she will bear the demon’s spawn.

Susannah cut the thinking-cap off the Wolf which had killed Margaret with one plate, then did for the one who had killed Jake’s friend with another. She pulled two fresh Rizas from her sacks and turned back to the oncoming Wolves just as the first one leaped into the ditch, it’s horse’s chest knocking Roland asprawl. It brandished its sword over the gunslinger. To Susannah it looked like a brilliant red-orange tube of neon. 

No you don’t, muhfuh!” she screamed, and slung the plate in her right hand. It sheared through the gleaming saber and the weapon simply exploded at the hilt, tearing off the Wolf’s arm.

A fun flourish—besides the light sticks resembling Star Wars lightsabers that the wolves carry, there were nifty deathballs with a clever description on the side: “Sneetch.” Harry Potter Model, serial #465-11-AA HPJKR, Caution, EXPLOSIVE. The Sage of Bangor is definitely mining pop culture for what it is worth, but then there’s that book Roland noticed in the cave. After the battle with the wolves is won, he shows Jake, Eddie, and Father Callahan the 1970’s classic, which is “Salem’s Lot … A novel by Stephen King.” Father Callahan reads:

“ ‘… a friend of Father Callahan’s had given him a blasphemous crewelwork sampler which had sent him into gales of horrified laughter at the time, but which seemed more true and less blasphemous as the years passed: God grant me the SERENITY to accept what I cannot change, the TENACITY to change what I may, and the GOOD LUCK not to fuck up too often. This in Old English script with a rising sun in the background.

“ ‘Now, standing before Danny Glick’s … Danny Glick’s mourners, that old creedo … that old credo returned,’ ”

The hand holding the book sagged. If Jake hadn’t caught it, it probably would have tumbled to the floor of the cave. 

A leap too far? It was for me—took me right outta of the novel like The Emerald City in Wizard and Glass had done. Although I’ll admit, Callahan’s line “I am not a fiction … am I?” was something out of a Nabokov novel. Having a character questioning his own consciousness is a weirdness that I can appreciate. Still, Stephen King’s characters gaining a consciousness of sorts? I’m not sure there. 

With a bigger cliffhanger than even Blaine the Mono, here we have Susannah being absorbed by Mia, taking Black Thirteen, heading to the doorway and disappearing. Without legs, yet moving like a possessed woman—which she is—she swiftly crosses the transom to some other when to deliver. Eddie is beside himself and practically begs Roland to go after Susannah, which Roland agrees by saying, “I believe the Dark Tower is almost close enough to touch. And if the Tower is close, Susannah is, too.”

Overall, a very satisfying novel that I would rank high up there next to The Drawing of the Three. And you?

What did you think of the ending of Wolves of the Calla? 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
Wolves of the Calla Part VII | Index | Song of Susannah Part I

 

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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.

Comments

  1. Alan Williams

    It was a disappointing battle with the Wolves, after all the build up, over far too quickly and actually quite a straightforward take down of what King had led us to believe we’re going to be ferocious adversaries.

    No real surprise that Mia rose when she did, but a good lead in to the next book.

    I enjoyed the book overall, but really felt it was let down in those last 60 or so pages.

  2. David Cranmer

    The shoot out in The Gunslinger and later escaping Lud set the standard high. I even felt the little glimpse we had of Jericho with Cuthbert being cut down was far more exciting.

  3. Adam Wagner

    Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree with @tontowilliams. I thought the book was solid overall, and I really enjoyed it, but what a disappointing final battle.

    After the slow burn of Wizard and Glass, I enjoyed being back with Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy—especially their trips through the door to NYC—but for the second straight book I was left disappointed after the hundreds of pages of buildup.

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