I recently finished Stephen King’s Wolves of the Calla, the 5th in a series of 7 following the path of Roland the Gunslinger on his way to the Dark Tower. I read the first book years ago and really enjoyed first four, but #5 was almost embarrassing to read. Read on for my review, because I can’t talk about it without giving away the plot. If you’re going to read it, don’t read the review.I loved The Gunslinger because it was so different from any Stephen King novel I’d read before. It didn’t follow his standard formula and had only one main character instead of the 5-8 in all his other novels. He ditched that idea by book 2, but I was ok with that because I liked the setting, the characters, and the overall story arc of this gritty, impossible quest to find the dark tower.
I heard a lot of people didn’t like Wizard and Glass (#4), because it was almost entirely a flashback. I disagree and thought the story needed to flesh out more backstory before continuing on. It’s my 2nd favorite of the series.
I had high hopes for Wolves of the Calla after reading the first chapter online months ago. Stephen King released it as part of the book’s promotion. The story about wolves kidnapping children and a robot messenger seemed interesting, and it was, but King threw so much utter crap into this story that it made the Wolves plotline almost irrelevant. Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot shows up, and not as a minor character. He’s a full fledged member of the gang now. What the hell? I understand Stephen King is using the Dark Tower series to connect some of his works and I’m ok with that, but couldn’t he leave it more in the background? It’s like in the Phantom Menace. There are “ET” aliens in the Republic’s legislature and you see them very briefly. Do they end up fighting along side Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi? Even Lucas knows this would be an idiotic idea and he makes some of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen! Up until now, the connections to other novels had been brief and unintrusive.
The absolute worst part was when the Wolves finally show up wielding light sabres, Dr. Doom masks, and Harry Potter sneetches. Not things like “light sabres” and “sneetches,” but the actual things. The sneetches had a label that read, “Sneetches: Harry Potter model.”
Not only does Father Callahan show up, but they end up finding a copy of Salem’s Lot at a book store. I felt like I was reading Space Balls the book when that happened. It’s a shame, too, because the Wolves story was kind of cool when it started out.
It’s obvious where Stephen King is headed with this. Stephen King himself is at the top of the Dark Tower and no more stories will be left to tell when Roland gets there. The Crimson “Stephen” King represents failure, his accident, depression, critics, and anything that keeps King from finishing the series and Roland from reaching the Dark Tower.
The sad part is that I loved Breakfast of Champions.