bookspluslife

July 16, 2017

Book: The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:52 pm

imageWritten later than when the whole series was finished as an e book, the story is supposed to come between Volumes 4 & 5. This happens after Wizard And Glass in the story sequence. That book and some earlier books have been reviewed here before. 

Let me tell you right upfront. This is actually a collection of stories masquerading as a story in the series. Let me also tell you something else. This is one of the best if not the best books in the series!

Jake, Oye, Susannah, Eddie and Roland, following the path of the Beam and meet Bix, who agrees to take them on his raft along the river partway. They find that there is a starkburst (storm) brewing and take shelter. How to pass time? They tell stories to each other. So this is, rather like a couple of stories set in the Tower World. In addition, these are told as stories within stories, so that you come back to the outer story when the inner story is complete.

The first one is about Roland himself, after his mother’s death. He cares for Cort who is an invalid and is berated by Roland’s father for that.

He sends him to Debaria, where a supposed skin-man, who is a shape changer, is terrorizing the city. He gives as Roland’s companion Jamie DeCurrie. Both he and the coach attendant on his way warn them of Serenity, where young women pretty and deadly as the Sirens of  Homer’s Iliad reside. But he finds the Everxxx very cordial and she even knows his mom, Roland discovers.

 

He then travels to Debaria and meets the sheriff there, an old colleague of his dad, Steven Deschain. He learns that the skin changer, who, in the form of a massive bear, massacres a whole family has a tattoo on his leg in his human form, by a boy who survived by hiding in the stable.

 

The gunslinger, on the request of the surviving boy Bill, starts a story. This is a story (Roland and co) telling a story of himself, telling an imaginary story…

 

The new story called Wind through the Keyhole is about Tim, his mother Nell and father Big Ross (Jack Ross, really). Big Ross is killed by a dragon in the Ironwood forest, leaving Nell and Tim destitute, unable to pay taxes. Nell’s childhood friend Bern Kells who loved her and lost her to Ross without rancour, offers to take her in and marry her.

 

Kells turns out to be abusive, evil. He makes Tim work in the saw mill factory.  When Kell vacates his own home to move in with Nell and Tim, he brings a trunk that is always kept locked.

 

When the Covenant man comes for taxes, he quakes and gives away Nell’s money as taxes. They lost everything and Kells continually abuses both Tim and Nell and leaves. The Covenant man, before going away, gives Tim a magic key and asks Tim to meet him in the Ironwood Forest if he dares. After a particularly brutal beating by Kell of Nell and when he is gone on his drinking binges (which makes him even more violent), Tim opens the trunk and discovers his father’s chain and the lucky coin. The dragon fire should have singed it. Why has it not?

 

He decides to find out and goes to the Covenant Man, who shows Tim that Kell had murdered his father and even shows him the body under a stream. (With nice twists like flesh eating bugs in another part of the water and a very scary pooky – which is a large snake – waiting to sink its fangs into anyone who dares come that way). And to add to the intrigue, Nell tells Tim (earlier) that the Covenant Man has never aged in all the time she saw him.

 

When Tim discovers that Kell has come back, discovered the trunk open (Tim cannot lock it as the magic dies when the key is used once), he flows into a rage and brutalizes Nell who, in a trauma to her head, has lost the sight and is near death. He flies to her assistance but not before receiving his father’s special Axe from the Covenant Man. Tim’s teacher Widow Smack, who is always veiled due to disfigurement and is a close friend of Nell, warns Tim against Covenant Man and begs Tim not to believe in that man’s lies.  When he refuses to turn back from what he set out to do, she gives him a gun for his own protection.

 

There is a Tinkerbell like glowing sighe (“fairy”) who is in the employ of the Covenant Man. She leads him into the Ironwood Forest this time. She is evil and lands him on the head of a sleeping dragon. Tim manages to jump off but only to a small island and the dragon faces him, preparing to fry him. He also realizes that he was always in danger of being eaten by flesh eating fish which always followed him.

 

When he recognizes the treachery and is faced with certain death by carrion eating strange fish, he uses the gun and gains the admiration of the swamp people. What follows is fabulous. He is looking for Maerlyn and greatest wizard, who was in the court of Arthur Eld (sound familiar?) and instead meets a life threatening situation again – a castle whose doors are locked and the key and a keycard tied to the neck of a tiger, pacing in a cage and looking very hungry. In addition, the starkblast (a freezing storm that suddenly comes and kills everything in sight) approaches.

 

How he manages from there is a pure delightful narration until the very end of the story. Then the story focuses back to the skin changer. How they identify him and how they kill him is told wonderfully as well. All in all, a very satisfying book.

 

9/10

– – Krishna

 

August 6, 2016

Book: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:41 pm

imageThis is the fourth  book in the Dark Tower series.

 

This continues the story of the Black Tower or the Gunslinger series. The earlier books are The Gulslinger and  The Drawing of the Three, which have been reviewed here earlier and The Wastelands.

 

The story continues where the previous book left off, and starts with a riddling contest between Blaine the evil train and the quartet of travellers (Roland, Eddie, Susanne and Jake) plus Oy. They seem to be losing badly as Blaine’s memory banks seem invincible. In between they are treated to a desolate view outside (Blaine can make the carriage they are sitting in transparent) with the weird animals and even weirder natural wonders – a huge waterfall. Blaine recharges himself on the Beam’s force fields. When everything almost seems lost, Eddie comes into his own and flummoxes Blaine in a spectacular fashion.

 

They move on and find USA destroyed by a contagious superflu that has wiped out the entire population. Walk on in a lonely path and hear “thinnies”, which contain a warble that can drive your mind insane unless you stuff the old Roland world’s bullets in your ears.

 

Roland tells his past story which starts with Susan Delgado being betrothed to an old rich man who will lift her family out of poverty and she is checked out for ‘purity’ by an old evil witch. On the way back she meets Roland, who is young and introduces himself with a false name of Will Dearborn.

 

She falls hopelessly in love with him and the witch sees it in a crystal ball.

 

In the meanwhile Roland, Cuthbert and Alain stop the town bullies with coffins tattooed on their arms and win the enmity and suspicion of the whole town. An underdog finds that one of them is really the son of a gunslinger.

 

Susan has been promised to Mayor Thorin as his gilly in return for money, land, and riches for her family. Falling in love with Roland was not supposed to be part of the plan. She helps him discover massive hoard of oil to be given to the enemies of his land.

 

They succumb to temptation and do the beast with two backs and they cannot seem to stop. In the meanwhile, the thugs with the coffin tattoo get very suspicious about them and are surprised at their facility with weaponry.

 

The witch tries to spoil their plot and send a note through Seemus to Cordelia but Cuthbert intercepts him. He and Roland come to blows before Roland realizes his error.

 

They plan to blow up the oil tanks and lead the entire village into the thinny and they learn of the Wizard’s pink crystal ball with the witch, buried under her bed.

 

But Jonas catches the boys unawares, and Susan and Seemie, a dull witted but loyal friend of the boys, plan to rescue them, realizing that they may die in the attempt. They get the boys out killing Dave the deputy and the fat Sheriff Avery who were guiding them and then blow up the oil rigs as planned.

 

The boys ambush the party of Jonas and get them all, and unhurt too. But Susan is captured, with Jonas warned by the witch Rhea through the Pink Ball (which is one of the Wizard’s rainbow crystals) as to where she is. Sheemie was out relieving himself but doggedly follows Reynolds and Susan to the Mayor’s house and seems to find help in Olive Thorin, the Mayor’s long suffering wife. But they are captured. While Roland kills Jonas, recovers the ball and destroys all the party by leading them into the thinny, Rhea gets Susan and kills her.

 

When an unconscious Roland is taken back to Gilead, Rhea uses her magic to have Roland kill his own mother. This stuff is better than the previous story of the four people so far.

At the end they revert back to their world where Roland tells the story and there is a piece where he goes back and finishes the ending. All in all, a very good read.

 

7/10

– – Krishna

 

January 25, 2015

Book: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 5:18 pm

imagesMany people have sworn off the Dark Towers series written by Stephen King. For the most part, it is due to the first book in the series The Gunslinger.

Written when Stephen King was just 19, in part inspired by the Lord of the Rings trilogy by his own admission, this book is one of the most boring books written by the author. Stephen King is a phenomenal writer and many of his books have been reviewed here before.  Most of his work is top class but then he has sometimes slipped, and the story does not appeal. Tommyknockers  is a prime example that comes to mind and even though most people may find this close to Stephen-King-blasphemy, I did not enjoy The Stand either. But mostly he writes very well, even when there is not much of a story to tell. (Read the review of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon for a great example).

This book is worse than even some of his worst examples from before. At the end of it, I almost decided, like many people I know, not to bother with the series. But if you, like me, try the second book in the series, you will find that it gets a lot better right away, from the start of the second book itself. (More of this in a later entry).

.This book is about the Gunslinger called Roland, a young man in a futuristic world which has turned Wild West where a man lives and dies by his gun and hunts evil. He goes chasing “the man in black”, guided only by the ashes of the campfires left for him. Instinct guides him. He meets strange people along the way.

This book feels like a voyage written as a story. The man in black comes into a bar and wakes up a dead man.

Weird narration and a very  boring story start.

Roland  stays in the inn because of The Lady, who fancies him. Then he watches a priestess in a church. Pointless so far. Seems disjointed without even a common thread between events. Unusual for Stephen King, really.

He goes and meets a boy Jake, who seems to be alive in modern New York, which nobody knows, and seems to have died in the old New York. Then he overcomes a demon and goes on with Jake. Confusing flashbacks ensue.

He takes Jake along, saves him from a demon lurking in a kind of pentagon in a clearing. Faces the demon alone.  Then meets the man in black briefly. The story wanders too much.

The story is excruciatingly boring. The nineteen year old King is not impressive in this book for sure. His coming of age where he confronts his mentor Cort or Cuthbert is also boring.  They seem to go on an interminable, rotting railway line over a great big chasm and for no reason the boy is lost.

Apparently he had to be sacrificed. OK, whatever. Then the story gets even more bizarre. The man in black casually waits for him, they light a fire together and the evil guy reads the future of gunslinger on tarot cards. Wait, I thought that the gunslinger wanted to kill the man in black on sight? Maybe after a little food and some harmless entertainment with tarot cards? Stephen King goes way off the line here.

Then there is a little blather about universe being large, the scientific discoveries of man landing them into trouble and destroying the world, and a juvenile speculation about this universe being a part of the atom on a blade of grass of some other universe.

All in polite conversation between the man in black and Roland. Also the man in black reads the gunslinger’s future with Tarot cards. This is not the weirdest it gets, it gets worse from here on.

Then Roland discovers that the man in black is his childhood friend Marten who he believed had run away and then discovers that there are layers of evil lords above the man in black. Height of ridiculousness? After voluntarily appearing before the gunslinger (remember the tarot and the stories?) the man in black says “You caught me. I did not think you would, but you did.”

Was this really written by King? (Even a nineteen year old King?).  Even it is lame for crap like ‘you sacrificed the boy and that power pulled me helplessly to you’, though mercifully the author does not say it.

Then the man in black, after all this bonhomie, conveniently dies, all by himself. Oh well, gunslinger slept nonstop for ten years and aged, but well, it is a small price to pay to kill the man in black, right? On to the next adventure, gunslinger! If all your adventures are this easy, you are very lucky!

There are flashes of interest, like when the whole village comes after gunslinger as he tries to leave. But alas, they are few and rare.

Overall, a very boring, puzzling book, and a bad start to a series that is famous.

1/10

  • – Krishna

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