TITLE: THE DARK TOWER V: WOLVES OF THE CALLA
AUTHOR: STEPHEN KING
PUBLISHER: HODDER & STOUGHTON
GENRE: FANTASY FICTION
My copy is a first edition, hardback that includes several colour illustrations.
BLURB FROM THE COVER
Roland Deschain and his ka-tet are bearing southeast through the forests of Mid-World, the almost timeless landscape that seems to stretch from the wreckage of civility that defined Roland’s youth to the crimson chaos that seems the future’s only promise. Readers of Stephen King’s epic series know Roland well, or as well as this enigmatic hero can be known. They also know the companions who have been drawn to his quest for the Dark Tower: Eddie Dean and his wife, Susannah; Jake Chambers, the boy who has come twice through the doorway of death into Roland’s world; and Oy, the Billy-Bumbler.
In this long-awaited fifth novel in the saga, their path takes them to the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis, a tranquil valley community of farmers and ranchers on Mid-World’s borderlands. Beyond the town, the rocky ground rises toward the hulking darkness of Thunderclap, the source of a terrible affliction that is slowly stealing the community’s soul. One of the town’s residents is Pere Callahan, a ruined priest who, like Susannah, Eddie, and Jake, passed through one of the portals that lead both into and out of Roland’s world.
As Father Callahan tells the ka-tet the astonishing story of what happened following his shamed departure from Maine in 1977, his connection to the Dark Tower becomes clear, as does the danger facing a single red rose in a vacant lot off Second Avenue in midtown Manhattan. For Calla Bryn Sturgis, danger gathers in the east like a storm cloud. The Wolves of Thunderclap and their unspeakable depredation are coming. To resist them is to risk all, but these are odds the gunslingers are used to, and they can give the Calla-folken both courage and cunning. Their guns, however, will not be enough.
Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches; River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin and corn for those same long years and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters and busted hopes. Tian wasn’t the first Jaffords determined to make something of the twenty acres behind the home place; his Gran-pere, perfectly sane in most other respects, had been convinced there was gold there. Tian’s Ma had been equally positive it would grow porin, a spice of great worth. Tian’s particular insanity was madrigal. Of course madrigal would grow in Son of a Bitch. Must grow there. He’d gotten hold of a thousand seeds (and a dear penny that had cost him) that were now hidden beneath the floorboards of his bedroom. All that remained before planting next year was to break ground in Son of a Bitch. This chore was easier spoken of than accomplished.
I loved Wolves of the Calla. It’s one of my favourites in The Dark Tower series. The copy I have is a hard back, first edition. The pages are very thick and the paper is very creamy and there are several full-colour illustrations. 616 pages is not very long for a novel. I’ve read twice that length. However, the thick, creamy papers make Wolves of the Calla a huge, doorstop of a novel. I have to read it while leaning the book on a table because it’s so heavy. This was my third read-through of Wolves of the Calla.
In Wolves of the Calla, King really gets into his stride. The other four novels, The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass have been building slowly towards this moment. Wolves of the Calla is the first novel in The Dark Tower series where I really get a sense of the huge, epic scale of this series. I was in awe of the scope of King’s imagination as I read Wolves of the Calla.
I loved the links between King’s novel Salem’s Lot and Wolves of the Calla. One of the key characters in Calla Bryn Sturgis is Pere Callahan, the tainted priest who fled the dying town at the end of Salem’s Lot. Some of my favourite chapters are when Pere Callahan tells Roland and his ka-tet what happened after he fled Maine. This sort-of sequel to Salem’s Lot was fascinating. I also thought it was great when Roland and his ka-tet discover one of Calvin Tower’s novels is Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. Pere Callahan is stunned when he reads his story between the pages. Pure genius.
King gave a good old tug at my heart-strings in Wolves of the Calla when he reveals what happens to the twins who are taken by the wolves and why they come back ‘roont’. Sob! There are links between this and King’s novel, Black House but this is not revealed yet. At first Wolves of the Calla seems more of a side-line novel like Wizard and Glass. It seems Calla Bryn Sturgis is just a distraction to pull Roland and his ka-tet away from their quest for the tower. I was blown away when King reveals just how this little farming community and the wolves are linked to the quest for The Dark Tower.
The characters really develop in Wolves of the Calla. Roland is a fully fleshed out character made of flesh and blood. He has come a long way from the man he was in The Gunslinger who was obsessed with a single-purpose – to catch the man in black. His love for Eddie, Susannah and Jake has changed him. Eddie Dean has also come a long way from the junkie Roland dragged into his world in The Drawing of The Three. I found Jake and Susannah’s story the most touching. Jake makes a friend with one of the Calla children but is forced to realise how different his life is – he is a gunslinger and so his friend with never fully understand his life. Poor Susannah is experiencing some of the symptoms she did when she was Odetta Holmes / Detta Walker because there is an invader in her belly and in her head.
I loved so many things about Wolves of the Calla. I loved Pere Callahan’s story. I loved the trips Roland and his ka-tet made to different versions of New York when Black Thirteen sent them todash. I loved it when Eddie saved Calvin Tower’s life and persuaded him to sell the vacant lot where the rose grows. I loved the big battle at the end between Roland and his ka-tet, the Calla folk and the wolves, which are very similar to the giant cyborg bear the ka-tet kill at the start of The Waste Lands.
The only niggle I have about Wolves of the Calla is that the continuity feels a little off. The other novels started directly after the preceding novel giving you a continuous tale. The gap between the events at the end of Wizard and Glass and the start of Wolves of the Calla felt a lot bigger so I found myself wondering what happened when they left the green palace.
I feel quite sad because I only have two novels left to read; The Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower. Three if you count the spin-off The Wind Through The Keyhole. When I first started to read The Dark Tower series again I thought it would take me a while. I saw thousands of pages across seven novels stretching ahead of me. Now I am almost at the end. Boo-hoo!