This is an ongoing series looking at works that have influenced one fantasy author.
The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
by Stephen King
Stephen King has for decades now been dubbed the master of modern horror fiction, and there’s no arguing his success. King is probably the best-known writer in the world, with the possible exception of J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. But King has written more than horror, often leaning toward fantasy and mixing horror and fantasy elements.
His Dark Tower series is his best-known fantasy work, being seven novels collecting the quest of Gunslinger Roland Deschain to find the Dark Tower. The term “gunslinger” might throw some fantasy purists, but a gunslinger in this tale is a type of knight of old who also happens to carry ancient revolvers.
On Roland’s journey, he draws several companions to him, and he comes up against all kinds of nasty villains from werewolves to robots and talking trains and just about anything one’s mind could imagine in a world of nightmares. Roland’s quest doesn’t take place in one single world, but crosses over into the real world and into other planes of existence multiple times; even when Roland and his companion’s enter what we as readers would consider the real world, that “real world” often isn’t quite the one we know.
The Dark Tower is an epic tale that stretches across space and time and eventually concludes with an ending that has long confounded readers. Some love it, some hate it, but rarely does a reader leave this series without a strong feeling about it.
Of the seven books in the series, the fourth, Wizard and Glass, has always been my favorite. But again, it’s one of those books that readers either seem to love or hate.
I love it, obviously.
Wizard and Glass is a story within a story. It’s a break from the main plot of Roland’s quest. In this novel, Roland sits down with his traveling band and tells them a story of his past, of old friends in battle and a woman he loved and lost.
To my mind, it is the most heart-wrenching tale I’ve ever read. I think I actually shed a few tears at the end of the tale, the only time a book has ever done that to me.
I won’t give away further details, and will let others decide for themselves. But this book touched me.
And it showed me the power of words. Because no other novel has ever quite affected me so.
Up next: Spaceling, by Doris Piserchia