“Full of grotesque characters, a well established world, and an insatiable urge to find out just what is at the end of the path towards the Dark Tower. The best instalment yet.”

Title: The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower III)
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 584
ISBN: 978-0-340-83225-7

After struggling through the second novel in the series (The Drawing of the Three) this book had a lot resting on its shoulders, namely if I was going to try and continue with this epic series. Unlike book two I was enraptured with every page of this particular stop along the path towards the Dark Tower, so much so that it renewed my ebbing faith in the series.

One of the main things I love about this book was what I critiqued in the previous one, The Waste Lands spends a nice time building on the world within which The Dark Tower resides. Unfortunately, like its predecessor, it does spend a short while within the ‘real’ world, something that constantly brings me out of the flow and slows down not only my enjoyment but the time it takes to get through the book; however it is a necessary step towards building the rest of the plot from that point on. So, despite my dislike, it can be quickly forgiven (and forgotten) by the time all of the needed characters arrive into the created world.
And what a world! The Waste Lands takes a much deeper dive into the lore of King’s Dark Tower universe, finally hinting at the past troubles of the world whilst setting up plot points for later instalments.
By having some of his characters hail from the ‘real’ world we get to witness this creation through their fresh eyes, and not the jaded eyes of the Gunslinger; we get to feel their excitement and confusion when things from our world start to bleed through into this alternate place. By this point in the series we (the reader as well as the characters) have little idea about how this world works, or even an explanation about it, so when something familiar does appear it only made me want to push on quicker, delve deeper into the book to see if I could find out exactly what is going on.

Despite being a part of his fantasy epic King does not miss out on his chance to bring the horror into the Dark Tower Universe. I have probably said this before but King is a master at making grotesque characters, and this instalment of the series is full of them. Whether its a person seeping infected puss, or a intelligent train driven mad across the millennia, King’s creations can’t help but cause an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach.

After a bumpy but needed second outing, the Dark Tower’s third book, The Waste Lands, is a glorious return to the world hinted at within the first instalment. Full of grotesque characters, a well established world, and an urge that matches that of the main character to find out just what is at the end of the path towards the Dark Tower.

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