First published back in September of 2004, ‘The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower’ formed the seventh and last instalment into US bestselling author Stephen King’s epic ‘Dark Tower’ series. The novel continues directly on from where the sixth instalment ‘The Dark Tower VI: Song Of Susannah’ (2004) left off. A later addition to the ‘Dark Tower’ mythos entitled ‘The Dark Tower: The Wind Through The Keyhole’ (2012) was published, which although not a direct follow on from ‘The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower’, does fit within the chronology of the series between ‘The Dark Tower IV: Wizard And Glass’ (1997) and ‘The Dark Tower V: Wolves Of The Calla’ (2003).
Back in the Dixie Pig Restaurant, Jake Chambers and Father Callahan are in the hectic throes of battle with the bloodthirsty hordes Low-Men and Type-One vampires. The entire vampire lounge is a blur of violence and bloodshed. And it’s here that Callahan finds he must lay down his life to save his young gunslinger companion.
Meanwhile, back in the plague ravaged town of Fedic, Mia has given birth to her long-awaited child Mordred who is prophesised to be the doom of his father Roland. And as he emerges into this world, the powerful demon child’s first actions after his birth are to change into a giant spider and consume his mother – Mia. Now no longer sharing the same body as Mia, Susannah Dean attempts to kill the giant beast that is Mordred, and then using all of her gunslinger abilities, she manages to narrowly escape from the Crimson King’s henchmen with her life.
Back in Maine, Roland and Eddie make their way back to Roland’s world where they are reunited with the rest of the ka-tet in Fedic. From here the gunslingers travel on to Thunderclap then on to Devar-Toi where they learn of a group of psychics known as Breakers who are being forced into telepathically destroying the great beams that hold together Mid-World and the Dark Tower. Roland’s gunslingers are once again thrust into the thick of a battle that if it fails will permanently alter the future of the Dark Tower.
Meanwhile, Mordred is stalking Roland and his ka-tet. His instinctive hatred for the great gunslinger urging him onwards to finally kill his father. But the powerful sorcerer Walter has his own plans for reaching the Dark Tower and gaining access to its inner secrets. Plans that will mean the end of Mordred if he is to succeed.
However, back in Maine and the man who is writing about their lives and the future of the Dark Tower is himself in jeopardy. The ka-tet’s fight is far from over, and those remaining must once again travel to Maine to prevent the death of King.
Everything is converging at once. The days are filled with frenzied fighting, bitter loss and constant travelling. The very centre of Mid-World is drawing closer and closer. The Dark Tower awaits. Fate is playing its hand around every corner. And life has become more fragile than a dying roses petal in the wind. And it all ends here...
With the epic quest finally drawing to an end, King pulls out all the stops to ensure that this final instalment is as dramatic and absolutely bursting with excitement as they come. From the outset the novel hits the ground running, with the reader immediately thrust into the thick of an all-out battle that hits home the impactful finality of this last novel with the early death of Father Callahan.
From here on its dramatic twists and turns all the way, with every aspect of the tale now ramped up a hefty handful of notches to deliver the full drama of this run up to the final ending. The storyline is very much interlinked with the previous instalment ‘The Dark Tower VI: Song Of Susannah’ (2004) insofar as the threads and complex turns in the previous book are now escalated, magnified and brought together in a spectacular race to the objective of the whole series – The Dark Tower.
There’s (quite understandably) a hell of a lot going on in this final instalment. The action is rich and immediate throughout. The storyline appears to jump from one dramatic event to the next, with barely a breather in between. However, with the sudden injection of new independent plotlines and brand new characters who suddenly have a dramatic impact upon the course of the plot, many aspects in the tale begin to feel quite contrived for (dare I say) an easy(ish) solution to what is unfolding.
But much can be forgiven in the book due to the sheer momentum and excitement that just keeps on pushing the tale forwards. King clearly knows that he has to keep up with a constantly sprinting pace here if he is to succeed in delivering the impactful and intense finale that is most certainly required. And so, the drama-heavy storyline just keeps on racing onwards, with each step towards the ultimate goal of the Dark Tower now a snowballing build-up in excitement.
Surprisingly or unsurprisingly (depending on your general familiarity with King’s other work) a good proportion of the principal characters are dispatched at various points during the book (I won’t spoil it by saying who and indeed how many). The impact and drama that King offers for each more often than not feels somewhat disproportionate to their contribution to the saga as a whole. Yes they are each given an emotional send off, but the actual level of drama given to each seems just a little too half-hearted.
As the novel eventually draws towards those final moments, King injects an almost dreamlike quality into the storytelling – with the final few pages of the book almost surreal in their overbearingly significant symbolism and utterly magnified importance. And it’s exactly here that the book has split its readers. Vast swathes of previously enthralled followers of the series have come away utterly disheartened and disappointed at this final conclusion. They feel robbed of a more spectacular ending. In fact, many say they feel robbed of an ending full stop. But is it really such a let-down? Well, it’s (as with most things in life) one that is purely down to the individual person. Personally, I felt it was perfectly in keeping with the importance and ambience of the whole epic series. It’s certainly not engulfed in fireworks, but instead plays out a more understated and quietly all-incorporating conclusion. Quite frankly, I was more than happy with how King ended the whole journey. I’m certainly not alone in such an opinion, but not necessarily on the side of the majority here.
As a final note I would never discourage anyone from beginning on the ‘Dark Tower’ series. Whatever disappointment some may feel with the ending cannot possibly outweigh the sheer enjoyment that can be obtained from the preceding books. Whether your invested time in the books feels like a let-down at the final post or not, still does not detract from what has otherwise been a truly incredible journey. I may be slightly biased here as I thoroughly enjoyed the way the series ended, but I cannot get on board with those that think it therefore destroys the entire magnificent story that preceded it.
The book runs for a total of 845 pages.
© DLS Reviews