Number 22 in my 1001 list is my favourite book in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King; Wizard And Glass. You may well have read my other posts on this series and wondered why I had not entered any of the books or the whole series in my list earlier but the truth is that out of all seven volumes that make up this epic tale, Wizard And Glass is easily and by far the best and the only one of the novels that I feel is truly worthy of being included!
It carries on directly from events in book (3) The Wastelands with Roland and his Ka-Tet facing imminent death at the hands of Blaine The Mono as he hurtles across the country on a kamikaze suicide final run. Only by beating the computerised train at riddling can the Ka-Tet hope to survive and as their vast knowledge of riddles begins to run dry, so too does their time begin to run out!
Of course, it will come to no surprise to learn that Roland and his posse do indeed beat Blaine at his own game, otherwise the series would no doubt all end here! But their eventual destination is as about as far from Mid-World as you can possibly get...though where they have ended up is a world that will seem eerily familiar to fans of King's work!
Settling down for the night in this strange new land, Roland and his Ka-Tet sit down to have a palaver. And it is then that Roland reveals a story of his past that tells of how he first set out on his quest for The Dark Tower and what befell him when he first became a Gunslinger; the last of his kind!
This flashback story takes up the majority of the book and is a welcome return to the essence that made The Gunslinger such a joy to read. "Is (Roland's) story a Western?" Boy Jake asks. "All Roland's stories are Westerns," replies Eddie and though this is not strictly true, it is true that the moments when this series is at its best owe much to sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns!
Everything about this book makes it my favourite of the series from the images of Roland and his buddies sitting around a camp-fire telling stories to Roland's anecdote of his first love and the tragedy that ensued when he and his former friends found themselves way out of their depth in a back-waters town crucial to the fight against harrier, John Farson! The story that is gradually revealed here finally gives a human face to Roland The Gunslinger and reveals exactly why he is now the way he is. It also goes some ways to explaining his obsession with The Dark Tower and offers a suggestion why he might want to reach it so bad!
At its heart, Wizard And Glass is yet another love story. And yet, all around it are a series of events that have dreadful consequences for Roland and his home of Mid-World! Words cannot describe how much I love this entry in the series and it is even one of the finest books that King has EVER written, not just a part of The Dark Tower series that encompasses all of his work and is connected in some way to all he has written!