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The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, Book 3) by…

The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, Book 3) (original 1991; edition 2003)

by Stephen King

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9,759126296 (4.08)2 / 96
Title:The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, Book 3)
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (2003), Mass Market Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fantasy, sci-fi

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The Waste Lands by Stephen King (1991)

Recently added bypbirch01, Girbach, private library, Al_Marote, mikea2213, Thalaba, JCBraswell, Jon_Hansen

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I'll be honest, I'm not tearing through this series the way I thought I would be. However, The Wastelands is, regardless, a great installment in The Dark Tower series. The setting is a bit creepier than the earlier installments and slowly we begin to learn more about the universe we are immersed in.

I would certainly recommend this book, but ONLY if you have read the earlier books in the series. I would have a rough time jumping in without some serious context! ( )
  SnowcatCradle | Sep 24, 2016 |
This third book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series continues to entertain. Of course, it is fantasy and horror, and doesn't scare me as some of King's more realistic horrors can, but it keeps me engaged. And this is after I really didn't love that first book but was encouraged to read the second anyway.

There were animals that weren't animals in this story, and I felt sorry for them, no matter who they were trying to kill.

Instead of just the gunslinger, there is now a cast of characters that I care about. For engaging entertainment and flights of fancy, this book fits the bill well.

I listened to an unabridged audio version of this book, borrowed from my local library. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Sep 19, 2016 |
The Dark Tower volume 3. ( )
  jrthebutler | Aug 31, 2016 |
More Dark Tower? Well, why not. I've got lots of other wonderful books on deck to take me into autumn and beyond, as well as lots of writing projects, but wondering what was going to happen next in this series (or, more accurately, still looking for what it is that has inspired such passionate devotion among so many of my friends) kept nagging at me. There are two ways to deal with something like this: bring all your force of will and energy to bear on shutting up the nagging, or just go with the flow and give in.

I gave in. I just wanted to know what this weird trio King has ginned up, a half-deranged gunslinger who has been tricked into tipping himself a little further towards all-deranged, an ex-junkie who is maybe poised to become a Big Damn Hero, and a crippled former schizophrenic who has decided to call herself the BDH's wife (and is herself possessed of plenty of BDH qualities), were going to do now that they're a team.

Well, first of all, they're going to travel some more. Big surprise. I can sort of picture Randall doing an impersonation of this trio similar to his impression of the plot of the Lord of the Rings in Clerks 2.* And tell me he isn't right? A lot of both Lord of the Rings and this series so far has been walking. Dark Tower less so, though. Walking and shooting and taking over people's bodies by means of weird stand-alone hoodoo doors in the sand, let's say. But mostly walking.

But on their travels, ah, on their travels, such wonders do they encounter. Like Shardik, a seventy foot tall robot bear with a satellite dish sticking out of his head, who sneezes parasites and sets ex-junkie Eddie to wondering why the hell he's suddenly thinking of talking rabbits (the answer is, of course, Richard Adams). Two-headed bison grazing on the outskirts of an ailing town. Billy bumblers, which are sort of like badgers and sort of like mockingbirds and sort of like dachsunds. Melanin-deprived white bees bumbling around and building a deformed hive in a tree. And those are just the strange animals.

As an interlude, we also get to spend some time with Jake, an 11-year-old boy in the "real" world, specifically New York City in 1977, who is going mad for pretty much the same reason gunslinger Roland is. They met in the first novel, Jake and Roland, in unforgettable and haunting circumstances. Then in the second novel, Roland was tricked into preventing their meeting from ever happening; time travel is tricky that way. But now both are tormented by dual consciousnesses, sure on the one hand that they met and parted tragically, equally sure on the other that their story together never happened. Roland both has and does not have Jake on his conscience; Jake is Schroedinger's Kid.

And once the full team is at last gathered (I wonder how many times I'll say that through these seven or either novels? Because oh yes, one of the billy bumblers, rejoicing in the name of Oy, becomes a member of the party, too), which takes half the book, things stall out for a little while but then get going as the ka-tet** discovers the Beam, basically a ley line that will lead them straight to the Dark Tower if they keep on following it, and find themselves faced with one whopper of an obstacle: a giant city, which Roland calls Lud, that may or may not be deserted. The sound of drums rumbling in a specific rock'n'roll backbeat rhythm every night strongly suggests that it is not deserted, as do the rumors of war helpfully imparted by a village of very old people. And how can I not think of Ballard's High Rise here, with its characters' descent into madness and violence enacted almost exclusively at night? Ho ho!

But from there it all kind of devolves into a bog-standard post-apocalyptic obstacle course through the ruined city, dodging a murderous band here, discovering the "real world" history behind a "Roland world" ritual there, with a sideline in rescuing. I won't lie: I yawned a bit. But that might just be because I stayed up too late reading. Again. Because, fortunately, as the rescue plot spun out, so did a puzzle plot, one that felt straight out of a Benoit Sokal game. And I love Benoit Sokal games, you guys. Love.

Only, you know, instead of finding a way to drive off the birds and solve all the other puzzles in order to get the train going like Kate in Syberia, Eddie and Susannah have to feed riddles to their malevolent pink train to keep it from electrocuting them to death.

Bonus points to King for mathiness there, by the way.

As always, though, it's Roland who makes the novel. A lot of the time, when I read Stephen King, my mind drifts off into a sort of speculation along the lines of how much it would suck to be a King character, goaded along mercilessly to serve the demands of the plot, haunted even in sleep by the remorseless and unavoidable promptings of his or her god, who is, of course, King himself. I am always at least half-conscious of the strings attached, can look above the stage and watch King yanking at them gleefully. It's all part of the fun of reading him, of course, watching him yank and twist and wiggle at the manipulator. But sometimes, one wonders what it would be like if his characters just got to be themselves, do what they would do, instead of always having to jump to respond to constant prophecies and visions, compulsions they "just have" and things they "just know."***

But then there's Roland, a most un-King-like figure, so tough and sere and scary I sometimes think that King himself is intimidated by him. Oh sure, he suffers and has suffered, but he suffers with gritted teeth, not giving an inch, not giving a flinch, ready to spit in King's eye, even when he has to give up his famous guns. He is, in other words, the only character I have encountered in these or any of King's books who seems capable of greeting King's dawn with a breath of fire and a raised middle finger. Of course, it would have to be on his left hand, since King took away his right middle finger, index finger, and thumb, right? Begging the question.

I must confess to a certain sort of psychic disconnect about him, though, because I keep expecting him to be the Roland of the Chanson rather than Shakespeare/Browning's Childe Roland, but that's my own problem. Stupid liberal arts education.

But so anyway, because I love Roland and the discomfiture he seems to elicit from his creator, and I love Eddie and Susannah and their weird romance and budding badassery, and sometimes even love Jake and Oy (I keep picturing the wee Jack Gleason that made his film debut in Batman Begins, and now graces us with his teenaged asshattery in Game of Thrones, as Jake), I am onboard for the next book wholeheartedly -- especially since it seems to offer the promise of lots of Roland backstory, which I do so long for.

I hope he's not plagued with too many burning bushes, though.

*But of course, Peter Jackson is unlikely to be tapped for the honor of adapting these books, if such a project ever actually comes to fruition, so it is equally unlikely that Randall will ever have cause to mock The Dark Tower. Somewhere, right now, EssJay is foaming at the mouth and screaming and cursing me like Gollum cursing Baggins at the very thought.

**Roland's word for his team; ka being more or less his version of karma, with an extra helping of necessity/destiny (because King seems unable to trust his characters to go where he wants them to go, do what he wants them to do, without such helpful little prompts), ka-tet invoking notions of a quartet as well as the Vonnegut-ian karass.

***Which is not to say at all that King writes unbelievable or one-dimensional or cardboard characters, because he totally does not. That's the thing. He creates these fully-fleshed out human beings out of his mind, something he has an honest-to-Bob gift for, but then, like a bad Greek god he keeps sending them messages in dreams and other unsubtle nudge-shoves. Augh! ( )
  KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |

'The Wastelands' is the winner as the best among the first three. The ka-tet is fully unified and have started their journey, this time including Jake and newcomer Oy the Billy-Bumbler, who you can’t help but get tickled by. There’s lost technology, action, the ka-tet getting to know each other, and a wacky, fun ending with a psychotic train they’re forced to ride but that never plans to let them survive.

It’s a book you have to keep attention on, else you’ll get lost and confused fast. The worlds collide without the doors. Wastelands is filled with not just fantasy, but mystery and much anticipation on what is later to come. The broken, scattered technology intrigues while the lines that connect the worlds introduces science fiction type elements into the story. The worlds all being parallel to each other is a nice touch.

Jake is essential – more of Roland’s human side is brought out by the boy. The gunslinger shows many faces in Wastelands, not just the straight edged one we've seen before. Seeing snippets of Jake’s former life was interesting and he’s definitely one of my favorite characters. The tick-tock man mesmerizes, for King knows how to write expert villains; that’s always been one of his biggest strengths. Blaine is a train with personality who runs the city from beneath, holds zero regard for life, and loves deadly riddles with their tricky twisters.

King obviously had lots of fun with this one. Incredibly detailed with imagination painting the journey’s road, this is an action-adventure, fantastical, sci-fi, and mystery rich book. Most of King’s books would improve with a trimming, but this one is the right length, for there’s plenty to convincingly fill the pages. I pity those who read this one when first published – the wait after its cliffhanger would have bugged me.
( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dameron, NedIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Körber, JoachimÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water. Only

There is shadow under this red rock,

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),

And I will show you something different from either

Your shadow in the morning striding behind you

Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

-- T.S. Eliot

"The Waste Land"
If there pushed any ragged thistle-stalk

Above its mates, the head was chopped; the bents

Were jealous else. What made those holes and rents

In the dock's hearth swarth leaves, bruised as to balk

All hop of greenness? 'tis a brute must walk

Pashing their life out, with a brute's intents.

-- Robert Browning

"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came"
"What river is it?" enquired Millicent idly.

"It's only a stream. Well, perhaps a little more than that. It's called the Waste."

"Is it really?"

"Yes," said Winifred, "it is."

-- Robert Aickman

"Hand in Glove"
This third volume of the tale is gratefully dedicated to my son, OWEN PHILIP KING:

Khef, ka, and ka-tet.
First words
It was her third time with live ammunition. . .and her first time on the draw from the holster Roland had rigged for her.
The house was alive. He knew this, could feel its awareness reaching out from the boards and the slumping roof, could feel it pouring in rivers from the black sockets of its windows. The idea of approaching that terrible place filled him with dismay; the idea of actually going inside filled him with inarticulate horror.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Choo Choo Engine, stood
before Roland the Brave
asking mean riddles.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451210867, Mass Market Paperback)

Roland, The Last Gunslinger, moves ever closer to The Dark Tower of his dreams-and nightmares-as he crosses a desert of damnation in a macabre world that is a twisted image of our own...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:38 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The third book of King's macabre Dark Tower saga finds Roland, the Last Gunslinger, moving ever closer to the Dark Tower of his dreams--and nightmares--as he crosses a desert of damnation.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

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