Stephen King is a wonderful writer. No doubt of that. He’s sold millions of novels over his long writing career. My personal favorite has been “The Dark Tower” series. I’ve spend many a good hour with Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last “Gunslinger” as he journeyed across his post apocalyptic World in search of the elusive Dark Tower and the final confrontation with the his nemesis the “Crimson King”
After this conflict, I thought that Roland would put his guns down forever and ride off into the sunset of literary fame, with Stephen King resting on the laurels of this huge and practically life long writing achievement. Then I heard about “The Wind Through the Keyhole”
As it turns out, this 8th book in the Dark Tower series is actual “sequentially” book IV.V since it takes place after Roland’s tet escapes the Green Palace at the end of Wizard and Glass, and before they reach Calla Bryn Sturgis, setting for Wolves of the Calla.
Using this technique of “pre-quelling” or back writing as I like to call it, King fills in some more of Roland’s childhood through another unique bit of writing…telling a story within a story…within ANOTHER story. And a delightful and delicious piece of writing!
Roland is stuck in a small town with his “Tet” of people during a “Starkblast” a huge and supremely dangerous ice storm which can freeze and kill anything in it’s path. It’s during this storm that King’s writing creativity kicks in and he unfolds his trifecta of stories in one book.
Roland begins to the story of how he and one his friends “Jamie” were sent on a mission by Roland’s Father to chase down and take care of a shape changer who is killing people in a very awful manner. Roland is a teenager during this time, and an “untested” gunslinger…but, a gunslinger nonetheless, as the story will convey. It’s during this telling of his early adventure that the young Roland tells HIS story of the “Wind Through the Keyhole” a fable which was tenderly told to him as a child by his Mother. (who by the way, Roland later killed)
The fable turns to an earlier time in the history of Mid-World and a different hero, young Tim who loses his Father..to a dragon? OR does he really?
I don’t want spoil anymore of the story for you, because this is one Stephen King book you will want to read. For one, this is not your typical Herculean length novel by King, but just a prequel “novella” Thus, it will not take you forever to read it. Secondly, if you are a fan of the Dark Tower series you cannot help but enjoy this bit of Roland’s earlier history, which helps to fill in our knowledge of what made him the way he is. Last but not least, and perhaps more importantly, even if you have NEVER read the Dark Tower series, you will enjoy reading this book as a stand alone! That’s right, I believe you will be able to enjoy the story even without having read the entire Dark Tower series. Just the “Wind Through the Keyhole” fable will entertain you. You might be a bit puzzled by the language, but not so much that you cannot understand what’s going on in the story and enjoy the depth of Stephen King’s writing, especially in this fantasy laced and layered book. I think this is one that is essential for all fans of the Dark Tower, but very enjoyable even if you have never heard of Roland Deschain. And if I am wrong…..I cry your pardon, Pilgrim!