Book 614: Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower #5) – Stephen King

In general, I am LOATHE to enjoy a book as slow as this, let alone a 7(+) book series, but this one is good, really good.

I think the biggest issue I have with this book is how quickly it ended. Some of this is of course due to the Amazon Kindle flaw of telling you have 8-10% left in the book when really you have 1-2% and the other 8-9% of those pages are bonus content. But, the rest of it has to do with this having the first true cliffhanger in the series. [This might not be true as I can’t really remember the endings of the others, just they all blend together.]

I’m really starting to understand why those who love this series REALLY love this series. It’s an amazingly intricate and well written story. In almost any other book and/or series an entire book that seems to wander off on a separate story line (and this isn’t the first) would drive me nuts. However, King’s writing and gentle reminder that all of this is “ka” and eventually will get us to the resolution of the story works perfectly.

I felt there was more humor in this book, from this critique of Christianity,

“‘Your Man Jesus seems to me a bit of a son of a bitch when it comes to women,’ Roland said. ‘Was He ever married?’ The corners of Callahan’s mouth quirked. ‘No,’ he said, ‘but His girlfriend was a whore.’ ‘Well,’ Roland said, ‘that’s a start.'” (521)

To the incredible meta references of King’s other works tying many of them together into this alternate universe/story line. I actually feel like I might need to read and/or watch Salem’s Lot now, but I may know too much?

I continue to like the character building of the ka-tet of Jake, Susannah, Eddie, Roland, and Oy, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the minor characters other characters we met throughout this story. I don’t clearly see where the characters are going, especially with Susannah’s changes during this book and the title of the next one, Song of Susannah.

I’m a little disappointed we didn’t find out WHY things were happening, but I’m still hoping there might be more in the next novel with how abruptly it seemed to end and how all of the stories tie together into a much longer story. I know the world has fallen, but I definitely want to know more about these robo-beasts and the technology. It’s also making me want to make a real effort into reading the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. They’re not quite the same, but they ring similar to me in the post-apocalyptic(?) worlds they’re set.

Recommendation: This is absolutely worth the read. It wasn’t as slow as Wizard and Glass, which was great. Each book, no matter the time between my reading (I read Wizard and Glass almost a year ago) stays fresh and comes back very quickly when I start the next in the series. I’m ready for Song of Susannah, but will give it some time before I dive right in.

Here are my other reviews so far in the series:

Opening Line: “Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long years and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes.”

Closing Line: “And then he said again, all the affirmation necessary in this dark place. ‘Yes.'” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)

Additional Quotes from Wolves of the Calla
“‘The Eld! The Eld!’ the Manni whispered, and several raised fists into the air with the first and fourth fingers pointed. Hook em horns, the Old Fella thought. Go, Texas. He managed to stifle a laugh, but not the smile that rose on his lips.” (33)

“No one ever does live happily ever after, but we leave the children to find that out for themselves, don’t we?” (42)

“‘If,’ Roland said. ‘An old teacher of mine used to call it the only word a thousand letters long.'” (117)

“We spread the time as we can, but in the end the world takes it all back.” (264)

“Eloquence does not always proceed from belief, but often proceeds from the bottle.” (274)

“‘…although I never heard the term until the spring of 1983, when I was working at the Lighthouse Shelter in Detroit and my time in America had grown short. Of course we’d known for almost ten years that there was something. Some of the literature called it GRID—Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. In 1982 there started to be newspaper articles about a new disease called ‘Gay Cancer,’ and speculations that it might be catching. On the street some of the men called it Fucksore Disease, after the blemishes it left. I don’t believe that vampires die of it, or even get sick from it. But they can have it. And they can pass it on. Oh, yes. And I have reason to think that.'” Callahan’s lips quivered, then firmed.” (291)

“It’s a wholly illogical but nonetheless powerful belief that things will change for the better in a new place; that the urge to self-destruct will magically disappear.” (311)

“The goodbyes we speak and the goodbyes we hear are the goodbyes that tell us we’re still alive, after all.” (316)

“He finds a job easily; jobs are everywhere, it seems, lying around like apples after a windstorm has gone through the orchard. As long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, that is, or scalded by hot water or sometimes blistered by the handle of an ax or a shovel; in his years on the road no one has ever offered him a stockbroker’s job.” (330)

“Wandering’s the most addictive drug there is, I think, and every hidden road leads on to a dozen more.” (333)

“If being a grown-up gave you some sort of special knowledge of the right things to do, how come his mother was sleeping with her masseuse, who had huge biceps and no brains? Why had neither of them noticed, as the spring of 1977 marched toward summer, that their kid (who had a nickname—’Bama—known only to the housekeeper) was losing his fucking mind?” *(411)

“When one knows and one does not, the one who does not must bow his head and the one who does must take responsibility.” (424)

“A man who can’t stay a bit shouldn’t approach in the first place. Good advice, I think, and not just for priests.” (513)

“The joy is in the discovery, Mr. Dean. Any collector will tell you the same. Stamps, coins, or books, the joy is in the discovery.” (573)

“If a customer spends eight thousand dollars for a signed first edition of Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, it makes perfect sense to put that book away in a safe place where it can be admired but not touched. If the fellow actually wants to read the story, let him buy a Vintage paperback.” (574)

“Well . . . yes. Books can be objects of great value. That value is created in different ways. Sometimes just the author’s signature is enough to do it. Sometimes—as in this case—it’s a misprint. Sometimes it’s a first print-run—a first edition—that’s extremely small.” (575)

“If someone had been taking wagers on it, Jake would have bet on something. He had great faith in Oy. Or maybe it was love. Or maybe those things were the same.” (596)


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