Book Review: Stephen King – Wolves of the Calla (DT V)
After the first four parts, the series would have dropped in level, is the criticism of the last three parts of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. In the fifth part, “Wolves of the Calla” (Dutch: “Wolven van de Calla”), there is little or nothing to notice about that decay.
- Publisher USA: Grant
- Publisher the Netherlands: Luitingh-Sijthoff
- ISBN: 978-1880418567
- Pages: 714
For a long time it was even unclear whether the fifth volume would be in the shops at all. King’s serious car accident in 1999 was so difficult that King even thought about his retirement. Fortunately he started writing again (with difficulty) and six years after the publication of the fourth volume, the fifth volume was released in 2003.
But not only King was delayed. In the fifth movement, the ka-tet has the same problem. They approach the Dark Tower, but first pass Calla Bryn Sturgis, where the inhabitants live in harmony with each other. For the snipers there does not seem to be any reason to linger long in the Calla, but nothing could be further from the truth. Once every generation, a number of ruthless thieves come and steal every parent’s most precious possession: the child. The snipers listen to the story and to their surprise, Roland decides that they want to prevent this ritual. Of course there is more to it than that, but you will gradually discover the story itself.
The magical atmosphere from the first four books has certainly not disappeared. The Calla is again aptly described and easy to visualize for the reader. The idea of parallel universes is picked up again and in this book a number of new characters are added, one of which is very well known. The impressive past of the old acquaintance, which was not explained in a particular book, is now fully revealed. As is often the case, King takes another side road during the construction of the plot, but again that side road is worth the effort. It contributes well to the atmosphere in the story and makes the whole a lot more human and compelling. The sharp and above all humorous dialogues (thanks to Eddie) once again demonstrate King’s versatility. Incidentally, our own country also plays a minor role in the story!
Actually, the story revolves around one simple question: is the ka-tet going to break the ritual of the thieves or not? We have to wait a long time for that question, because King takes several side roads (also in ‘our’ world), which creates all kinds of subplots. There are a number of new discoveries to be found and again I am very pleased with them. So the story is well put together again: wonderful atmosphere, good characters, exciting plot, but now the end …
The run-up to the end is without a doubt one of the strongest excitement builders I have ever seen or read. The minutes ticking away before the snipers can execute their ambush are truly thrilling. I was completely sucked into the story and it was simply impossible to stop reading. Of course, it never became completely clear during the story who or what the bad guys were and I hoped King would come up with something plausible, but that was not possible. After a strong run-up, a slight anti-climax followed; a condition that King suffers from just a little too often. It is a pity, but the big picture should of course not be lost sight of. That line follows the road towards the Dark Tower and in this fifth book the ka-tet may not make great strides, but from a human point of view it has been very successful. The ka-tet is faced with dilemmas both individually and collectively and all relationships are on edge, making the journey to the Tower once again a journey full of uncertainties.
In my view, this fifth part is in no way inferior to the first and second part in the series. Parts three and four are a bit better, but Wolves of the Calla is very special in its own way. There are slightly less (emotional) highlights than in the first four parts, but the characters keep growing, King’s new finds keep adding something and it is especially exciting towards the end. In short: no reason to stop with this wonderful series after book four!