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The Waste Lands (2005-03-07 - 6:38 p.m.)

I don't know how long it's been, but I'm trying to get back into this. Lately, I've kind of gotten bored with the whole D'land thing. But maybe if I make a point of trying to make myself come up with something to write every day, that will change.

Today, I finished The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, by Stephen King. This is my second trek through the Dark Tower series. It's being a lot more coherent this time through, because I am pretty much trying to read one after the other (previously, there was as much as a year or more between two volumes, as I was waiting for them to be published). I am trying to read something different in between, just to break the monotony of only reading one author for seven straight books. Surely that's understandable, even if the author is Stephen King.

In volume 3, which is the best so far, Roland and company regain the company of young Jake, pulling him out of his original "when," which is New York city, circa 1970s. It's interesting to note that all three of Roland's companions are from New York, but from three different decades. Susannah/Odetta/Detta is from the 60s era, rife with civil rights struggles. Eddie Dean is from the 80s, and full of drug problems. Jake is from the 70s. I think I have this right, but I'm willing to be corrected if I'm wrong.

The struggle at the beginning of The Waste Lands is that both Roland and Jake are experiencing and almost schizophrenic existence because of what happened/didn't happen earlier. Roland enountered Jake at the Way Station in volume 1. Jake accompanied Roland up to the point at which Roland had to make a decision to let Jake "die" in order to catch up with The Man in Black (no, it's NOT Johnny Cash!). But, in order to be at this Way Station, Jake had already died in his own world, being pushed in front of an oncoming car by the same person who both dropped a brick on young Odetta Holmes' head when she was a child, and pushed Odetta/Detta in front of a subway car later on, resulting in the loss of her legs just above the knees. Odetta's other personality, Detta Walker, came about as a result of the brick.

Anyway...Jake had already died. volume two, The Drawing of the Three, Roland goes through one of his doors and inhabits the person who did the pushing and keeps him from pushing Jake in front of the car, thereby causing Jake NOT to die in that "when." This causes great struggles in both of their psyches, because at some point, they both have remembrances of things that happened/didn't happen. Roland had memories of Jake at the Way Station, yet he had memories of the Way Station without Jake. Jake, on the other hand knew what was about to happen the day he should have died, and was expecting to die. When his death didn't happen, things started getting really weird up to the point where he actually runs across a young Eddie Dean and follows him to the house where he is eventually pulled through another "door" by Eddie Dean to join the "ka-tet" with Roland, Eddie, and Susannah.

Confusing, eh? Duh.

Anyway, further on in this story, they get to the city of Lud, which is inhabited by two groups of people who are constantly fighting each other, the Grays and the Pubes. Jake gets kidnapped and Roland has to save him, while Susannah and Eddie have to find Blaine the Monorail. Blaine the Pain.

Blaine likes riddles. Blaine LOVES riddles. When the four of them are back together at Blaine's "cradle," Blaine sets off a reaction that will eventually gas the entire city of Lud, killing everyone there. He has posed a riddle to the ka-tet, and they have, like, 10 or 12 minutes to solve it, or they, too, will die. They finally succeed in figuring out the answer to the riddle, while giving us a really cool "formula" for finding prime numbers.

Once on the monorail, they realize that Blaine intends to commit suicide at the other end, taking them with them (he travels in excess of 800 mph, breaking the sound barrier). Roland challenges Blaine to a "dual," with the condition that if they can stump Blaine with a riddle, he will spare them. If they can't stump him, they will die as he crashes full speed into the terminal in Topeka.

That's where our story ends. If I'm not mistaken (and I frequently am), this is the only volume that ends in such a cliffhanger. Of course, I know what happens because I've already read it.

Obviously, I've left a lot out of this synopsis of a 590 page paperback book. But what a story it is. In my opinion, King has written an epic that will be discovered by more and more people as time goes by (depending, of course, on how much more time we have). I truly believe that The Dark Tower series will be considered a literary masterpiece someday, perhaps alongside the likes of Dickens, Poe, and others.

Long days and pleasant nights. Say thank ya to God.

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