When Stephen King started to write the Dark Tower series with The Gunslinger, way back in the mists of time, he said that it was reading Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings that inspired him to do it. King wanted to write a fantasy epic that would be as vast as the LotR universe. Hopefully, in years to come, if anyone ever reads my own work, it would be The Dark Tower series that I would quoet as inspiring me to write my own epic work of Speculative Fiction. That’s not to say that I dont love LotR too. I do. But there’s something about Roland Deschain and his Ka-tet that just resonates with me on every level imaginable. From that first famous line (which I quote verbatim when asked for an example of brilliant and simple writing) to the very last moments in Roland’s company, I can think of no other series that has rocked my imaginative world in quite the same way.
With that in mind, when I finally reached the Tower (because that’s how King makes you feel, like you’ve made the journey yourself) in book 7, I was utterly satisfied, utterly bewildered and felt utterly lost. Nothing I have read since has ever come close to being as EPIC as that series. But there’s a little saviour in the form of The Wind Through the Keyhole. Thank the Man Jesus, say thank ya.
As you may already know, this volume slots into the Dark Tower series between books four and five, filling in some blanks which I never knew were there in both the chronology of the story and history of Midworld (and Outworld, and all that lay outside and between). As a stand alone book, it might not shake you to your very foundation, but if you’re already a fan of the series (and if not, WHY not?) it’s like eating the best steak of your life (or asparagus stick, for you veggies) and, just as you finish, finding another tasty morsel hidden under the lettuce leaf on the side of your plate.
Suffice to say, the Wind Through the Keyhole makes for some tasty reading (extended the metaphor too far?). I dont want to talk about the plot in case of spoilers, but lets just say that its a brilliant way to insert an extra volume without shaking the foundations of everything that comes afterward. It’s a a very clever story within a story within a novel and this Russian Doll effect is what makes it really different. Of course, King has done this before in Song of Susannah, but The Wind Through the Keyhole does it better. If King had released this idea as a book in its own right, it’d be fantastic. As part of the Dark Tower series, it’s bloody brilliant. It’s times like The Wind Through the Keyhole when you realise (all over again) why King is a master of the craft, and why I envy his skill so damned much.
If you know the Dark Tower series, read it. If you don’t, then set aside a chunk of your life and bask in the awesomeness. I implore you.
Thanks for reading.