• The Waste Lands by Stephen King
• Paperback: 588 pages
• Publisher: Signet, 2003 (originally published in 1991)
• ISBN: 0451210867
• Genre: Fantasy/Horror
• Recommended For: Any serious Stephen King fan who wants to truly understand the Stephen King universe via reading the Dark Tower series; fans of fantasy.
Quick Review: Earns a 98 %, or 4.9 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. The Waste Lands Rubric
Simply put, this book (the third in the series) is amazing! If you have tried to read The Dark Tower series and couldn’t get into it, I’m guessing that you didn’t get this far. Keep going!
How I Got Here: It was next. It should be noted that this, and all of the Dark Tower series, is a re-read for me. I first read the series in 2004-2005. This book satisfies tasks for The Dark Tower Challenge and The Stephen King Project.
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
Roland, the last gunslinger, moves ever closer to the Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares as he travels through city and country in Mid-World – a macabre world that is a twisted image of our own. With him are those he has drawn to this world: street-smart Eddie and courageous, wheelchair-bound Susannah.
Ahead of him are mind-bending revelations about who and what is driving him. Against him is arrayed a swelling legion of foes-both more and less than human…
My Analysis and Critique:
When you love a book as much as I loved this one, the review is either very easy to write, or very hard. I’ll do my best to write well. Sometimes the best writing is simple, so I’ll keep it simple.
Simply put, this book (the third in the series) is amazing! If you have tried to read the Dark Tower series and couldn’t get into it, I’m guessing that you didn’t get this far. Keep going! Although I loved The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, neither are as good as The Waste Lands. Yet, they are definitely essential for building the back story leading to this action-packed thriller/horror/fantasy novel.
So much happens in this book, and I don’t know how to discuss it without giving spoilers (ugh, I hate the limitations caused by spoilers!). The plot is quick, yet full, loaded with world-building, mystery, and suspense. The characters are fully-functioning and developed–I have completely fallen in love with the Ka-tet of Eddie, Roland, Jake, and, of course, the billy-bumbler Oy (Susannah still needs room to grow, but I remember loving her in book 5, so I’ll give it time). The themes have grown huge in this novel–I have questions about other dimensions, nuclear holocaust, time travel, cross-textual themes, and so much more that I can’t even explain. This book makes one think and question.
The Waste Lands is the point where my Dark Tower addiction begins. I can’t get enough of the connectivity between the Dark Tower series and King’s other novels, and this is where it really begins (fans of The Stand–if you want more Randall Flagg, you’ve gotta read this series!). I love the mystery of The Beams, the legends behind the Guardians of The Beams, the horrors of a world devastated by some sort of nuclear disaster (you know when King writes it, it results in some seriously frightening mutants), and the thrills I get when Jake is in danger (twice in this book). And then there’s Blaine. Blaine the pain.
Hopefully, I’ve sold you. Read the Dark Tower series. Read it so that you can read The Waste Lands. You won’t be sorry.
Review Bonus Features:
Soundtrack to the Book (the drums heard throughout the novel):