Wolves of the Calla (2003) Stephen King, Hodder & Stoughton, £25.00, hrdbk, 640pp, ISBN 0-340-82715-7
Featuring 12 colour plates by artist Bernie Wrightson, this is volume five of The Dark Tower, King's epic western/SF/horror/fantasy inspired by Robert Browning's poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. The final two volumes will be published in Spring and Autumn of next year, and the first four volumes are reprinted this year, with volume one, The Gunslinger, slightly expanded from original 1982 (US)/1988 (UK) version. The impetus to finish was provided courtesy of King's road accident, a reminder of his mortality. In this fifth volume Roland, Susannah, Eddie and Jake continue their quest for the Dark Tower, meeting along the way Father Callahan from 'Salem's Lot in a border/ranch town at the edge of Mid-World. This town is visited every 23 years or so by the Wolves who steal one of every twin child, who are returned as giant idiots several weeks later. The plot is pretty much The Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven, but just as engaging, though it is the unfolding of the larger 'quest' story that most enthralls. The main interest here being Susannah's pregnancy, more than hinted at in volume two, The Drawing of the Three. Astute readers should by now have guessed where the tale is going, though I shan't give anything away here. Suffice to say that a pretty huge clue is given in the closing stages of this novel, especially in the epilogue...
It's been widely hinted, not least by King himself, that this is his swan song which, if true, is an enormous shame since he has been consistently engaging since his first novel, Carrie. I suspect that there is probably at least one more collection of King's short stories/novellas to go, since there appears to be a few leftovers not yet collected, and I can't see King's publishers turning down the chance to make a few more bucks.
See also Wizard and Glass: The Dark Tower 4, Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower 6 and The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower 7.
Also see The Dark Tower, A Concordance vol.1 by Robin Furth.
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