out of 5
Review by Nathaniel
Wizard and Glass begins on a high note with Stephen King's own version of Riddles in the Dark. Eddie Dean proves his resourcefulness by defeating the psychotic monorail Blaine by, ironically enough, solving a riddle presented in Charlie the Choo-Choo (one that the party never realized was such until the end). Disembarking from their deadly voyage the ka-tet finds themselves crossed into a version of Topeka Kansas, the version from King's novel The Stand, where the world is wiped out by a virus called the super flu. This marks one of the earliest introductions to the connected Kingverse that will be strengthened greatly as the mythology deepens. It is here that King departs from the central story to tell us the history of Roland's quest. Until this point we have seen only glimpses of Roland's past through brief flashbacks, and essentially only of his early years and gunslinger training. Here we are finally given a full account of how Roland and his first ka-tet began their quest for the tower. Wizard and Glass becomes a refreshing return to the western backdrop of The Gunslinger in a unique mexican standoff type story involving conspiracy, mystery, romance, and gunfights. When Roland and his two companions, Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns, are sent away from Gilead by Steven Deschain, to be kept safely out of reach of Walter O'dim, they discover an even more prominent threat to the people of In-world than Walter's treachery. What ensues is a narrative that manages to feel both original and classic, with King's uniquely fantasy twist on classical spaghetti western devices all before the backdrop of Mid-world's unique apocalyptic cultural setting. More importantly, this story within the story is where the audience finally understands Roland Deschain, his obsession with the tower, and his often cold and detached personality. He becomes a more human character than is ever expected of the hardened killing machine he is portrayed as in previous books, and his origin story is a tragedy of epic proportions. Wizard and Glass is constantly in contention with Wolves of the Calla and Song of Susannah for the status of my personal favourite. They each have their own astonishing aspects that are each so very different, but Wizard and Glass is certainly one of the best in the series if not its piÃ¨ce de rÃ©sistance.