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The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah

By Mike Everleth ⋅ February 8, 2006

The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah

After slogging through the twin behomoths of Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, it was refreshing to zip right through this relative slim chapter of the Dark Tower saga. Especially before going onto the equally monstrous last book, which I will be beginning shortly.

One of the hardest things about writing these Dark Tower reviews is trying to write enough to give a good flavor for each book, but without revealing too much information that may ruin the experience for potential readers. Yeah, I know if you’re still on The Drawing of the Three and stumble upon this review of Song of Susannah, you’ll probably stop reading now.

But with the Internet, you never know what’s going to pop up in search results where key plot points can appear, nor is it totally possible to not “peek ahead” to find out what’s going to happen to certain characters that you’re dying to know. It’s like when Marvel‘s comic adaptation of Return of the Jedi came out a month or more before the film was released. I didn’t want to look at it before seeing the movie, but I thought flipping a few pages to skim the art wasn’t a bad idea. And that’s how I found out Leia was Luke’s sister. I’m still somewhat annoyed about that incident.

However, the event that I’ve been hinting at that might happen in the series did finally happen in this installment and I feel like I need to comment on it–and I’ll leave enough out so that there’s still some surprise for new readers.

Despite having written myself into the mini-comic I produced in high school, The Redemption Squad, I’m generally not too keen on authors putting themselves in their work. I feel like I did it because I didn’t know any better and it seemed like a decent idea at the time that was suggested to me by Matt Feazell. And when Matt Feazell suggests you do something–You do it!

The problem, I think, of Stephen King appearing in his own book is that I don’t really care about Stephen King. Don’t get me wrong. He seems like an interesting, nice guy and it would probably be a real hoot to hang out with him. (I do enjoy his back page editorials in Entertainment Weekly.) But I’m not that emotionally invested in him the way I am in his characters, like Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake or Oy. So, it’s kind of a distraction when King finally pops up. Plus, these kind of scenes usually aren’t that interesting, nor realistic. There’s the moment of shock, the acceptance of the absurdity of the situation, then a plot advancement and then the end.

The good news, though, is that all is not lost. King does work in enough interesting twists to make his appearance somewhat intriguing and it’s all not just a simple case of “I created you.” Elements from other books and movies have been popping up throughout the series. I mentioned some in my Wolves of the Calla review, but I guess more obscure references have been showing up before that. Plus, as we’ve been informed, the entire tale is based on a Robert Browning poem.

By interweaving all these elements, King seems to be making a statement about the entire nature of how these fantasy worlds can be more real than the real world. So far we still don’t know where the Dark Tower lies, but I have a guess: At the heart of human imagination.

Finally, I feel a little bad about focusing so much on what is only a couple of pages in the entire book. In addition to this bit with King meeting his characters, the rest of Song of Susannah is a real ripping yarn with one of the most exciting, explosive sequences in the entire series thus far. King (the real one) has done a great job of putting his characters in dire circumstances and finding creative ways of getting out of their respective jams. I think the last few books have suffered from a lack of tension that really goes balls to the wall in this book.

And at this point I’m really anxious to see how this all wraps up.

Buy Song of Susannah at Amazon.com!