Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, Book 4)

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9780670032570: Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, Book 4)

Beginning with a short story appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1978, the publication of Stephen King's epic work of fantasy-what he considers to be a single long novel and his magnum opus-has spanned a quarter of a century.

Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King's most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement. In November 2003, the fifth installment, Wolves of the Calla, will be published under the imprint of Donald M. Grant, with distribution and major promotion provided by Scribner. Song of Susannah, Book VI, and The Dark Tower, Book VII, will follow under the same arrangement in 2004. With these last three volumes finally on the horizon, readers-countless King readers who have yet to delve into The Dark Tower and a multitude of new and old fantasy fans-can now look forward to reading the series straight through to its stunning conclusion. Viking's elegant reissue of the first four books ensures that for the first time The Dark Tower will be widely available in hardcover editions for this eager readership.

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Review:

Wizard and Glass, the fourth episode in King's white-hot Dark Tower series, is a sci-fi/fantasy novel that contains a post-apocalyptic Western love story twice as long. It begins with the series' star, world-weary Roland, and his world-hopping posse (an ex-junkie, a child, a plucky woman in a wheelchair, and a talking dog-like pet named Oy the Bumbler) trapped aboard a runaway train. The train is a psychotic multiple personality that intends to commit suicide with them at 800 m.p.h.--unless Roland and pals can outwit it in a riddling contest.

It's a great race, for the mind and pulse. Movies should be this good. Then comes a 567-page flashback about Roland at age 14. It's a well-marbled but meaty tale. Roland and two teen homies must rescue his first love from the dirty old drooling mayor of a post-apocalyptic cowboy town, thwart a civil war by blowing up oil tanks, and seize an all-seeing crystal ball from Rhea, a vampire witch. The love scenes are startlingly prominent and earthier than most romance novels (they kiss until blood trickles from her lip).

After an epic battle ending in a box canyon to end all box canyons, we're back with grizzled, grown-up Roland and the train-wreck survivors in a parallel world: Kansas in 1986, after a plague. The finale is a weird fantasy takeoff on The Wizard of Oz. Some readers will feel that the latest novel in King's most ambitious series has too many pages--almost 800--but few will deny it's a page-turner.

About the Author:

Stephen King has written more than forty books and two hundred short stories. He has won the World Fantasy Award, several Bram Stoker awards, and the O. Henry Award for his story "The Man in the Black Suit."

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