Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

Wolves of the Calla dt-5

Stephen King

  Wolves of the Calla

  ( Dark Tower - 5 )

  Stephen King

  Wolves of the Calla continues the adventures of Roland, the last gunslinger and survivor of a civilized world that has "moved on." Roland's quest is ka, an inevitable destiny-to reach and perhaps save the Dark Tower, which stands at the center of everywhere and everywhen. This pursuit brings Roland, with the three others who've joined his quest, to Calla Bryn Sturgis, a town in the shadow of Thunderclap, beyond which lies the Dark Tower. Before advancing, however, they must face the evil wolves of Thunderclap, who threaten to destroy the Calla by abducting its young.

  With the recent mainstream success of the Harry Potter books, Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, and the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, serial fantasy is bigger than ever-and the exciting, action-packed Wolves of the Calla, delivered in a beautiful, illustrated edition, is sure to be an enormous treat for fans both new and old.

  Stephen King

  Wolves of the Calla

  Wolves of the Calla continues the adventures of Roland, the last gunslinger and survivor of a civilized world that has "moved on." Roland's quest is ka, an inevitable destiny-to reach and perhaps save the Dark Tower, which stands at the center of everywhere and everywhen. This pursuit brings Roland, with the three others who've joined his quest, to Calla Bryn Sturgis, a town in the shadow of Thunderclap, beyond which lies the Dark Tower. Before advancing, however, they must face the evil wolves of Thunderclap, who threaten to destroy the Calla by abducting its young.

  With the recent mainstream success of the Harry Potter books, Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, and the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, serial fantasy is bigger than ever-and the exciting, action-packed Wolves of the Calla, delivered in a beautiful, illustrated edition, is sure to be an enormous treat for fans both new and old.

  This book is for Frank Muller, who hears the voices in my head.

  The Final Argument

  Wolves of the Calla is the fifth volume of a longer tale inspired by Robert Browning's narrative poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." The sixth, Song of Susannah, will be published in 2004. The seventh and last, The Dark Tower, will be published later that same year.

  The first volume, The Gunslinger, tells how Roland Deschain of Gilead pursues and at last catches Walter, the man in black- he who pretended friendship with Roland's father but actually served the Crimson King in far-off End-World. Catching the half-human Walter is for Roland a step on the way to the Dark Tower, where he hopes the quickening destruction of Mid-World and the slow death of the Beams may be halted or even reversed. The subtitle of this novel is RESUMPTION.

  The Dark Tower is Roland's obsession, his grail, his only reason for living when we meet him. We learn of how Marten tried, when Roland was yet a boy, to see him sent west in disgrace, swept from the board of the great game. Roland, however, lays Marten's plans at nines, mostly due to his choice of weapon in his manhood test.

  Steven Deschain, Roland's father, sends his son and two friends (Cuthbert Allgood and Alain Johns) to the seacoast barony of Mejis, mostly to place the boy beyond Walter's reach. There Roland meets and falls in love with Susan Delgado, who has fallen afoul a witch. Rhea of the Coos is jealous of the girl's beauty, and particularly dangerous because she has obtained one of the great glass balls known as the Bends o' the Rainbow… or the Wizard's Glasses. There are thirteen of these in all, the most powerful and dangerous being Black Thirteen. Roland and his friends have many adventures in Mejis, and although they escape with their lives (and the pink Bend o' the Rainbow), Susan Delgado, the lovely girl at the window, is burned at the stake. This tale is told in the fourth volume, Wizard and Glass. The subtitle of this novel is REGARD.

  In the course of the tales of the Tower we discover that the gunslinger's world is related to our own in fundamental and terrible ways. The first of these links is revealed when Jake, a boy from the New York of 1977, meets Roland at a desert way station long years after the death of Susan Delgado. There are doors between Roland's world and our own, and one of them is death. Jake finds himself in this desert way station after being pushed into Forty-third Street and run over by a car. The car's driver was a man named Enrico Balazar. The pusher was a criminal sociopath named Jack Mort, Walter's representative on the New York level of the Dark Tower.

  Before Jake and Roland reach Walter, Jake dies again… this time because the gunslinger, faced with an agonizing choice between this symbolic son and the Dark Tower, chooses the Tower. Jake's last words before plunging into the abyss are "Go, then-there are other worlds than these."

  The final confrontation between Roland and Walter occurs near the Western Sea. In a long night of palaver, the man in black tells Roland's future with a Tarot deck of strange device. Three cards-the Prisoner, the Lady of Shadows, and Death ("but not for you, gunslinger")-are especially called to Roland's attention.

  The Drawing of the Three (subtitled RENEWAL) begins on the shore of the Western Sea not long after Roland awakens from his confrontation with Walter. The exhausted gunslinger is attacked by a horde of carnivorous "lobstrosities," and before he can escape, he has lost two fingers of his right hand and has been seriously infected. Roland resumes his trek along the shore of the Western Sea, although he is sick and possibly dying.

  On his walk he encounters three doors standing freely on the beach. These open into New York at three different whens. From 1987, Roland draws Eddie Dean, a prisoner of heroin. From 1964, he draws Odetta Susannah Holmes, a woman who lost her legs when a sociopath named Jack Mort pushed her in front of a subway train. She is the Lady of Shadows, with a violent "other" hidden in her brain. This hidden woman, the violent and crafty Detta Walker, is determined to kill both Roland and Eddie when the gunslinger draws her into Mid-World.

  Roland thinks that perhaps he has drawn three in just Eddie and Odetta, since Odetta is really two personalities, yet when Odetta and Detta merge as one into Susannah (largely thanks to Eddie Dean's love and courage), the gunslinger knows it's not so. He knows something else, as well: he is being tormented by thoughts of Jake, the boy who spoke of other worlds at the time of his death.

  The Waste Lands, subtitled REDEMPTION, begins with a paradox: to Roland, Jake seems both alive and dead. In the New York of the late 1970s, Jake Chambers is haunted by the same question: alive or dead? Which is he? After killing a gigantic bear named either Mir (so called by the old people who went in fear of it) or Shardik (by the Great Old Ones who built it), Roland, Eddie, and Susannah backtrack the beast and discover the Path of the Beam known as Shardik to Maturin, Bear to Turtle. There were once six of these Beams, running between the twelve portals which mark the edges of Mid-World. At the point where the Beams cross, at the center of Roland's world (and all worlds), stands the Dark Tower, the nexus of all where and when.

  By now Eddie and Susannah are no longer prisoners in Roland's world. In love and well on the way to becoming gunslingers themselves, they are full participants in the quest and follow Roland, the last seppe-sai (death-seller), along the Path of Shardik, the Way of Maturin.

  In a speaking ring not far from the Portal of the Bear, time is mended, paradox is ended, and the real third is drawn. Jake reenters Mid-World at the end of a perilous rite where all four-Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Roland-remember the faces of their fathers and acquit themselves honorably. Not long after, the quartet becomes a quintet, when Jake befriends a billy-bumbler. Bumblers, which look like a combination of badger, raccoon, and dog, have a limited speaking ability. Jake names his new friend Oy.

  The way of the pilgrims leads them toward the city of Lud, where the degenerate survivors of two old factions carry on an endless conflict. Before reaching the city, in the little town of
River Crossing, they meet a few ancient survivors of the old days. They recognize Roland as a fellow survivor of those days before the world moved on, and honor him and his companions. The Old People also tell them of a monorail train which may still run from Lud and into the waste lands, along the Path of the Beam and toward the Dark Tower.

  Jake is frightened by this news but not surprised; before being drawn from New York, he obtained two books from a bookstore owned by a man with the thought-provoking name of Calvin Tower. One is a book of riddles with the answers torn out. The other, Charlie the Choo-Choo, is a children's story with dark echoes of Mid-World. For one thing, the word char means death in the High Speech Roland grew up speaking in Gilead.

  Aunt Talitha, the matriarch of River Crossing, gives Roland a silver cross to wear, and the travelers go their course. While crossing the dilapidated bridge which spans the River Send, Jake is abducted by a dying (and very dangerous) outlaw named Gasher. Gasher takes his young prisoner underground to the Tick-Tock Man, the last leader of the faction known as the Grays.

  While Roland and Oy go after Jake, Eddie and Susannah find the Cradle of Lud, where Blaine the Mono awakes. Blaine is the last above ground tool of a vast computer system that lies beneath Lud, and Blaine has only one remaining interest: riddles. It promises to take the travelers to the monorail's final stop… if they can pose it a riddle it cannot solve. Otherwise, Blaine says, their trip will end in death: charyou tree.

  Roland rescues Jake, leaving the Tick-Tock Man for dead. Yet Andrew Quick is not dead. Half-blind, hideously wounded about the face, he is rescued by a man who calls himself Richard Fannin. Fannin, however, also identifies himself as the Ageless Stranger, a demon of whom Roland has been warned.

  The pilgrims continue their journey from the dying city of Lud, this time by monorail. The fact that the actual mind run-ning the mono exists in computers falling farther and farther behind them will make no difference one way or the other when the pink bullet jumps the decaying tracks somewhere along the Path of the Beam at a speed in excess of eight hundred miles an hour. Their one chance of survival is to pose Blaine a riddle which the computer cannot answer.

  At the beginning of Wizard and Glass, Eddie does indeed pose such a riddle, destroying Blaine with a uniquely human weapon: illogic. The mono comes to a stop in a version of Topeka, Kansas, which has been emptied by a disease called "superflu." As they recommence their journey along the Path of the Beam (now on an apocalyptic version of Interstate 70), they see disturbing signs, ALL HAIL THE CRIMSON KING, advises one. WATCH FOR THE WALKING DUDE, advises another. And, as alert readers will know, the Walkin Dude has a name very similar to Richard Fannin.

  After telling his friends the story of Susan Delgado, Roland and his friends come to a palace of green glass which has been constructed across 1-70, a palace that bears a strong resemblance to the one Dorothy Gale sought in The Wizard of Oz. In the throne-room of this great castle they encounter not Oz the Great and Terrible but the Tick-Tock Man, the great city of Lud's final refugee. With Tick-Tock dead, the real Wizard steps forward. It's Roland's ancient nemesis, Marten Broadcloak, known in some worlds as Randall Flagg, in others as Richard Fannin, in others as John Farson (the Good Man). Roland and his friends are unable to kill this apparition, who warns them one final time to give up their quest for the Tower ("Only misfires against me, Roland, old fellow," he tells the gunslinger), but they are able to banish him.

  After a final trip into the Wizard's Glass and a final dreadful revelation-that Roland of Gilead killed his own mother, mistaking her for the witch named Rhea-the wanderers find themselves once more in Mid-World and once more on the Path of the Beam. They take up their quest again, and it is here that we will find them in the first pages of Wolves of the Calla.

  This argument in no way summarizes the first four books of the Tower cycle; if you have not read those books before commencing this one, I urge you to do so or to put this one aside. These books are but parts of a single long tale, and you would do better to read them from beginning to end rather than starting in the middle.

  "Mister, we deal in lead."

  –Steve McQueen, in The Magnificent Seven

  "First comes smiles, then lies. Last is gunfire."

  –Roland Deschain, of Gilead

  The blood that flows through you flows through me, when I look in any mirror, it's your face that I see.

  Take my hand, lean on me,

  We're almost free,

  Wandering boy.

  –Rodney Crowell





  Tian was blessed (though few farmers would have used such a word) with three patches: River Field, where his family had grown rice since time out of mind; Roadside Field, where ka-Jaffords had grown sharproot, pumpkin, and corn for those same long years and generations; and Son of a Bitch, a thankless tract which mostly grew rocks, blisters, and busted hopes. Tian wasn't the first Jaffords determined to make something of the twenty acres behind the home place; his Gran-pere, perfectly sane in most other respects, had been convinced there was gold there. Tian's Ma had been equally positive it would grow porin, a spice of great worth. Tian's particular insanity was madrigal. Of course madrigal would grow in Son of a Bitch. Must grow there. He'd gotten hold of a thousand seeds (and a dear penny they had cost him) that were now hidden beneath the floorboards of his bedroom. All that remained before planting next year was to break ground in Son of a Bitch. This chore was easier spoken of than accomplished.

  Clan Jaffords was blessed with livestock, including three mules, but a man would be mad to try using a mule out in Son of a Bitch; the beast unlucky enough to draw such duty would likely be lying legbroke or stung to death by noon of the first day. One of Tian's uncles had almost met this latter fate some years before. He had come running back to the home place, screaming at the top of his lungs and pursued by huge mutie wasps with stingers the size of nails.

  They had found the nest (well, Andy had found it; Andy wasn't bothered by wasps no matter how big they were) and burned it with kerosene, but there might be others. And there were holes. Yer-bugger, plenty o' them, and you couldn't burn holes, could you? No. Son of a Bitch sat on what the old folks called "loose ground." It was consequently possessed of almost as many holes as rocks, not to mention at least one cave that puffed out draughts of nasty, decay-smelling air. Who knew what boggarts and speakies might lurk down its dark throat?

  And the worst holes weren't out where a man (or a mule) could see them. Not at all, sir, never think so. The leg-breakers were always concealed in innocent-seeming nestles of weeds and high grass. Your mule would step in, there would come a bitter crack like a snapping branch, and then the damned thing would be lying there on the ground, teeth bared, eyes rolling, braying its agony at the sky. Until you put it out of its misery, that was, and stock was valuable in Calla Bryn Sturgis, even stock that wasn't precisely threaded.

  Tian therefore plowed with his sister in the traces. No reason not to. Tia was roont, hence good for little else. She was a big girl-the roont ones often grew to prodigious size-and she was willing, Man Jesus love her. The Old Fella had made her a Jesus-tree, what he called a crusie-fix, and she wore it everywhere. It swung back and forth now, thumping against her sweating skin as she pulled.

  The plow was attached to her shoulders by a rawhide harness. Behind her, alternately guiding the plow by its old iron-wood handles and his sister by the hame-traces, Tian grunted and yanked and pushed when the blade of the plow dropped down and verged on becoming stuck. It was the end of Full Earth but as hot as midsummer here in Son of a Bitch; Tia's overalls were dark and damp and stuck to her long and meaty thighs. Each time Tian tossed his head to get his hair out of his eyes, sweat flew out of the mop in a spray.

  "Gee, ye bitch!" he cried. 'Yon rock's a plow-breaker, are ye blind?"

  Not blind; not deaf, either; just roont. She heaved to the left, and hard. Behind her, Tian stumbled forwa
rd with a neck-snapping jerk and barked his shin on another rock, one he hadn't seen and the plow had, for a wonder, missed. As he felt the first warm trickles of blood running down to his ankle, he wondered (and not for the first time) what madness it was that always got the Jaffordses out here. In his deepest heart he had an idea that madrigal would sow no more than the porin had before it, although you could grow devil-grass; yar, he could've bloomed all twenty acres with that shit, had he wanted. The trick was to keep it out, and it was always New Earth's first chore. It-

  The plow rocked to the right and then jerked forward, almost pulling his arms out of their sockets. "Arr! " he cried. "Go easy, girl! I can't grow em back if you pull em out, can I?"

  Tia turned her broad, sweaty, empty face up to a sky full of low-hanging clouds and honked laughter. Man Jesus, but she even sounded like a donkey. Yet it was laughter, human laughter. Tian wondered, as he sometimes couldn't help doing, if that laughter meant anything. Did she understand some of what he was saying, or did she only respond to his tone of voice? Did any of the roont ones-

  "Good day, sai," said a loud and almost completely toneless voice from behind him. The owner of the voice ignored Tian's scream of surprise. "Pleasant days, and may they be long upon the earth. I am here from a goodish wander and at your service."

  Tian whirled around, saw Andy standing there-all seven feet of him-and was then almost jerked flat as his sister took another of her large lurching steps forward. The plow's hame-traces were pulled from his hands and flew around his throat with an audible snap. Tia, unaware of this potential disaster, took another sturdy step forward. When she did, Tian's wind was cut off. He gave a whooping, gagging gasp and clawed at the straps. All of this Andy watched with his usual large and meaningless smile.