Along with Stephen King, George Lucas was integral to my childhood, specifically my childhood with respect to fictional characters. I didn't have a father, so it's no wonder why Temple of Doom is my favorite Indiana Jones movie. Short Round was a little Asian me. He even did karate, just like I will when I grow up...I digress. I would always have to defend it from others who said that it was "the worst one." When Indy 4 finally came out, it was actually the best gift they could have given me. I haven't had to defend Temple of Doom since.
I don't have much in the way of religion, either. However, insomuch that I do my pantheon, my mythology, my religion is Star Wars. When I heard that the prequels were finally happened, it was like the second-coming. I took my girlfriend at the time (who hadn't seen any Star Wars) to the first movie and was not willing to admit I was disappointed. In fact, to this day, I am disappointed with neither new entry into the canon of the hallowed characters of my youth. Sure, they didn't (couldn't) compare to the originals, but Lucas owes us nothing. He was willing to give us more of what we loved (or what he thought we loved) and we've thrown it back in his face, disgusted. I can't figure out if we're assholes or if it is just a testament to Lucas's talent, that we care so much about these made up people.
When I heard about Wind Through the Keyhole, as a stand-alone Dark Tower novel, I was overjoyed. Another favorite series (from my youth, adolescence, adulthood...just see last post) would continue. King didn't owe us anymore, but we got it. I should have seen it as an omen that this story was to be considered (chronologically) book 4.5.
We start with our familiar characters meeting unfamiliar characters and they are on-the-move to avoid a dangerous weather phenomenon known as a "Starkblast." I saw where this was heading and I thought of a certain 17 year-old listening to Metallica on the floor of a hospital hallway (see last post) who would be pissed. Yet, I was almost twice the age of that boy and I was willing, eager even, to revisit Roland's youth with him, before the world moved on.
Another pleasant surprised happened when got into the take of the Skin-Man, but one that spoke to the writer in me. For the first time, King writes Roland using the first-person narrative point-of-view. However, about a hundred pages into the book, I realized where we were headed. It was a story that framed the telling of another story that framed the telling of a THIRD story. This one with none of our familiar characters (save for a King villain staple). This story-within-a-story-within-another-story takes up just over half of the book. A little over three-hundred pages, we only get 146 with Roland.
Yet, we were owed no more books about this world, so the fact that we got anything is great. Perhaps there will be more stand-alone stories or perhaps this is the final window into Mid-World. Is this a "must-have" book for fans of the series? No. But is it a book worth reading? Sure. Just, if you are rabid fan of The Dark Tower, lower your expectations and be pleasantly surprised.