The Waste Lands picks up a few weeks after the end of The Drawing of the Three. I would say some cliche line about how their journey to the Dark Tower continues, but that’s the purpose of every book, so I won’t. The third volume is mostly concerned with completing this newly formed group, or ka-tet. With Eddie and Susannah in tow, the only person missing was Jake. Mind you I said person.
Jake’s presence, or lack there of, was causing a problem for both himself and Roland. Since Roland saved him from dying at the hands of Jack Mort, yet also experiencing his death under the mountain in The Gunslinger, his mind was beginning to fracture. Jake’s as well. He was still living in 1977 New York, exhibiting signs of schizophrenia from his own death that didn’t occur.
There’s more weird Stephen King logic here with how the ka-tet rescued Jake from his world. It makes sense in context, as you read the story, but upon reflection, it’s a little odd to dissect. Especially the part with Susannah having sex with a demon to keep it occupied. At least this made more sense plot wise that it did in It. While the first half of the book is concerned with reuniting Jake and Roland, the later half begins their journey proper.
A lot of mythology is introduced here with the concept of the Twelve Guardians, the Beams, and Portals. This is the type of world building that can’t occur until much of the character groundwork is set. Many stories fumble because they try to sell you on the setting and world building. Character must always come first. If you don’t care about the person you’re following, the rest is just noise.
The ka-tet continue traveling along the Beam to the city of Lud. The final, and best member of their group joins. A billy-bumbler (very intelligent raccoon dog) they name Oy accompany them. Upon approach of the city, they hear a ZZ Top song, and cross a decaying bridge that looks like the George Washington Bridge in New York. As they continue through Lud, they continue encountering more old technology from our world.
With this book defining the concept of multiple worlds, many Stephen King novels can now be interlinked. I remember the beginning of each book containing a list of other King novels with nearly half the titles highlighted as related. A few have minor connections like Cujo or N (short story in Just After Sunset). But many have direct connections that can begin to be seen here. The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, and Insomnia have major ties that won’t be seen until later books in the series, where as The Mist is more apparent now. Where else did the creatures come from than somewhere on the Beam, or the Prim?
The Waste Lands reads well, moving the plot and characters along while filling in the background. As a middle book, it fulfills its purpose, though it doesn’t offer many shake ups or game changers.
What’s your favorite connection to other books? Think seeing broken bits of our world is inspired, or lazy? Comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter! You can now see my Saturday Morning Cartoon posts at The Two-Headed Nerd!
I love Oy.