Wolves of the Calla was the first time I had ever heard the Dark Tower. A friend was reading the recently released hardcover, excited to dive in as it had been 7 years since Wizard and Glass was released. He told me about Roland, the Gunslinger, and generally sold me on the books. Hungry for new things to read (I had a lot of free time then), I picked up the first four. Two weeks later I was ready to start Wolves (again, a lot of free time).
Much like book IV, book V in the series doesn’t focus on the main goal of reaching the tower. While Glass was mostly concerned with delving into Roland’s past, Wolves gives Roland and his ka-tet the chance to be gunslingers, helping people. The group comes across a small town, Calla Bryn Sturgis, which is plagued by the Wolves of the Thunderclap. Once a generation the Wolves come, taking one of the twins, as every family gives birth to twins. After a few months, the children are returned, though now mentally handicapped, eventually growing to large sizes and dying young.
The premise is similar to Seven Samurai, and many different westerns. King fully embraces the crossovers from his other novels, introducing Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot. Callahan found himself in Mid-World after being killed in 1983 in our world. He hunted vampires for years, becoming a wanted man, before being murdered by the low men.
While preparing the villagers for battle, as the Wolves are due to return in a month’s time, Roland learns of a rose in a vacant lot in mid-town Manhattan in 1977. This rose is an incarnation of the tower in this world. If it is destroyed, the tower falls. Complicating matters, Roland and Jake have noticed strange changes in Susannah. Eventually they deduce she was impregnated by the demon in the stone circle during The Waste Lands. Though they kept this from her, she comes to them with the information, naming her Mia, “daughter of none.”
Again, I’m starting to notice the flaws in this series as I reflect on them. As I read, I unabashedly loved them, recommending them to others who enjoyed them as well. Initially part of the charm for the series was the cobbling together of this broken world with real world elements. Looking back on it now, it sticks out like a sore thumb. I love plot of this book, but adding in the rose in ’77 New York is just odd. This is exacerbated by the Wolves use of Harry Potter Snitches and Star Wars lightsabers as weapons, outright calling them as such. Honestly, it has been some time since I’ve read the books. I’m not sure how these ideas would sit with me re-experiencing the execution. And Susannah, sheesh. The crazy person is acting crazy, how strange.
Wolves of the Calla begins a sprint to the finish. The path to the tower increases in pace at the end, continuing in the next two volumes. Overall, the story with the Calla is an interesting one that I enjoyed. But by this point, I’m sure you’re invested enough to finish.
Plates as weapons? I’ve seen dumber ideas.