Bewildering Stories

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Steven King's Wolves of The Calla

Title: "Wolves of The Calla"
Author: Steven King
Donald M. Grant/Scribner; (November 4, 2003)
736 pages
ISBN: 1880418568
Price: $35.00

Steven King is one of the most popular authors on the planet. If given the choice between a Steven King book or a Dean Koontz book, I will invariably opt for the Koontz. Why? Because King has a tendency to be nasty. His characters use very foul language frequently, and are generally engaged in disgusting behaviour. So, I like Koontz, who while writing edge-of-the-chair stuff, generally keeps it clean.

However, I make an exception for the "Dark Tower" books. It is interesting, two of the finest series of books are based on the poem "Childe Roland To The Dark Tower Came". The poem, should you wish to read it, is available at various websites, including that of author Jo Walton:

Two series? Yes, King's and that of Gordon Dickson's Childe Cycle. It is interesting to see the different directions these two very different authors head, with Robert Browning's poem as the guiding force. However, a scholarly dissertation on similarities and differences will have to wait for another time. Right now we are discussing, more or less, Wolves of the Calla. For some reason, I keep seeing the title as "The Wolves of Calla", which just isn't correct. Ah well.

People have been waiting for Book 5 of the Dark Tower Series for quite a while, and when King was injured, there was fear he wouldn't finish his series. Fortunately, all seven books are close to completion, if not completed, and the publishing dates have been announced. So, let go a sigh of relief.

The Dark Tower series, unlike most of King's oeuvre, are not horror but instead are fantasy of the first water. Roland is a "gunslinger" from Gilead, a land, a universe, a time, that has "moved on", and so now is nowhere to be found. Roland is making his way through a shattered landscape following a beam which is leading him to the Dark Tower, the central point of all the universes, the axis, the nexus. And the Crimson King, with the forces of Death and Chaos, wishes to destroy or defile that Dark Tower.

Wolves of the Calla continues the journey of Roland and the three he has drawn from what seems to be our world to a "civilized town" called Calla Bryn Sturgis, on the borders of Mid-World. The eponymous Wolves live beyond in the mountainous region of Thunderclap, where they raid the towns and steal children, coming every 23 or 24 years.

One of the primary characters in this book is Pere Callahan, who traveled through a portal from Steven King's world of 'Salem's Lot. King seems to be desirous of tying his various works together by means of the conceit of the Tower at the center of the multiverse. This has irritated some King fans, while others say, "Well, it worked for Robert Heinlein!"

Even if you don't care for King, you should try his Dark Tower series. Oddly enough, you might want to start with The Drawing Of The Three(#2) before going back to The Gunslinger(#1), or start at the beginning, if you will. Wolves is not the best of the series, but it is engaging and well worth your time.

I'm enjoying Wolves of the Calla and I think you will too.

Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Wright