The Waste Lands is book 3 in King’s Dark Tower series. (See my reviews of book 1 and book 2.) As Jeff said in a comment on an earlier review, they keep getting better and better! (He also said that the first 4 are the best, meaning that we’re headed downhill here soon; but I am optimistically hoping that the slope will be gradual, and/or that I will disagree with him!)
Plot-wise, I’m going to be brief here. There are copious summaries all over The Internet. See my reviews of the first two books for discussion of what this series is really about, in all its sweeping epic genre-mashup glory.
Roland and his two new companions, Eddie and Susannah, are continuing on their quest towards the Dark Tower; but really, this is Roland’s quest, with the other two along as less-than-eager fugitives from their own world. One of the plot arcs involves Eddie and Susannah becoming increasingly invested in the quest for its own sake, rather than accompanying Roland as a self-preservation method. The central struggle of this book, however, is to get Jake (“The Boy”) over from his world to theirs. Jake played an important role in The Gunslinger, where he… seems to have died… twice… but here he is again, because as he so importantly cried out in book 1, “there are other worlds than these.” Jake and Roland both have memories of their shared experiences, which conflict with parallel memories that say they never met. Both are in the process of being driven crazy by these warring memories; bringing our four characters together in the flesh will resolve that threat. Finally, we pick up a 5th: a billy-bumbler (that is something like a cross between a raccoon and a dog, that talks, and likes people) they call Oy. He’s really Jake’s billy-bumbler, and turns out to be a very clever one, who helps save the day repeatedly. I am over-the-moon smitten with Oy and delighted to have him along for the ride. I want a billy-bumbler, too.
At the close of The Waste Lands, our newly minted, secure, united ka-tet of Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy is headed towards likely death in a monorail train with a consciousness that likes riddles. However, there is a book 4 to come, so I suspect they will manage to elude destruction once again!
I love this series; I’ve already ordered the rest of the books so I won’t have to take any more breaks! Hooray for Stephen King and his mind-boggling ability to create immense, epic, complex and fascinating worlds in his head and then invite the rest of us into them. I think somebody should write a dissertation on why King is Literature despite also being Popular With The Kids. Keep ‘em coming.