Review; Song of Susanna by Stephen King

Oh, Stephen.

Where do I even start to review this book. Maybe the forewarnings of all my friends who told me that this book would be bad, along with all their many reasons. Despite that, I have to say I went into this book expecting the worst, but being pleasantly surprised a few chapters in. It was like falling in with old friends, because really, after six books, it really is like that.

Unfortunately the reality set in.

Song of Susannah is book six of the Dark Tower series, continuing to follow Roland and his ka-tet on their journey to the aforementioned Dark Tower. Rather than continue the story that had faltered somewhat in the last book, we’re thrown into Earth, as the group pursue Susannah, who has been hijacked by yet another personality (well, actually this time a possession, but whose being picky) and run off to have her ‘chap’ , the one that will destroy Roland and end his quest, thus bringing the worlds into endless discordia.

This series started with such abundant promise. It really was what King imagined it. His Lord of the Rings. It’s just along the way it felt like the ideas ran ragged and loose. Something was lost in the telling. Running a very fine line in the original books with ka (the idea of destiny), it now becomes coincidence for the sake of coincidence (or was that even a coincidence asks the book at points). We’ve lost sight of the Man in Black, whose gone through so many transformations and iterations and who-is-he-reallys since the journey began. I somewhat wish that the plot were tighter and the reasons more compelling than what’s happened.

The writing gets even more lose, even conversational at points. Chapters end up being about five paragraphs at points. We meet up with Stephen King himself which was never going to be a good thing, even if we are binding ones entire writing career and life into one thing. Although Susannah is a compelling enough character, her possessor Mia isn’t until near the end. Going on endlessly about her ‘chap’ is enough to make one want to dump the book early on.

A friend said I could safely skip this book and just read a plot summary, and unfortunately that’s how I felt after reading it. Nothing was really gained. We took a sidestep on the journey to the Dark Tower, finding out the reasons and further links to the real world, and Stephen Kings as a distraction for what could have really been a true epic of Tolkien proportions. One could argue that we’re setting up Rolands downfall, but really? The Crimson King is about as elusive as Sauron, but even Sauraman turned up more in Lord of the Rings than the Man in Black and his cohorts.

I hear that the final book is back to form, it’s just a pity that the previous two volumes have detracted, rather than added to the series.


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