Recently I read the new Dark Tower novel by Stephen King, The Wind Through the Keyhole. Here are my comments.
The book is set between the existing Dark Tower Book 4 Wizard and Glass and Book 5 The Wolves of the Calla. Roland and his ka-tet are making their way along the path of the beam and while crossing a river Roland realises that a starkblast is coming, a storm that is preceded by unseasonably warm weather but will quickly turn violently cold and freeze objects and people where they stand. They quickly get to shelter and Roland starts to tell his friends a tale of his younger days.
So in the story in the story he tells of an early mission his father sent him on to find the culprit behind some violent murders in a small outlying mining town. It becomes apparent that the murderer is in fact a ‘skin-man’ a shape changing beast not unlike a werwolf but capable of changing form to any creature. The only question is whether the individual responsible is aware of the changes or not.
One witness left alive, a boy, is able to describe an identifying mark on the man so Roland sends his companions to round up the suspects. While they wait for the suspects to arrive Roland tells the boy a story.
So now we have a story in a story in a story called The Wind Through the Keyhole and deals with a boy called Tim who must venture into the Endless forest to find a magician who may be able to help cure his mother of an ailment. It is supposedly Mid-World’s version of a fairy tale but includes an individual who is clearly the Man in Black from the other books in the series as he signs his initials ‘RF’, i.e. Randal Flagg. So I wonder if the fairly tale we read is Roland’s version or if it is actually the truth behind whatever story he tells.
The fairy tale section is by far the longest bit of the book, and clearly the other sequences are framing devices for it. My own favourite sections deal with the young Roland hunting the skin-man. I hope Stephen king gives us more tales of the young Roland in future volumes.
Also worth mentioning, I enjoyed the ‘artyfact’ Tim gets his hands on in his tale, an electronic device called DARIA that is essentially a GPS device constructed by our old friends North Central Positronics.
In any event it is always a pleasure to revisit Mid -World.