Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

A hugely entertaining adventure, rich in allusion.
Wolves of the Calla book cover

And so we come to book number five in what I now class as one of the greatest - certainly one of my favourite - fantasy series of all time. In Wolves of the Calla King pays unashamed homage to The Seventh Samurai and The Magnificent Seven as ka finds the ka-tet honour-bound to prevent the mysterious "wolves" from descending upon Calla Bryn Sturgis and taking the villagers' children.

If you've enjoyed the previous four books in the series then you will not be disappointed with number five. As was the case with Wizard and Glass, it is almost a self-contained story, complete with a whole new set of new and memorable characters. In short the narrative covers the planning and defence of the "Calla" from the wolves but there are also so many sub-plots that have great importance in the Dark Tower quest as a whole. For example, in the Calla there is a man named Father Callaghan, and King's constant readers will recognise him as the priest whose faith failed him in Salem's Lot. His story takes up a goodly portion of the book and it as compelling as Roland's was in the previous instalment, with King's own battle with alcoholism leading to a very realistic depiction of a man for who the bottle is King. But as well as Callaghan there are numerous other characters to bring the Calla to life and by the time the climatic final battle comes to pass you really care what happens to them. My favourite parts of the book, other than Callaghan's story, was when Roland found some respite from his loneliness. But there was no masking the almost overwhelming weariness that is beginning to inflict itself upon him.

If you have already invested time in the series then the main characters will grow even further on you. Roland, Eddie and Susannah continue to become more and I thought that Jake's character really came on, benefitting from his major role in the defence of the Calla. I constantly found myself amazed at both King's imagination and how he has managed to make everything fit together so well. He ties up loose ends from earlier works with consummate skill and further teases with glimpses of the world before it moved on.

A must for fans of the series and don't forget there is now a book 4.5, The Wind Through the Keyhole, that can be read between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. The books ending hints at what is to come in THAT book - book six, with which I have a very strange relationship and I'm keen to see what this re-read brings. A review of Song of Susannah to follow shortly…

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