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Wolves of Calla
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I'm currently listening to Stephen King's fifth book in his Dark Tower series, The Wolves of Calla.

So far I'm only halfway into the first tape, and already it's evident that the book is a riff on The Magnificent Seven. You know, small village of farmers terrorized by bandits/desperados. They're tired of being terrorized and want to fight back, but don't have the means. So they find hired guns to help them, and so on and so forth.

I guess since the Dark Tower series itself is a mish-mash of various influences and references, from Arthurian legend to spaghetti westerns, that an entire book in the series spent as an homage to a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven story archetype isn't that far off the mark. But it already feels a little disappointing in that respect. I already know the shape of the story, without having read much at all. And this is disappointing because the first couple of books seemed so damned strange and original. Even though they were cobbled together out of various influences, the resulting mixture was alien and fascinating at the same time.

Especially in the second book, The Drawing of the Three, I kept turning the pages, fascinated by what bizarre thing King would pull out of his hat next. But by now, Roland's world has already begun to feel too familiar. The saga has lost its immediacy and novelty. The first two books, and even the third, are much fresher in my mind, but the fourth, told mostly in flashback, has mostly faded.

And now, the fifth looks to be simply a retelling of the most cliched and overtold templates of the filmed Western.

Still, I'll continue to listen, and I'll probably enjoy it with a sense of familiarity...but that's not why I liked the Dark Tower books in the first place. There's always been talk of King running out of steam, but I really do think this is now true. Personally, I think Hearts in Atlantis was his last really good book.

His last few books have simply been rehashes of his earlier, better works, and now this fifth book in his most original series of works looks to be a rehash, not even of his own stories, but of someone else's stories.

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