The Waste Lands is the third installment in the Dark Tower series and, having established two of the main characters who will remain pivotal throughout the series in The Drawing of the Three, Waste Lands moves Roland and his companions closer to the Dark Tower while picking up a few more companions on the way. While The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three set the course for the series, The Waste Lands is the installment that truly lets the story begin.
In The Waste Lands, we learn that this landscape that Roland has been traversing, the Mid-World, is the center to all the worlds that surround it. These worlds, from which Jake Chambers, the boy from The Gunslinger, and Eddie Dean and Susannah have passed, are dependent on the Mid-World and, most importantly, the center of the Mid-World, The Dark Tower itself.
While The Waste Lands is the story that truly begins to set the series on course, it is also the installment that gives the readers answers to the questions they have undoubtedly been asking while reading the series. The drawback to this is that these answers raise almost as many questions as they answer.
Following the death of Jack Mort in The Drawing of the Three, Jake Chambers, the boy who Roland ultimately sacrificed in his pursuit of the Man in Black, rejoins Roland and his new companions.
It is within The Waste Lands that we learn about the six “beams” that hold together the Mid-World and, as a result, the worlds that depend on it. Like Frodo making his way to the fiery edge of Mount Doom, Roland and his companions attempt to make their way across the beams and to the Dark Tower. As the Mid-World and the worlds connected to it continue to ravel at the seams as reality deteriorates and breaks down, Roland, Susannah, Jake, and Eddie must fight the madness that threatens to overtake them.
While this installment is the one that accelerates the series, readers jumping past the first two installments, The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, will no doubt find themselves in a mass of confusion. However, readers who stay with King through the first two novels in the series will find themselves rewarded for their perseverance as The Waste Lands reaches its shocking cliffhanger ending.
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