The Dark Tower series was one of the great joys of my reading life. However, it also frustrated me to the point where I often wanted to bludgeon Steph...moreThe Dark Tower series was one of the great joys of my reading life. However, it also frustrated me to the point where I often wanted to bludgeon Stephen King with a hardback copy of It.
I was baffled by The Gunslinger when I first read it way back in my high school days. It had been an unobtainable limited edition that had popped up in the title card of King’s other books, and when it finally went into wide release I couldn’t wait to snatch it up. But then I couldn’t make sense of it. There was a cowboy in an almost apocalyptic landscape where magic existed, but everyone knew the lyrics to Hey Jude. After scratching my head over it for a while, I decided that King must have hit the bottle a little extra hard that day, and then I forgot all about it.
I was so unimpressed that I didn’t even make an effort to get The Drawing of the Three when it first released. When I finally read it, I got an inkling of what King was doing, and it seemed cool as hell. And since I had delayed reading the second book for so long, I didn’t have a long wait for the third one. By the early ‘90s I had gone from Dark Tower skeptic to hardcore convert. (Little did I know the frustrations that awaited.)
The gunslinger is Roland Deschain, a kind of knight with two six guns instead of a sword and shield. Roland is chasing a mysterious ‘man in black’ across a seemingly endless desert. We don’t know exactly where they are, but the place seems to be in a state of decay. There are occasional remnants of very advanced technology, but things have devolved to the point where Roland’s revolvers are the most high tech thing around. Magic, demons and mutants are also common place in this world.
Over the course of the book, we learn that Roland has been chasing this man for years, and he’s never been closer. He eventually comes across Jake, a young boy whose last memory is of being pushed into the street and killed by the man in black in what seems to be our New York of the 1970s. Roland knows that Jake has been left as a trap to force him into a choice that will further damn his soul (Which is seeming kind of ragged around the edges anyhow.), but he is committed to catching the man in black so he can find the Dark Tower.
After the other books in the series had come out, I would occasionally go back through The Gunslinger and what came later completely changed my mind about this. It went from being a strange book that I didn’t understand or care about to the surreal prologue to a series I was more than a little obsessed with. I started to enjoy the cryptic vagueness and lack of information in the story. It was our introduction to the obsessed Roland, and once we got a bigger look at that world I came to love this book.
However, when King started the series, he had no idea what came next or how it would end, and he never felt obligated to stick strictly to the hints and clues that he littered in earlier books like this one or even his other books that contained bits of the Dark Tower. So there were continuity errors and predicted events that never came to pass. After finishing the series, King decided to update and revise The Gunslinger to get it in line with what he wrote later.
If he would have just stuck to cleaning up some of the continuity errors and revising the prophecy bits to match, I could have lived with that. Unfortunately, King couldn’t resist seeding the entire revised edition with more history and foreshadowing of coming events than in the original version. I liked it more when he stuck to just throwing us in the deep end with this strange world and morally compromised main character. I still prefer my original copy, flaws and all.
However, there’s another factor in play when it comes to this revised edition, but I can’t talk about it without spoiling the ending. My official recommendation for newbies is to read the original version first, then the series and then come back to this revised edition if you feel like it. Call me old school, but I think it plays better that way.
Here’s a bit more about why King gets a bit of a pass for essentially pulling a George Lucas and having Han shoot first. Do NOT read this if you don’t want to know how the series ends.
(view spoiler)[ King gave himself a Get-Out-of-Jail free card with the ending to DT. Since we know that Roland is trapped in loops where he keeps getting to the tower but going back to the beginning of The Gunslinger, King could present an almost infinite number of versions of the story with variations and say that they’re all different cycles. When I think of this updated version like that, as slightly altered because it’s a different cycle than the first time I read it, I like it a lot more.
Thinking about this, King could actually rewrite all the books as many times as he pleases using this idea of it being just another cycle where Roland does things differently. If he wanted to really get the DT fans excited, he could even re-do the series as a ‘final’ cycle where Roland goes back but has the Horn this time, maybe doesn’t let Jake fall and finally walks away from the trap in the Tower at the end. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
“No...moreMid-World General Emergency Room - 9:19 PM
“Step in here, please. What’s your name?”
“And do you have any allergies, Mr. Deschain?”
“And when…..wait a second. Roland Deschain? The last gunslinger? The guy who is on a quest to find the Dark Tower?”
“Wow. This is an honor. I mean, I see a lot of scum and mutants come through here. Especially since the world has moved on and all that, but to get Roland the gunslinger in here as a patient? That’s just crazy! I can’t wait to tell everyone that I actually met you.”
“You’re looking pretty rough, Roland. I guess this questing gig must be a bitch. So what I can help you with?”
“Well, I got my hand and my foot kind of torn up.”
“Holy man Jesus, Roland! That damn hand is mangled, dude! And your foot isn’t much better. What happened? Did the man in black do this to you? Or were you jumped by demons?”
“Actually, it was a creature that came out of the ocean and attacked me on a beach.”
“Was it like some kind of giant mutant magic alligator? Because you are fucked up, son.”
“No, it was kind of a weird lobster/prawn/scorpion creature.”
“That’s nasty! How big was it? Like the size of a horse? Bigger?”
“No, like a dog.”
“Just dog sized? How big a dog?”
“Uh…I’m not sure. Like a good sized collie, maybe?”
“Well, I’ll bet there was a bunch of them, right? Like a couple of dozen?”
“No. I mean, there’s lots of them on the beach at night, but it was just one that did this.”
“One lobster monster did all this? Why didn’t you just shoot it?”
“My guns and shells got all wet and wouldn’t fire.”
“Oh, that explains it. You must have been like in the ocean fighting off a giant squid thing or sea mutants or pirate demons, right? Then your guns got all wet and when you dragged yourself out of the water, this damn lobster-whatever came up on your blind side, right?”
“Uh, not exactly. I fell asleep on the beach and then the tide came in. That’s when my guns and bullets got soaked. Then when I was trying to wake up and get out of the water, the lobster-whatsis came over and started biting me.”
“Let me get this straight. You’re Roland, the last gunslinger. The baddest mother walking Mid-World. A guy who has slaughtered entire towns and hordes of evil mutants. The man we’re counting on to get to the Dark Tower (whatever the hell it is) and save us all. But you got your ass handed to you by one dog sized creepy crawlie because you fell asleep on a beach and let your guns get wet? Is that what you’re saying?”
After the strange introduction in The Gunslinger, this is where the series really hooked me. Roland has enough answers to get on the path to the Tower as he's reached the ocean, but he's badly injured after being attacked by a psycho lobster. Following what he was told in the last book, Roland manages to travel up the beach and locates literal doors to another world, our world. (Or at least a version pretty close to our world.)
Behind one door is Eddie Dean from the ‘80s, a heroin junkie in big trouble with the cops and the mob. The second one has Odetta Holmes, a rich black woman in the early ‘60s who doesn’t let the loss of her legs prevent her from being involved in the civil rights movement. But Odetta has a pretty big bat in her belfry. The final door unlocks a person with a sinister dark side. The increasingly sick Roland will have to hop between worlds to save the ones he’s been told will be his new companions that he’ll need to reach the Dark Tower.
While the first volume had kind of a dreamy and surreal quality to it, this second book is all tense action with a more grounded vibe thanks to the trips to a world the reader recognizes. What really stands out in this one is that we get another idea of just how committed Roland is to reaching the Tower. Injured, sick and dying, Roland pushes forward on sheer willpower and the extent of his obsession frightens the people he meets.
Even a junkie like Eddie can see that Roland is hooked worse than he is on a different kind of drug:
“There are people who need people to need them. The reason you don’t understand is because you’re not one of those people. You’d use me and toss me away like a paper bag if that’s what it came down to. God fucked you, my friend. You’re just smart enough that it would hurt you to do that, and just hard enough so you’d go ahead and do it anyway. You wouldn’t be able to help yourself. If I was lying on that beach there and screaming for help, you’d walk over me if I was between you and your goddamn Tower.“
Stephen King ended the third book in the Dark Tower series on a wicked cliffhanger in 1991. By 1994 my patience had grown thin, especially after King...moreStephen King ended the third book in the Dark Tower series on a wicked cliffhanger in 1991. By 1994 my patience had grown thin, especially after King had delivered 787 pages of pure crap with Insomnia. Even worse was that he actually had the nerve to tease some of the DT stuff in that overstuffed abomination. I was relatively sure that King was sitting on pile of money somewhere and laughing at me as he wrote page after page that was NOT the fourth DT book.
So in October of ‘94 when I read that King was going to make an appearance in Manhattan, Kansas, as part of a cross-country motorcycle tour he was doing to promote independent bookstores, I scored a ticket and then drove over two hours to confront that rat bastard. However, my plan to demand the next book in a fierce voice of righteous indignation was derailed when one of the first things King* said was that he’d save someone a question, and that he was very close to starting the next Dark Tower. He also told us that it would definitely be a tale of Roland’s past. The crowd cheered. Three years later after suffering through Rose Madder and Desperation, we’d finally get Wizard & Glass.
* King’s appearance in an auditorium on the K-State campus had several hundred people in it, and it took place on a foggy night. When he took the stage, King noted that it was spooky weather, like one of his novels. Then he started speculating that it was the kind of night that a homicidal escapee from a mental asylum might be running around in. The crowd laughed. King continued that the maniac was probably out in the parking lot, checking cars to see if any were unlocked. The crowd loved it. Stephen King was telling us a creepy story on a foggy October night. How cool was that? King kept talking, adding details about the maniac and the knife he picked up somewhere. The crowd grew a bit uneasy but was still chuckling.
Then Uncle Steve started in on asking us if we were sure, REALLY sure, that we had locked our cars. You thought you did, but do you actually remember doing it? By then, the crowd had fallen silent. By the time King described the maniac finding an unlocked car, everyone was on the edge of their seat. Say what you will about the man, he took a brightly lit auditorium full of laughing cheering people and creeped the living shit out of everyone in it in about two minutes. And when I left, I checked my backseat before getting it, and I wasn’t the only one in the parking lot who did.
So I was more than a little anxious to read this when it was finally published in 1997. I was delighted that King delivered a thrilling and satisfying outcome to the cliffhanger that had me on pins and needles for six goddamn years. I was even more thrilled when the gunslingers crossed from Mid-World to Topeka since I’m a Kansan, and we don’t get a lot of fiction set here. The idea that a Dark Tower novel was going to at least partially take place in my neck of the woods had me bouncing in my chair as I read. It was even cooler when the Topeka that Roland and company were in was apparently the Topeka from The Stand, my favorite King novel.
When Roland and his friends headed east on I-70, I remembered the ‘94 tour, and I realized that King had very probably been inspired by his motorcycle ride after that appearance when he had told us that he’d be starting the new book soon. I theorized that I’d seen the man himself the night before he’d taken that drive and probably come up with that scene. It felt like I’d been near the blast zone of his inspiration, and I got a remarkable kick out of that.
And then the whole book went to hell.
This was several years before George Lucas would impart his painful lesson to all of us regarding prequels, and King made some of the same mistakes first. Fifteen year old Roland has been sent out of Gilead to a rural community called Majis by his father along with his friends Cuthbert and Alain after passing his early manhood test. We’d already gotten glimpses of a very young Roland in The Gunslinger so setting a tale shortly after this didn’t really tell us anything new about Roland's history.
Plus, King decided that Roland needed a tragic love story in his background so most of the book is filled with the young passion of the gunslinger and Susan Delgado, a beautiful girl who has agreed to be a kind of concubine to the mayor. Roland and his friends stumble across a conspiracy among the locals to help John Farson, the leader of a the opposition of a civil war that is distracting everyone to the larger problem of how time and space have started going adrift in Roland’s world.
If King wanted to do a flashback novel, I would have much preferred to get more information about any of the many other numerous events that he only touched on or teased in the rest of the books. (Like the Battle of Jericho Hill for example.) Instead, we get a drawn out cat-and-mouse game between Roland and a failed gunslinger as he and Susan sneak around to see each other on the sly.
I probably wouldn’t have been quite so disappointed if King hadn’t gone and done the one thing I can’t forgive: he incorporated The Wizard of Oz into the ending.
I HATE the goddamn Wizard of Oz.
It’s a Kansas thing. When you’re from here and particularly when you had a job where you traveled a lot and every single freaking person you meet has to say things like, “Oh, I guess you’re not in Kansas anymore! Yuk yuk!” or “Where’s Toto? Yuk yuk!” and then you spend a couple of nights in jail for punching some of those fucktards in the throat…. Well, let’s just say you tend to flip through the movie when you see it on TV.
So my Wizard and Glass experience went kind of like this:
- “It’s finally here!
- Wow, that was awesome!
-Holy shit! It’s Topeka!
- Holy shit! It’s Topeka from The Stand! Even better!
-Oh, flashback time. We’re going to see younger Roland whip some ass and get some answers.
- Back to I-70 outside of Topeka. Maybe this is getting back on track.
- Wait…. No… Seriously. The Wizard of Oz??…. Really? I mean, I know it’s Kansas, but that’s all you could come up with….For fuck’s sake you aren’t really going to have the goddamn dog put on ruby shoes too are you? Oh, you are. Suck my….”
And then I had to wait another six goddamn years for the next book.(less)
*sniff* Oh, you surprised me. Is it time for the review? Just a second. What? Crying? Me? Don’t be ridiculous. I was just ….uh…chopping some onions….....more*sniff* Oh, you surprised me. Is it time for the review? Just a second. What? Crying? Me? Don’t be ridiculous. I was just ….uh…chopping some onions…..and I’ve got a cold….then somebody broke into my kitchen and pepper sprayed me….I certainly wouldn’t be shedding a few manly tears over a Stephen King novel, would I? Oh, fine. You spend almost twenty years reading this series and tell me you got through the conclusion without a lump in your throat. Liar.
Roland and his posse of gunslingers have to wrap up their business on Earth so they can get back to Mid-World. In our world, they’ll have to safeguard the rose in New York by founding a corporation dedicated to its protection, some of them will have to battle a very nasty nest of vampires and low men, and Susannah has to give birth to something that is supposed to be the end of all of them. The ones who can make it back to Mid-World will have to launch a desperate attack against overwhelming odds to stop the Crimson King’s breakers from destroying one of the last Beams holding the Tower and all of reality in place, and if they survive that, there’s a Very Important Person who still needs saving.
The Dark Tower series was written in fits and starts by King from the time he was in college to wrapping up the whole thing in a three book burst following his close encounter with a minivan. He didn’t always know where it was going, he littered many of his other books with DT tie-in stories, and he famously claimed for years not to know how it would end. So the series as whole isn’t the most tightly plotted thing you’ll ever read, and at the end King focused on delivering on the emotional journey rather than trying to wrap up every loose end he had hanging out there.
He chose wisely.
I consider this King’s flawed masterpiece. Some have focused on the ‘flawed’ part of that. I chose to dwell on the ‘masterpiece’ side of the equation. I’ll go a little more in depth on that in this spoiler section, but for any newbies not reading that, I’ll just say that all the years waiting between books turned out to be worth it.
The biggest let down to me in this was that the whole Modred thing was so anti-climatic. His birth was a huge focus in the final three books, yet in the end all he managed to do was send poor Oy to a grisly death.
In fact, there’s precious little satisfaction to be found in any the endings of the major villains. Modred was dying of food poisoning anyhow. Oy spoils his attack and Roland dispatches him with ease. The Crimson King is just crazy old man on a balcony throwing bombs around, and he gets taken out by a pencil eraser wielded by a kid with no tongue.
Maybe worst of all was the ending of Randall Flagg a/k/a Walter a/k/a Martin. This one was especially galling because not only had he been Roland’s nemesis, he’d been a boogeyman in King’s books for years. Yet he gets eaten by Modred the baby. That sucked.
I’m still not sure about King writing himself into the story either. I don’t think he did it out of ego because he made himself look pretty awful overall, but at some point after his accident, I think he couldn’t separate what he’d gone through from the story it inspired him to finally finish. It didn’t ruin the series for me, but I kind of wish he’d come up with something else.
Having gotten that out of my system, let’s proceed to:
I loved the whole concept of the Tet Corporation, and I continue to hope that someday King will give us a book detailing its war against N. Central Positronics and Sombra. I could have read several more chapters regarding that piece.
The character deaths were incredibly well done and still painful the third time through this. We’ve known since Roland let Jake fall into the abyss in The Gunslinger that this quest to find the Dark Tower would cost Roland dearly, but I was not prepared for how high the price turned out to be.
Which brings us to my favorite part, the ending. The idea that Roland has been stuck in an endless cycle of climbing the Tower only to find himself back at the beginning of the series seems kind of obvious in retrospect, but caught me completely by surprise. As King noted in the afterword, it’s not a happy ending, but it’s the right ending. I agree with that. Roland’s ultimate damanation wasn’t that he sacrificed his friends to get to the Tower, it’s that he risked the Tower again by pressing on to satisfy his own obsession to see it after it had already been saved that puts him in his own personal hell.
I also like how that sneaky bastard King made us all complicit with Roland’s fate. By offering us the chance to opt out and leave the book knowing that Roland reached the Tower and that Susannah was reunited with Eddie and Jake in another version of New York, King made us all Roland by proxy. We couldn’t resist. We had to know what was in the Tower. And when we find out, we all share Roland’s fate of going back to the beginning. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I read this a few years back and felt the urge to revisit it after Lev Grossman cited it as a big influence on The Magicians. I’d forgotten how funny...moreI read this a few years back and felt the urge to revisit it after Lev Grossman cited it as a big influence on The Magicians. I’d forgotten how funny and sad it is at times. And I’d really forgotten how Mr. Norrell made me completely nuts while reading about him.
I’ve read books with evil characters who were serial killers or rapists or tortured small animals, but I don’t think anyone bothers me as much as Norrell. I mean, the guy buys all the freaking BOOKS and won’t let anyone else read them. And it’s not even that he’s trying to ban books. HE wants to read them, he just doesn’t want anyone else to see them, and keeps them locked away from everyone else. That should be a crime against humanity.
I’m impressed with this alternate history of England as fantasy with the inclusion of the magical Raven King as a historical reality, and the efforts of Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange to bring back ’good English magic’ long after the Raven King had vanished. It’s got a great and inventive use of magic, and the overall storyline of Norrell and Strange as first master and pupil, and then rivals is a classic one.
The details of a day in the life of England circa 1800 seem very plausible, and the depiction of the class differences are very well done. If I’d have been a ‘gentleman’s’ servant in those times, I don’t think I would have lasted ten minutes without punching one of the prissy, uptight pompous jackasses right in the throat.
However, I was a little disappointed in the climax, and it seems like the story could have been much shorter. Maybe it would have lost some of the depth, but I found the constant going back to horrible plight of Stephen and Lady Pole overkill. And did Strange have to go to war twice?
Still a great read with memorable characters and a unique way of approaching magic and the supernatural.(less)
Very funny. I didn't like it quite as much as some other Moore books like Lamb, Fool, or Bloodsucking Fiends, but still good for a lot of laughs. Love...moreVery funny. I didn't like it quite as much as some other Moore books like Lamb, Fool, or Bloodsucking Fiends, but still good for a lot of laughs. Loved the Old Man Coyote character.(less)
A quick and easy way to describe this would be to call it Harry Potter for adults. There's a magic school and a lot more sex and booze than poor old H...moreA quick and easy way to describe this would be to call it Harry Potter for adults. There's a magic school and a lot more sex and booze than poor old Harry ever had. But that doesn't do it justice because this was an extremely original and unique twist on the notion of what it would be like to actually live in a world where magic and fantasy realms exist.
Quentin Coldwater is a bored teenager getting ready to apply for college but is already seriously disillusioned with his life and wishes things were more like his favorite fantasy novels set in a land called Fillory, which is essentially the author's stand-in for Narnia. However, Quentin quickly learns that he's got magical talent, and he's suddenly attending a training academy called Brakebills.
Quentin is the kind of guy who after finding out he won a huge lottery would instantly start bitching about how bad the taxes will be. Even though he's always longed for a world closer to his Filory novels, he never sees the adventure he's living by learning magic and all the things that go into his training. Learning magic and even falling in love don't make him happy, and he holds onto the childish idea that there's some 'next place' that will finally make him complete.
To make matters worse, once he and his friends graduate, they learn that there's no real need for magic since there are no big magical threats so they use their talents to live fat and easy while partying too much and trying to entertain themselves. Until an old classmate appears with the news that Filory is real.
There's three big things at work in this book. The idea that magic is real, and the author put a great deal of effort into developing the idea of magic in the real world with specific rules. The second is that the idea of journeying to a magical land on some kind of quest would be a fun adventure is actually pretty naive when you consider how actually bloody and insane the kind of things described would be. (Think about what it would REALLY be like to have some kind of half-human/half-beast run at you with a sword.) The third (and most interesting) is that a young man with a world of possibilities in front of him would find himself disappointed with life because it isn't like an adventure story and his stubborn refusal to realize that life will never be like a fantasy novel even if he eventually makes it to an actual fantasy world.
Fast-paced, funny, sometimes tragic and always entertaining, this was a book that I really enjoyed for it's offbeat way of looking at magic and fantasy stories.(less)
I now want a paper gnome sidekick after reading this story where mythological beasts are real, and there are cryptobiological agents to deal with them...moreI now want a paper gnome sidekick after reading this story where mythological beasts are real, and there are cryptobiological agents to deal with them. (Think animal control for yetis.) A young slacker woman gets involved and disaster ensues.
At the 3/4 mark on this, I was getting bored and this was headed for 2 stars. This story of official agents who deal with the strange has been done to death in recent years, the humor wasn't that funny and the entire story seemed to consist of one magical animal attack after another against Monster and Judy.
However, the ending veered a bit from the usual story of an overwhelmed novice facing the ultimate evil. I don't want to spoil it, but there was actually a pretty clever and original premise lurking in the overall storyline. Plus, I liked the paper gnome Chester. So it redeemed itself a lot in the end. (less)
Ever read a book and find yourself thinking, "This is pretty good, but it could have been face-melting awesome."? This is one of those books for me. I...moreEver read a book and find yourself thinking, "This is pretty good, but it could have been face-melting awesome."? This is one of those books for me. I really liked it, but found myself picking some serious nits while reading it.
Stark was a magician (a real magician, not a sawing-a-woman-in-half kind) who was madly in love with his girlfriend Alice when he was betrayed by another magician named Mason and some others. Mason managed to send Stark to hell, but as a living person, not a dead soul.
11 years later, Stark learns that Alice has been murdered on Earth by Mason and his pals. Determined to get revenge, Stark breaks out of hell with a magical key that allows him to access almost any point in any dimension. His stay in hell has made him supernaturally tough with an extremely bad attitude, but he soon runs across various angels, demons, monsters, alchemists, magicians, Nazi skin-heads and porn shop owners that he has to deal with as he learns that there may be something much bigger than his revenge at stake.
This had a great concept with a lot of original ideas and some terrific action. Mixing magic with various weapons, including shotguns, makes for some awesome carnage when thing really get rolling.
However, for the first 250 pages or so, Stark just comes across as an unlikeable asshole who blunders about warning his enemies he's back and generally getting his ass kicked. (I've noticed a common factor among supernatural characters like Harry Dresden or Joe Pitt that three-quarters of the books seem to consist of them getting beaten to a pulp by various beasties and this book continues that trend.) The first half of this book consists mainly of Stark complaining about all the clothes he's ruined by getting repeatedly abused.
The author has a bad habit of having Stark do stupid things, that he acknowledges as stupid, just to advance the plot and it's just chalked up to him being 'impulsive'. Plus, there are some serious logic gaps. Stark can access any point in any dimesion with his supernatural key. Yet, he seems to prefer stealing cars. And when he needs to dispose of a body, he steals yet another car and thinks about how many chances he's taking as he drops the body in the La Brea tar pits. Why wouldn't he just use the key and take the body to Antartica or the middle of the Amazon and just dump it? It doesn't help that he uses the key about 5 seconds after dumping the body.
However, the ending redeemed this book a lot. When the action finally starts, it gets massive in scale and imaginative in how weapons and magic could be blended. Stark become a bad-ass anti-hero instead of a whining jerk, and the ending sets up a lot of possibilities. I hope future ones are more like the second half of the book and less like the first half.
Oh, and for you Donald Westlake fans, the main character's name is Stark and one of the bad guys is named Parker. Get it?
Good but typical Constantine collection that features our favorite English magician/con man dealing with his first real girlfriend in years, an outbre...moreGood but typical Constantine collection that features our favorite English magician/con man dealing with his first real girlfriend in years, an outbreak of magical fungal growth over his torso, some ghosts from the Black Plague, and A Very Special John Constantine Christmas. It's as messed up as you'd expect it to be.(less)
So this is one of those books that I really wanted to love but to my great disappointment ended up being just OK. It’s got Albert Einstein, Charlie Ch...moreSo this is one of those books that I really wanted to love but to my great disappointment ended up being just OK. It’s got Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, time travel, ghosts, psychic links, astral projection, Israeli spies and a secret evil organization. So what’s not to love?
In its defense I’ll admit that I probably wasn’t in a good frame of mind for something like this. I’ve been distracted by a couple of things, and it’s that glorious time of year where for 10 days in the spring and fall I can go outside without either freezing to death or collapsing from heat exhaustion.
All of which is just to say that I had a really hard time sitting down and focusing on this and this is the kind of story that demands and rewards focus. Maybe if it’d been a bit more engaging I would have found the groove and got into it more, or maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood. Probably a bit of both.
Anyhow, I did enjoy the whole idea of Albert Einstein’s secret discoveries being hunted by opposing sides that use a mix of the occult and weird science, but I would have liked more of that and less of the story of Frank Marrity and his daughter getting caught in the crossfire.
Unique with a lot of nifty ideas, but it just didn’t knock my socks off. (less)
John Constantine is in love. Isn’t that sweet? Uh….no. Anyone familiar with the real Constantine and not the pathetic abomination that Kenau Reeves in...moreJohn Constantine is in love. Isn’t that sweet? Uh….no. Anyone familiar with the real Constantine and not the pathetic abomination that Kenau Reeves inflicted on us in the movie theaters would know that anytime the English magician gets close to someone, really bad things happen. Especially after Constantine gets dumped and decides that he needs to use a love potion on his now ex-girlfriend.
I had a problem with this one. Constantine has always been a cocky self-absorbed manipulator who has left a trail of human wreckage in his wake, but this is the first time that I remember him knowingly do something that’s just wrong and dangerous for a silly reason like getting jilted. And of course it ends in total disaster. Plus, there’s also a scene that indicates that John would just run out on his friend Chas and leave him to die as part of the same cause.
I’m OK with Constantine being a complete bastard, but he usually has a reason you can relate to. This time, I just found myself disgusted with him. There’s a bit of a cliffhanger and things are never what they seem in Constantine’s world so I’m hoping there’s some kind of explanation as to why a bad-ass English sorcerer would act like a teen-ager who didn’t get invited to the prom.(less)