Rhiannon's Reviews > Wolves of the Calla

Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King
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's review
Mar 03, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: end-of-the-world, read-in-2011
Recommended to Rhiannon by: Uwdave
Recommended for: Fans of westerns, masochists
Read from March 03 to 15, 2011 , read count: 1

It is as though Stephen King:
1. Took me out to an arid, deserted sepia-toned no-place
2. Lit a sputtering campfire that quickly faded to embers
3. Handcuffed me
4. Sat me down Indian-style across from him
5. Proceeded to narrate to me in a hoarse, bored drawl over a series of three-to-four weeks the world's longest, most uninteresting story while my head lolled back, my lips grew dry with thirst, and my bum ached

If this book had been written by any writer other than Stephen King, it would never have been published. I firmly believe that an editor, or any discerning eye, never even glanced at this book.

I will say that the only redeeming storyline in this entire book is Don (Pere) Callahan's tale. In it, King writes some surprisingly beautiful prose. Callahan's tale - which is interspersed throughout the main storyline - moves in a pace that a story like this should move - like hurried steps on a Manhattan sidewalk, like a nervous glance backward as though someone might be following you. Because guess what? Someone is following you - me, the reader! And if I'm following your little ka-tet through the boring, desolate redneck wonderland of the Calla for 925 freakin' pages - you better move! However, how much does Callahan's story actually move the plot? Very little. It seems to serve two purposes: to reinforce coincidence as "ka," and as an example of the quality of writing of which King is capable, but which you, reader, are being denied throughout the rest of the narrative.

Besides the sheer grueling pace of this beast, I had a couple of serious problems with this particular book in the Dark Tower Series:

1. Speech Mannerisms: The language of the Calla is annoying. When Roland's ka-tet continue to use these annoying speech mannerisms in their own "palaver" - it comes off as completely ridiculous. Not to mention - exhausting for the reader.

2. Repetition: Certain tropes (Nineteen, for example) are repeated too often. It is bad writing, simply put. While I do not yet understand the "significance" of Nineteen, it has been implied that it is significant. So, so significant. Yawn.

3. Mia: Susannah already has three personalities. Giving her another one is simply a rehashing and reheating of King's own once-interesting characterizations.

So, if the pace is slow, the plot overdrawn, surely in 925 pages there is room for some serious character development, right? Wrong! Besides Jake Chambers doing a little "coming of age," the rest of the characters remain stagnant throughout the narrative - to the point where they seem like thoughtless renditions of themselves. Even Mia - a brand new personality! - is derivative of Susannah's older personalities and is largely uninteresting.

I will also say that I find the subplot of the Callahan's meta-fiction interesting. I find it easy to believe that a quest that traverses time/place/universes, can surely traverse the border between reality and fiction. This development of a fiction-bridging reality could be spectacular if done correctly. Or it could fall off, and go nowhere. I cannot say I have faith for the former.

My enjoyment of Callahan's tale is the only reason I gave this book more than one star.

That said - I won't give up now. Not with thousands of pages of this series already read. I mean, I have to get to that Tower. But, God, God God - I want to give up. God, this Wolves of The Calla book was long. I felt like I was reading it for nineteen years.
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Reading Progress

03/08/2011 page 576
62.0% ""You liked a little steam-table with your booze, in other words...""
03/09/2011 page 694
75.0% "...but a telltale red blush was climbing his cheeks."
03/09/2011 page 703
76.0% ""Now there's nothing but a single piece of paper with a name written upon it. If you can tell me what that name is, young man, I'll do what you ask." "It's Deschain," Eddie said."
03/10/2011 page 733
79.0% ""No weapons of super-science at work here.""
03/11/2011 page 791
86.0% "Good-natured laughter greeted this, then sputtered before it caught."
03/11/2011 page 836
90.0% "All my life I've had the fastest hands, but at being good i was always a little too slow"
03/11/2011 page 836
02/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Josiah (new)

Josiah The significance of 19 is that Allie said 19 to sheb in book 1, and that drove her insane.

If you can't remember a simple fact, I would recommend stopping the series.

message 2: by Rhiannon (last edited Aug 21, 2012 02:08PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rhiannon Hi Josiah! While I appreciate that you read my review and commented, I have to say that while "Allie said 19 to Sheb in book 1 and that drove her insane" is, in fact, a fact, it still does not explain what 19 signifies.

The number 19 does not make people insane when you say it out loud. Therefore, there must be something about what 19 signifies that makes it maddening, terrifying, or, you know, significant in any way. There is something about the significance of this number that has yet to be unveiled.

Meanwhile, readers have to hear about 19 every two-pages. King dangles it in front of us throughout the series without explaining what it actually means.


J.J. Rodeo Hi. I mostly felt the same way about the book. But I liked pere Callahan too much that I decided to ignore the terrible storytelling.

Rhiannon Hey J.J. - Good call: Callahan's story was too good to dismiss!

Tomas Chaigneau Haha, love this and couldn't agree more

Ashley Hutto You hit the nail on the head. You have me cracking up at the brutal honesty of this overview. This has been such a painful one to get through. BUT WE MUST CARRY ON. Say thankee!

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Completely disagree, though understand the sentiment, I got this feeling to some extent about wizard and glass, where they literally are just sitting at a campfire listening to a story for most of it, but then my view of that was coloured by my lack of interest in romance story lines, particularly when they are central to the story.

Paul Wiley I 100% agree on you assessment of this book.

message 9: by Curtis (new)

Curtis Lowton I'm at 32%. Where was the editor???? This is painful, but I'm determined to finish the series.

Cătălin It isn't THAT bad. For me Wizard and Glass was even boring than this. In this I can see the ka-tet moving more, not sitting and listening to a story that took 500+ pages. I had a lot of patience to finish Wizard and Glass, it took me like a week.
But I agree that the fourth and the fifth book are a little bit too dragged; the action is too slow and the storytelling too descriptive.
After I finish this I will have two more books, I hope they aren't written in the same way.

Chris I'm really enjoying it, the whole series for that fact. I'll admit it is a little slow moving from time to time but it's unfortunate that you're not big fans. I disagree totally, but to each their own.

Richard D Ott So far I like this book. I find Susannah's character very interesting.

message 13: by Rob (new) - rated it 2 stars

Rob Dip I am struggling to find a reason to finish this part of the Dark tower series. Thank you for your insightful review, I found it identical to my train of thought.

message 14: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike I agree with Rhiannon.After a perfect novel like Wizard and Glass,Wolves of the calla is a letdown.To long,to chaotic,sometimes boring (a rarity for a King novel).Still I think two stars is to harsh,I give it three.

ironicinori While I agree with your review and feel almost the same way. Your point #2 is assuming too much. The overuse of tropes is in there for a very specific reason, far beyond just making you think "oooh another 19, what could it mean". Hard to explain without major spoilers, but I'm assuming you've read the rest by now :P

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