Jul 09, 12
Stephen King can really spin a yarn. I've always particularly loved it when he adopts the tone of fairy tales. He has a way of capturing the magic and the darkness that made the stories of most childhoods so enrapturing. He did this in The Eyes of the Dragon and he does it again in The Wind Through The Keyhole. The villains are monstrous and wily. The heroes are noble but flawed and have brilliant names like Tim Stoutheart. The world is...wow.
The Wind Through The Keyhole is a wonderful return to the world of Roland Deschain and his ka-tet. Now, I'm very familiar with Roland. I've read the Dark Tower series and adored it. However, I can see why the synopsis claims that you could enjoy this book even if you haven't ever visited the world of the gunslinger before. You don't really need much prior knowledge about Roland or his friends because of the way the book is structured.
The Wind Through The Keyhole begins with Roland and his gunslinger-pals seeking shelter from a ferocious storm. While they are hunkered down, Roland tells a story of his younger days which involves him telling a story to another young lad. So it's a story within a story within a story.** The two stories within the frame of Roland's larger narrative are what matter in this novel, so newbies shouldn't feel too put off.
The world in which the gunslinger lives has many echoes of our own, except it has "moved on". Technologies are failing (though some remain) and civilisation is becoming sparse. It's a world where science is dying and so magic is emerging once again. This is a world which is part post-apocalyptic wasteland, part spaghetti western and part Arthurian legend. Very few authors could weave such elements effectively and King is one of them.
If you're one of those people who casts negative aspersions on readers of the fantasy genre, then I recommend you give this book a go. It could be your "gateway" book! It will lead you to the magical darkness that is the journey to the Dark Tower. It will acquaint you with Roland Deschain, one of the most enjoyable protagonists I've ever come across. You'll fall in love. The only downside is that when reading on the bus, you'll have to hide your book inside a less shameful tome. Perhaps an issue of Jugs or Playboy...
** When one story is framed by another, the term is mise en abyme. This is pronounced "mize on ah beam". This made me chuckle. All things follow the path of the beam. (Book-related joke).