Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A Final Update: The Dark Tower

And finally, it is done. No more mystery. No more adventures with Roland and his ka-tet. No more Mid-World.

The bitterest of bittersweet endings...though not in the way you'd normally anticipate, so I'm not really giving you anything.

King has really outdone himself. He created a mythology that was both familiar and yet compelling in his originality. If you'll allow me to drift a bit toward overstatement, one could try to argue that King reinvents the quest epic with this series. This is admittedly a bit of a leap, since the quest epic defies reinvention--it is what it is. And similarly, the old adage still applies: the joy is in the journey.

But, as King shows in this story, the pain's in the journey, too. And the pain of this journey is just as definitive.

The way it ends... again, don't worry, I won't spoil it for you. To do so would be a great disservice, worthy of bitter curses from those brave (foolhardy?) enough to undertake the 3800 page journey. But the way it ends seems like the only way you can really end this story. It is at the same time unjust and appropriate. Satisfying and disappointing.

This ambivalence is not really because of the ending itself, I think. A lot of what I am (still) feeling comes from the fact that this story, a story I have enjoyed on and off for years, is really over. Really. Over. And I don't want it to be. I want to beg sai King to spin another tale of Roland's youth, or Eddie's, or Susannah's, or Jake's. Hell, I'll even take a story about Oy the brave billy-bumbler. I want to plead with the Wordslinger to take another turn as New England's Scheherezade. But at the same time, I know he can't do that without taking away a lot of the magic of the tale.

I finished it and went to bed. I lay there for a while, thinking about it. I think the gunslinger's tale even crept into my dreams last night, though I can't remember more than a foggy image of men like trees walking. I tried to pick up another book this morning, and immediately dive into it, as is my practice. But I couldn't. I'm tired, but I don't think that's it.

Those who have read me for a while, or those who have read Amanda's page, are familiar with the idea of "post-novel depression." For those who aren't familiar, PND is the little bit of sadness you feel after finishing a good book and closing the pages. Knowing that it's the last "first time" to read the story. It probably sounds silly to those of you who aren't book lovers, but the rest of you are nodding your heads, keenly understanding what I mean.

Then imagine this, ye bibliophiles: all of your PND wrapped up in one single moment, when one of the best stories you've ever read is over. The elven boat chases the sunset toward the Grey Havens, and Sam lives the rest of his life in peace. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy rejoice as they step into Aslan's Country. The Lomans stand over Willy's grave. Sidney's gone to his far, far better place. All is quiet in Grover's Corners.

And you're left with the sadness of losing something akin to a friend, flown away on night wings.

Maybe this is too serious of an attitude to take toward some "stupid book." But it's how I feel, I say thankya.

The story's dead and done.
The Wordslinger's a-resting
In the setting of the sun.

The vision's all been seen
There's no more story left to tell
Or sorrow left to keen.

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