Warning: This post contains minor spoilers from books that came out about 10 years ago. If you are strictly spoiler free on The Dark Tower and Harry Potter this is not the post for you.
I started reading The Harry Potter series during a trying time in my life. It was 2006, and all of the books had been released but the last one. Harry & co. were pretty constant companions during that time. I was easily able to get used copies of the first five, waited a while but finally got the 6th, and pre-ordered the 7th one to arrive at my house on release day like every other muggle I knew. I sat on a blanket under the holly tree in my back yard and read the whole thing at once. I loved the series, when it came to the ending I was underwhelmed.
Eventually I decided to re-read the Harry Potter series. I re-read them twice actually - once for each time I was pregnant. There's something about Harry Potter that suits the mind numbing exhaustion of pregnancy. Then my kids were born, and I began to rely on audiobooks. That's when I met Jim Dale, and listened to the whole series again. Somewhere along the way I changed my mind. I decided that the ending was amazing. It just took me a few reads to slow down, and realize how it all fit together.
I'm not sure what made me go back and re-read a series when I knew I didn't like the ending. But it's reflection on Harry Potter that made me go back and start re-reading Stephen King's Dark Tower Series.
During my misspent youth I used to steal my Dad's Stephen King books, and hide them under my pillow to read late at night. He must have eventually caught me, but I don't think he was mad. (The Stand isn't really suitable for hiding under a pillow.) He even suggested that if I really wanted to read something amazing by Stephen King I should check out The Dark Tower. There were only four books at the time, but he said they were worth reading even if they were unresolved. Being of an age where I wasn't prone to take my dad's advise I didn't pick them up right away.
A few years later I was lonely while studying abroad, and picked up a copy of The Gunsliger at an Oxfam shop. I read the first four books while in England, and waiter eagerly for King to write and release the last three. I have a vivid memory of getting up early the day after my wedding so I could go outside and read Song of Susannah. Like Harry Potter, I got the last installment of the series on the day it came out and read it all in one huge gulp. When I finally got to the end I threw the book across the room. Then I picked it up to make sure I hadn't missed something. Then I threw it again.
My reaction to the ending was so violent that I'm amazed that I had the emotional energy to start reading the Harry Potter series just a few years later. Who knows, maybe that's why I put off reading Harry Potter when everyone else in the world was. When a book breaks your heart, you don't easily set yourself up to let it get broken again.
Last year I realized that just like with the ending to Harry Potter, my tendency to binge read might have made me miss the true genius of The Dark Tower series. So I started again. I made my way through the first four - the original books my Dad had told me about. Then I took a break before I started the last three. I finished Wolves of the Calla last week.
I forgive you Stephen King. I haven't yet gotten to the end of the series in this re-read, but I forgive you. The way you weave in the early 2000's into this book while remaining true to the original characters amazed me. Your world building and weaving ways astound me. Even knowing what's coming I am impressed. I'll keep reading with an open mind and a glad heart, and I promise not to throw anything when I get to the ending this time.
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