Not at all what I was expecting. I think a lot of the negativity is coming from people who expected this to further elaborate on the story of Roland's final tet and their quest to the Tower, but, honestly, that story's been told, and I'd not add a single thing to it. Wind
is instead a story within a story within a story, all brilliantly nested within one another. In many ways, this story reminds me of The Eyes of the Dragon and fans of that story will find much to like here. The fairy tale that Roland tells in the midst of his remembrance, and which forms the bulk of the novel, has all the Campbellian elements of the Hero's Journey and there's not much innovation or deviation from the formula. Even if that's the case there are more than a couple things here that Tower fans are sure to love: the story of young Tim Ross's journey into manhood after the death of his father is stirring and so much like a fairy tale, you could read it to your kids. I mean fairy tale fantasy in the best of ways too - in many ways it had a lot of the same feeling as Harry Potter for me. The fairy tale itself, as well as Roland's reminiscences, greatly expand upon the mythology and folklore of Mid-World and Gilead that was. There are familiar references to technology and stories of long, long ago that place Roland's tale within a much larger context. In short, a few more pages of history are constructed in here that are pleasant for long-time and devoted fans of the series. I also think this volume would serve well as a stand-alone. I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point for people in the series, but if you weren't interested in reading all of the Tower cycle, certainly the tale of Tim Ross is worth it for a quick and light read. I'm hesitant to even call this book 4.5. Yes, the story begins between the leaving of the Emerald City and their arrival in Calla bin Sturgis, but to fully appreciate all the references and foreshadowing King makes, you really need to finish the series first. In fact, I thought that several references to the Crimson King could have been spoilerish and were better left as afterthoughts. In many ways, I liken it to the Star Wars prequels. Whatever value those crappy movies have they have for answering questions the viewer generates when watching the original series. You'd never, EVER watch them in their chapter order. But that, is a story for another day...
King's narration is rhythmic and Roland's voice comes through like an old campfire host who treats the tales he tells with the utmost sanctity and reverence. That feeling of awe comes right through to the reader and I have to say that the narration didn't seem as awkward to me as in Eyes of the Dragon
, in which I was painfully aware of King's normal modern narration in a somewhat disaffected "fantasy" voice. In Wind
, I felt none of the pretense, and it suited me fine. The novel is short for King, especially for a Tower novel, but it felt just right and I was thoroughly satisfied, which in my mind says a lot since I've been looking forward to this book for so long I feared that I had unrealistic expectations before I even cracked the cover. Don't listen to the naysayers, this one is worth it.