The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla opened a journey that finally gave some single-minded purpose to an aimless cast of characters. It is about time, as the previous volume found the oddball foursome sitting on their hands and twiddling their thumbs. Even the previous volumes had Eddie, Susannah, and Jake confused to all hell. It firmly develops this complexity and nuance with the characters, reminding me primarily of Under the Dome. King excels at making interesting characters in a
This fifth volume firmly develops a complexity and nuance with the lead characters. But, it also handedly develops the second-tier cast in intriguing ways, reaffirming the small village with morally ambiguous characters, reminding me primarily of Under the Dome. King excels at making interesting characters in a smalltown setting (which Wizard and Glass could have been if it was more compelling, tightened up, and didn’t take away from the main plot.
Wolves of the Calla did one thing incredibly well- it managed to tell this largely standalone story of the gunslingers doing their job.It was actually a fascinating character story because every character was going through seismic growth in this volume. Despite the fact that it fell a bit flat with the consequences being marginal at worst. It developed the characters tremendously. Consider the brevity and involvement of Pere in this volume, as he began the book as a non-entity and ended it as a formidable force with range.
The flaws start with the nebulous and mysterious Randall Flagg, a staple in the Stephen King ethos. I really think Flagg should have had a major presence here and killed a main character (giving him a larger presence and upping the threat as the story tensed). The rise in tension and seriousness of it all was a major theme in Wolves. I feel like this is such an obvious development, that I am shocked it didn’t happen as I write it here.
Overall, Wolves was quite strong, probably my second favorite in the series. It falls to some basic King fallacies, such as bloat and developing minor characters without any resolution. But, its standalone nature and dynamic character development was very much needed for the three main non-Roland characters. Perhaps interestingly, Wolves may be the only volume in the series that could stand on its own, with some minor edits to the front and the back to establish the characters and offer closure, respectively.