Fans of Stephen King are bound to know Wolves of the Calla as Stephen King’s fifth book in The Dark Tower series. For those not familiar with his body of works, The Dark Tower series is King’s epic adventure of one lone man out to save the world – or an infinity of worlds as the reader comes to find out. In the early books of the series, a timeless hero – Roland, the gunslinger – starts off alone in a near empty world. He draws together an unlikely group of heroes from different decades of our own world to help him find The Dark Tower, where the forces of time (and reality) have gone haywire. The first four books build on this gathering of Roland’s troop of friends, their characterizations and histories, and their progression towards the tower.
Book Five – Wolves of the Calla – is a temporary diversion on the path to The Dark Tower. A village along the way is in dire need of aide. The children of the village are often born as twins. Every few decades the Wolves come and take one of each twin of a certain age group. Later the children are returned, but changed (and not for the better). The villagers must choose to fight and die, or give up the children. They are given a warning by Andy, a wandering robot; the wolves will arrive within the month. As a gunslinger from the old world of Gilead, Roland is honor bound to help but only if the villagers choose his help.
With his friends and fellow gunslingers, Susannah, Eddie, Jake, and the billy-bumbler Oy, Roland spends time with the villagers, gets to know them, and pulls them along into his way of thinking. Most of the book is spent getting to know the characters of the village and finding ways to defeat the Wolves. Discovering unlikely heroes inside the village, along with their weapons of choice, was a major solution to Roland’s problem of being outnumbered by the Wolves. Time spent in the village is not a total waste from their primary goal of reaching the dark tower as the priest of the village, Father Callahan, wants them to take Black Thirteen, a powerful wizard’s globe, off his hands. Black Thirteen will unlock the doors to other worlds and if used with caution will help them in their future quest.
If you’re looking for action-packed drama, Wolves of the Calla probably won’t meet your needs. If you’re looking to spend a bit of time in a fantasy world with the suspense of worse horror to come, you should enjoy Wolves of the Calla. It follows a different pace than most of the series and follows several different tracks as the ka-tet (Roland and friends) go in and out of todash (travel) between worlds. There are personal problems mixed in among the angst of the Wolves, such as Susannah’s pregnancy with a demon-child, Jake’s transitions from a boy to a man, and secrets being kept among the group.
Wolves of the Calla is a bit rambling and long-winded for a Stephen King tale. With so many good books to read on the shelves, the time spent on one drawn out book could be the cause of so many negative reviews. For myself, I found it easy to pick up wherever I left off and dive right back into Roland’s world each time. King’s ability to draw the reader into the story is what makes him such a great story teller. If he doesn’t neatly tie up all the loose ends, my own imagination can take over from there. I recommend The Wolves of the Calla (if you have the time). Definitely read the other four books first - not necessarily for the plot, but to understand the characters. Without the earlier books, the characters will most likely fall flat. I’ve enjoyed the series and look forward to finishing all the books in The Dark Tower series.
I purchased my own hardback copy of Wolves of the Calla, as well as all of the books in the series, to enjoy. Below are links to both Wolves of the Calla and The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower Book One) on Amazon.