We were left hanging at the end of the last Dark Tower book. Stephen King wanted to bring a little suspense to that last novel and give some expectation to book four of the series. In Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, Book 4) we're thrust in right where we left off with Roland and Company aboard Blaine the Choo-Choo. It didn't start as a luxury trip and certainly didn't continue that way as the sped across the wastes. Where the ka-tet(the Gunslinger and his group) ends up is far from their intended destination. They're thrust into an alternate world that no one would be happy to call home.
It's in this alternate universe that Stephen King decides to take the readers back in time to one of the shaping moments in the Gunslingers past. Up until this point, the Dark Tower series has mentioned a few names and a few other tid-bits about the world before it passed on. We're now taken back to a young Roland with his original ka-tet of Alain and Cuthbert. It was a fresh look at Roland and how he became the Gunslinger he is today - even if it's just a small part of a big story. This flashback covers Roland's first love as well and the tragedy that befell them. In a lot of ways, knowing the background helps to strengthen the story going forward. Once you know the reason one acts they way they do you can build that character in a stronger way.
As for writing, Stephen King continues to write an incredible story. He does step off the deep end when it comes to sexuality and coarseness. I guess that I should have known that it would go there at some point, but three books in gave me a false sense of security. I'm assuming that some of this could have been transplanted into a harlequin novel and been right at home. For me, that didn't add much to the story. I could have used less of that and more explanation of the world and it's characters. Perhaps it's a little like the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. The American public didn't need to know any details other than that he had an affair and lied under oath about it. Anyhow, It's at this book that I don't know if I can fully recommend this series of books to other readers. I have thoroughly enjoyed the series and will finish it, but 50 pages or so could be eliminated. This is not a book series for every person.
Rating: 7 - excellent progression; equal action and suspense; can't recommend, but will finish the story