I'll admit it. I love the Dark Tower series and all of the other stories that touch those worlds. I've missed Roland and his band of Gunslingers. When I heard King was writing another DT story, I nearly cheered aloud. I definately did a jersey shore fist pump (in private). Since the original 7 books were neatly wrapped up in The Dark Tower, I was very curious when and where this new story would fit into the series. We learned early on that it would fit in between Wizard and Glass and The Wolves of the Calla. Perfect place for more stories IMHO. The time between the Emerald City and Calla Bryn Sturgis was barely mentioned in the original books. Jake especially, was a completely different person at the beginning of DT 5. Suffice it to say, I was really stoked to get my copy of The Wind Through the Keyhole.
First, I'll say that I collect books. Especially King books. I have lots of first editions, signed editions, limiteds and rare hardcovers. I purchased 2 artist editions and 1 signed limited edition of the Grant hardcover Wind. Limited is signed and numbered by King and Jae Lee (the artist), artist editions only signed by Lee. They are beautiful books. After removing the dust jackets, the books themselves are specially bound in extra heavyweight paper with the covers made of a material that almost feels like snakeskin. Grant makes goregeous limiteds and these are not exceptions.
Jae Lee is the artist that draws the Dark Tower comics. He is extremely talented and the illustrations in Wind are excellent. I was a bit concerned when they announced that he was the artist, but my concern was unfounded. Beautiful drawings that completely fit with the story.
Now for the story. There may be some mild spoilers coming up. If you don't like that sort of thing, I suggest you don't read on.
The Wind Through the Keyhole is a story within a story. The structure of the tale is simillar to Wizard and Glass. Our band of travellers stop to wait out a bad storm and Roland tells them another story of his youth. Roland and Jamie de Curry (yes, we finally meet him in person) are sent on a mission by Roland's Dad to investigate somethign called a skin man (shapeshifter). Actually, the majority of the book (about 75 percent) is young Roland recalling a story that his mother told him as a child. My favorite parts of Wind were the inner story, about a boy named Tim. New characters (and some old friends) fill the narrative. If I had hoped in the beginning to learn more about Jake's training or other adventures before the Calla, I quickly forgot about it. We learn some new stuff about Oy and there was some minor expanding of Jake's character, almost necessary to bridge the abrupt gap between DT 4 and 5, but that's all. Perhaps there will be more stories in the future about Roland's last Ka-Tet, but this one was all about the past.
The style of writing and the dialogue dropped me perfectly back into Mid World. The book didn't feel out of place or different than the others. I loved getting more insight into Roland's feelings about killing his mother (since this takes place shortly after we leave young Roland in DT 4) and his relationship with his father. The inner story about Tim was a facinating look at life in Mid World before it had moved on (much). Dragons, Wizards, Muties and more fill the pages. King is excellent at writing children and Tim is no exception. Brave and stupid, a very fitting hero. Since we ultimately know that Roland continues on with his current friends, there aren't many surprises here, there can't be. The inner stories end happily ever after or close enough to it to be satisfing, but that's not really the point. The Dark Tower series has taught us that the journey is more important than the conclusion, and Wind is no exception to that rule.
I loved the book. It drew me in and didn't let go. Read the whole thing in less than 2 days. It made me want to re-read the entire series (for the hundredth time). I hope there are more DT stories in the future. King indicates that "The Wind Through the Keyhole" is only one story from The Great Elden Book, "a fine and terrible compendium that may someday merit publication of its own, as those stories cast light on Mid-World as it once was." Sounds good to me.
Please, constant readers, buy The Wind Through the Keyhole as soon as you can. If you can't get the artist edition from Grant, the regular edition will be out April 24, hardcover, e-book and audiobook.