In his famous series, The Dark Tower, Stephen King has so far divided his time between assembling a posse of unlikely gunslingers and paying homage to his literary heroes like Tolkien and Sergio Leone. In Song of Susannah, King shifts gears and instead begins to wrap up Roland’s quest to find the Dark Tower.
Susannah is pregnant. Her child’s, or “chap’s,” father is at once Roland and a demon. Both the Crimson King and the Man in Black have made plans — and deals — regarding the possession of the chap after it’s born. Unfortunately, Susannah is largely unaware of these arrangements because Mia, a new personality, has taken over their mind. Mia takes both Susannah’s body and their chap to another dimension, away from Roland and the gunslingers.
The ka-tet try to pursue Mia, but the magic of Mid-World exerts a will of its own. Jake, Father Callaghan, and Oy are sent after Mia, who is guarded by the Crimson King’s “low men.” Meanwhile, heavy hitters Roland and Eddie are sent to Maine. The year is 1977 and author Stephen King, who is thinking about writing a novel about a gunslinger, is in trouble. However, first Roland and Eddie will have to face off against Eddie’s old foes, the drug dealer Enrico Balazar and his henchmen.
Song of Susannah is arguably the weakest of King’s Dark Tower novels. If The Waste Lands expanded Roland’s quest to nigh-impossible-to-overcome levels, King does his best in Song of Susannah to show that even the most daunting of problems can be overcome with the help of incredible providence, authorial intervention, and uncanny gunslinger instincts. It’s a strategy that dominates King’s later work, and one that some readers will feel betrays the originality of earlier novels like The Gunslinger and The Wizard and the Glass.
However, as with Wolves of the Calla, even the strongest critics should take note that few readers will turn their back on the Dark Tower. It draws both the energy and the readers of the universe toward it. What will Roland find there?