The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
First edition cover
|Cover artist||Bernie Wrightson|
|Genre||Fantasy, horror, science fiction, western|
|November 4, 2003|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
|Preceded by||Wizard and Glass|
|Followed by||Song of Susannah|
Wolves of the Calla is the fifth book in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. This book continues the story of Roland Deschain, Eddie Dean, Susannah Dean, Jake Chambers, and Oy as they make their way toward the Dark Tower. The subtitle of this novel is Resistance. Prior to the novel's publication, two excerpts were published: "Calla Bryn Sturgis" was published in 2001 on Stephen King's official site, and "The Tale of Gray Dick" was published in 2003 in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales. Both excerpts were incorporated in revised form into the novel. Wolves of the Calla was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 2004.
After escaping the alternate Topeka and the evil wizard Randall Flagg, Roland's ka-tet travel to the farming village of Calla Bryn Sturgis where they meet the townsfolk, as well as Father Callahan, who was originally introduced in 'Salem's Lot. He and the townsfolk request the ka-tet's assistance in battling against the Wolves of Thunderclap, who come once a generation to take one child from each pair of the town's twins. After a few months of being away, the children are then returned "roont" (ruined) - mentally handicapped and destined to grow to enormous size and die young. The Wolves are due to come in about a month's time.
Father Callahan also tells the gunslingers his remarkable story of how he left Maine following his battle with the vampire Kurt Barlow in the novel 'Salem's Lot. Since that encounter he has gained the ability to identify Type-3 vampires with a blue aura. After some time he begins killing these minor vampires as he finds them; however, this makes him a wanted man amongst the "low men" and so Callahan must go into exile. Eventually he is lured into a trap and dies, allowing him to enter Mid-World in 1983, much as Jake did when killed in The Gunslinger. He appears near the Calla with an evil magic ball called Black Thirteen, and is found by the Manni people in a place called The Doorway Cave.
Not only do Roland of Gilead and his ka-tet have to protect the Calla-folken from the Wolves, they must also protect a single red rose that grows in a vacant lot on Second Avenue and Forty-Sixth Street in mid-town Manhattan of 1977. If it is destroyed, then the Tower (which is the rose in another form) will fall. In order to get back to New York to prevent this they must use the sinister Black Thirteen. To add to that, Roland and Jake have noticed bizarre changes in Susannah's behavior, which are linked to the event recounted in The Waste Lands when Susannah coupled with the demon in the stone circle. Roland informs Eddie that Susannah has been impregnated by the demon, and though he fears for her safety he remains surprisingly calm. They promise to keep the fact that they know a secret from Susannah, but later Susannah reveals to the ka-tet that she herself has come to grips with it, and knowledge of a second personality living in Susannah named Mia "daughter of none" is shared.
Jake finds out that his new friend Benny Slightman's father is a traitor by following him to a military outpost between the Calla and Thunderclap known as "The Dogan" (which is also featured in The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home). Jake tells Roland, who shows mercy by not killing Slightman, instead leaving him alive for his son and Jake's sake. The wolves attack, using weapons resembling the snitches found in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series (which are actually stamped 'Harry Potter Model') and lightsabers found in George Lucas' Star Wars, and are revealed to be robots and to have Doctor Doom-like visages. The gunslingers, along with some help from a few plate-throwing women in the Calla, defeat the wolves, all the while with the children safely hidden in a rice patch nearby. Mia takes over the body of Susannah and flees to the doorway cave, where she uses Black Thirteen to transport herself to New York.
Stephen King has acknowledged multiple sources of influence for this story, including Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, its stepchild The Magnificent Seven, Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name" trilogy, and other works by Howard Hawks and John Sturges, among others.
Many direct references to popular culture are noted either by characters or via narration within the book's text. Such instances include: several of the Wolves carrying weapons that resemble lightsabers and a "messenger robot" similar in demeanor to the android C-3PO from the Star Wars movies, with the look of an Isaac Asimov robot; the Wolves themselves seeming to bear a physical resemblance to Doctor Doom from the Marvel Comics comic books, and flying grenades named "sneetches" that are stated as being from the Harry Potter product line (a direct reference to the Golden Snitch from the J. K. Rowling books, and to the Dr. Seuss characters). Also, in minor reference to the Harry Potter series, King makes use of the same font (for chapter titles) used in all seven Harry Potter books.
King also references an earlier, uncollected short story from the late 1980s called "The Reploids", which deals with people sliding between realities and also features denominations of money featuring President Chadbourne.