The Waste Lands
The Waste Lands is book III of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. The original limited edition hardcover featuring full-color illustrations by Ned Dameron was published in 1991 by Donald M. Grant, Publisher. The book was reissued in 2003 to coincide with the publication of The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla.
It picks up some weeks after The Drawing of the Three left off: Roland, Susannah, and Eddie have moved east from the shore, and into the woods. After an encounter with a gigantic robot bear named Shardik, they discover one of the six mystical Beams that run through the world and follow it inland.
Roland's group receives two new members: Roland's formerly-dead companion Jake Chambers from 1977 New York City, and an unusually intelligent billy-bumbler (a dog/fox creature with parrot-like speaking ability) named Oy.
The ka-tet (a group of people bound together by fate) follows the Path of the Beam to Lud. The ancient, high-tech city has been ravaged by decades of war, and one of the surviving fighters kidnaps Jake. The ka-tet is eventually reunited at the Cradle of Lud, a monorail train station which they use to escape Lud before its final desctruction.
Once aboard Blaine, the highly intelligent, computerized mono, it announces its intention to derail itself with them aboard unless they can defeat it in a riddle contest. The novel ends with Blaine and Roland's ka-tet speeding through the Waste Lands, a radioactive land of mutated animals and ancient ruins, on the way to Topeka, the end of the line.
The Twelve Portals and Guardians
The Twelve Guardians are explained to guard the Twelve Portals. Each Guardian matches up with a Guardian on the other end of the Beam which they guard, and at the point where all the Beams meet is the Dark Tower. The Guardians are revealed in several scenes, the first is when Roland is explaining to Eddie and Susannah Dean what Shardik was and his understanding of the Beams, another is when Eddie and Susannah approach the Cradle of Lud, and the last, Bird and Hare, are revealed in the poem Roland and Susan Delgado (his lover) recite to each other occationally: 'Bird and Bear and Hare and Fish . . .' The only pairs identified are by Susannah and Eddie while at the Cradle of Lud.
Shardik was created by North Central Positronics, Limited which may be connected to the mysterious Sombra Corp.
The pairings we can be sure of are:
- Bear - Turtle
- Horse - Dog
- Rat - Fish
- Elephant - Wolf
The rose is thought to be the manifestation of the Dark Tower in Jake's where and when. It should be noted that while both Eddie and Susannah appear to be from the same where, such appearances can be deceiving. Much like the Ages of Myst, within the infinity of worlds linked by the Tower, anything is possible.
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