Warning: This article may contain spoilers.
Finally, late but here it is. The book was really good and brings a better understanding of the first two books.
Where The Gunslinger was a correlating collection of stories and The Drawing of the Three brings the main characters together, The Waste Lands actually moves the quest forward, gives some background and some direction.
Because Roland saved Jake (the kid at the waystation in The Gunslinger) from Jack Mort in The Drawing of the Three, his memory has now split in two because Jake’s death was his entry into Roland’s world. This is making Roland a bit crazy at the moment
Beginning in Book 2 of The Waste Lands, we also begin to follow Jake in “our” world. He’s having the same problems as Roland and his mind is also warring with itself. While trying to make it in a high-pressured prep school, Jake is about to give up. Not only is Jake going insane, but it is almost as if he is reliving certain occurrences. This leads him on his own journey and I’ll leave it at that.
The Waste Lands brings our quest for the dark tower that much closer, and actually giving it plenty of momentum. Our crew of gunslingers, or Ka-tet as we find out they are called because they are a group of people on the same mission whose fates are intertwined, begin this part of the journey in the middle of their training as gunslingers. They are the last of their kind and therefore, Eddie, Susannah Dean, and Roland are the only gunslingers in the entire world. They are attacked by a malicious and ravenous bear, Shardik (a cyborg) who we find out is actually a Guardian of one of the entrances to the 6 mystical beams that will lead to the dark tower. By following his tracks they find the beam.The ka-tet follow the beam to Mid-world where more adventure is to be had, but not before picking up another member Oy, the Billy-Bumbler
Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and now Oy, a motley group of disparate souls drawn together to save the world or so it would seem. A quest across thousands of miles and many, many years, in a world that is at once unfamiliar and identifiable as our own, unique and fantastical, a blend of science fiction, western and dystopia. Delightful townships live in the shadows of evil cities, inanimate objects with malevolent souls and oodles and oodles of peril combine to create The Waste Lands, complete with hints of origin stories, a fleshing out of histories and it leaves the reader with ever more questions, some of which will surely never be answered.
The Waste Lands drives home the notion that Roland’s world is coming apart at the seams. It also gives us hints about what Roland was like before the world moved
I can’t wait to get on with the series. It’s unique and well-crafted. You can’t help but care for these characters.