The Wind Through the Keyhole

December 18, 2017 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

windThe Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King


It’s time. Time is the wind through the keyhole. King mentions this in the center story (because this is a story within a story within a story), and I’m still not quite sure I understand what it’s supposed to mean. We look in a keyhole, but feel the wind blowing through it, and that’s time? Mkay.

I waffled over when to read this book in the overall series. At first I thought I would read it within the chronology, which is after Wizard and Glass but before The Wolves of the Calla, but in the end I figured reading it in publication order made more sense, since chances were, King would try to retcon something else.

The middle story (“The Wind Through the Keyhole”) is a fairy tale or legend, but it ties in with the larger story in which it appears, since another “RF” appears within. Clearly, within the world of the tower, it’s supposed to be real and not fiction, which is sort of annoying, but not so much as this story being shoehorned into the larger Dark Tower saga. The framing device of the story (the ka-tet takes shelter from a starkblast — a severe cold front — and Roland tells the story of him and Jamie taking on the skin-man, which in turn contains the story of the legend) doesn’t advance the story of their quest at all, so why include it at all? The front of the book tells us this is “A Dark Tower Novel”, not a part of the series proper, so why force it? Why not just have it be a story of Roland’s earlier days and leave it at that?

The second story (“The Skin-Man”) is short, and serves as the framing device for the legend, and doesn’t serve much purpose other than that. It gives us an additional look into Roland’s character after the events of Mejis, but it doesn’t tell us anything more than what we already know. It feels like the whole book was written just to tell the tale of “The Wind Through the Keyhole”, which winds up being the largest percentage of the book anyway. King admits in the foreword to the book that he wrote these stories intending them to be the start of a collection of stories set in Mid-World, but instead crammed them together into this one book. It’s a compelling story, told in his usual style, and it puzzles me why he didn’t just save it for a later release.

(I lie. I know why he did it: $$$.)

“The Wind Through the Keyhole” is the best story here, but it doesn’t add anything to the larger mythology of Roland and the tower, so I don’t see it as a necessary read, even for fans of the series. It just adds a few pieces of fan service here and there, and force-fits it into the larger series. If King ever does get around to publishing a collection of stories set in the world of the tower, I would hope he divides the two central stories apart, and removes the framing device of the ka-tet altogether. I think I could appreciate the stories were he to do that.

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