Jun 11 2012 12:00pm

A Read of The Dark Tower: Constant Reader Tackles Wizard and Glass, Susan, Chapter 6: “Sheemie”

“Cast your nets, wanderers! Try me with your questions, and let the contest begin.”

—Blaine the Mono, to Roland and the Ka-Tet, at the end of The Waste Lands

Welcome to A Read of the Dark Tower series. Join me each week as I, Constant Reader, tackle the magnum opus of Stephen King’s career for the first time. If you want to discuss in general terms or talk about these first sections, join me by commenting here.

When we last left our young ka-tet, Roland was acting like a judgmental horse’s hindquarters after learning the gist of Susan’s relationship with the mayor.

Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 1

Now we’re going to see what happens during the night after the boys leave Mayor’s House. The way this section is written, it feels like the countdown to a Wild West showdown (or an episode of Law and Order).

At 10 p.m., Roland and his friends leave the party, causing Aunt Cord to comment that they must be tired and Henry Wertner the stockliner to reply that no, they’re more like “rats exploring en woodpile after hokkut rain.”

Shortly after ten, Olive Thorin pled a headache and left the public rooms. She ponders her sad situation with the mayor, but then acknowledges that something—“an intrigue of some sort”—is going on. She suspects her husband knows a little about it, but only as much as Kimba Rimer and “that hideous limping man,” Jonas, want him to know. And for the mayor’s recent lack of attention to the important things going on around him, Olive blames his fixation with “sai Delgado.”

By eleven, the mayor, Kimba Rimer, and Eldred Jonas are in the study with a bunch of the ranchers, having a conversation about how young the Affiliation’s emissaries are, and how that is a relief. Jonas doesn’t participate in the conversation, just listens and smiles.

By midnight, Susan has gotten home and is getting ready for bed. She’d had to turn over the sapphire to the mayor himself before leaving and also had to let herself be kissed and touched. So she’s angry now—at the mayor, at her Aunt Cord, “furious with that self-righteous prig of a Will Dearborn,” and at herself for letting herself get into such a situation.

By one a.m., no one is left in the public rooms of Mayor’s House except a cleaning crew and Eldred Jonas—who makes all the cleaning women nervous. They call him “Il spectro,” which I guess is sort of a bastardized Spanish for “the ghost” or something like that.

By two a.m., even the cleaning women have gone home. But not everything is sleepy and quiet in town. The night is still young at the Travellers’ Rest beneath the “all-encompassing gaze” of the two-headed deer head known as The Romp.

What Constant Reader Learns: I haven’t fully decided if I like Susan or not, but I did feel sorry for her in this scene as she looks at her options and realizes they all suck. All her “choices seemed bad and honorless, all the roads either filled with rocks or hub-deep in mud.”

Now, the person I really feel sorry for is Olive Thorin. She hasn’t shared a bedroom with the mayor for a decade or a bed, “even briefly,” for five. And she still loves the jackass even though he is clueless (or doesn’t care) how humiliating it is for him to parade Susan around in front of everyone.

I love some of Stephen King’s descriptions, as when Olive Thorin thinks of her husband as “an overweening, vainglorious, prancing loon of a man.” I so want to call someone a prancing loon and vow to do so before the day is up.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 2

We get a snapshot of the Travellers’ Rest. Fishermen are playing “Watch Me” in one corner. “Cowpokes” are playing a gambling game with dice in “Satan’s Alley.” Sheb is banging out tunes on the piano while Pettie the Trotter sings and dances on top of a stool. A game of darts is in progress. A whore is managing two handjobs at once while smoking a pipe. The bar is packed with drinkers, although the only real gunmen in the place, we’re told, are at the end of the bar, drinking alone.

Reynolds and Depape have been out doing dirty work while Jones partied it up with the town leaders. They’d spent the day at Citgo, using pine limbs and branches to camouflage a line of empty steel tankers covered in “nonsense words” (like Texaco, Sunoco, Citgo, Exxon). They’re dirty, covered in scratches and reeking of pine resin, and Depape is annoyed because his favorite whore is off doing a private job at a ranch. Finally, Reynolds decides he’ll go to the other end of the bar and help himself to some of the steamed clams being served up, and as he strides through the bar with his billowing silk-lined cloak, a cowhand at the bar moves out of his way.

Sheemie, the mentally challenged young man who cleans the Traveller’s Rest, whom we met briefly in a previous chapter, just happens to be moving through the bar with his “camel bucket” and trips, sloshing the concoction all over Roy Depape, drenching him from the knees down. (Apparently, all the unfinished drinks are poured together into a bucked labeled “Camel Piss,” and the very poor or too-drunk-to-care can buy a double-shot for three pennies.)

Silence settles over the bar as everyone waits to see what Depape will do. Sheemie tries to apologize: “Sorry, big fella, I go trippy-trip.” The cowboy who tripped him thinks he’s being blamed and begins to protest, but Depape says he doesn’t care how it happened. There’s a long, silent pause as everyone waits to see what Depape will do. The bartender, Stanley—who might or might not be Sheemie’s father—tries to apologize for him and offers Depape free drinks the rest of the evening. He gets a (very quick) gun in the mouth for his trouble.

But Depape doesn’t want free drinks; he wants some entertainment, and realizes he’s playing to an audience as he orders Sheemie to lick his boots clean. Barkie the bouncer tells the boy to do it if he wants to see the sun come up—although we know that Depape has already decided to kill the kid…after he enjoys the sensation of getting his boots licked.

Poor Sheemie starts crying as he bends his head toward Depape’s boots, but before he can get in a good tongue-swiping, a voice calls out for him to “Stop it, stop it, stop it.” The voice isn’t angry, but amused. “Unsanitary, you see. Who knows what disease might be spread in such fashion. The mind quails! Ab-so-lutely cuh-wails!”

It’s Cuthbert, of course, now wearing his rook’s skull on a chain around his neck and holding a slingshot. Depape’s first reaction is to laugh, and Cuthbert laughs with him. Depape’s still holding his gun, but tells Bert he’s going to give him one chance to leave. The ever-charming Cuthbert thanks him, but doesn’t move. Instead, he says he’d like to give his chance to Sheemie. The card-players in the corner murmur approval at this, and Depape feels his audience’s interest shifting to the boy. He notices that his buddy Reynolds has slipped behind Cuthbert, but figures he doesn’t need help handling a boy with a slingshot. So he makes his move.

What Constant Reader Learns: I was expecting “Hey Jude,” but Sheb and Pettie are doing a rousing version of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On.” Maybe this is more of a Jerry Lee kind of crowd.

People are giving wide berth to our friends Reynolds and Depape, partly because they’re ill-tempered and partly because “they wore shooting irons in holsters that were slung low and tied down gunslinger fashion.” Guns were “uncommon but not unknown in Mejis at that time.”

It tells me a lot about Depape that he doesn’t set this whole incident in motion because he is angry about Sheemie spilling crap all over him, but basically because he’s bored and in a bad mood. Also interesting that his first impression of ‘Bert is of “gunslinger,” not “boy with slingshot.”

The whole drawn-out “what will Depape do” scene has that tense High Noon showdown feel to it, doesn’t it? Well, until the David-and-Goliath imagery comes in via Cuthbert. Then it’s just mind-bogglingly fun.

Cuthbert shows a lot more than his silly side here. He shows compassion, and a willingness to step into danger to right a wrong even when the odds are against him. This could be a valuable asset in an ally; it could also end up getting him killed at some point, though I don’t believe it will be in this scene.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 3

Depape is young and fast on the draw, but he’s no match for Cuthbert and his slingshot. Bert gives him a steel ball to his shooting hand, which causes him to drop his gun. Someone kicks it out of reach (“no one would claim that foot while the Big Coffin Hunters were still in Hambry; hundreds claimed it after they were gone”). Depape is stunned; he can’t believe Bert’s ball not only hit his hand, but hit it with enough force to tear off a fingernail.

Cuthbert’s about to demand Sheemie’s release when Reynolds places his own gun’s muzzle at the back of the boy’s neck. “I don’t know if you’re good with that thing or just shitass lucky, but either way, you’re done with it now,” he says, ordering Bert to place the slingshot on the table.

Again, Cuthbert declines, and Reynolds can’t believe what he’s hearing. But, as Bert points out, he has his slingshot aimed at Depape’s head and can do a lot of damage by the time Reynolds gets a shot off. As this little speech takes place, Depape decides to move and “Cuthbert’s voice rose in a whipcrack that did not sound callow in the least: ‘Stand still! Move again and you’re a dead man!’” And Depape freezes, telling Reynolds not to shoot the kid.

Reynolds, bemused, says they have a standoff…until he feels a knife blade against his throat and the soft voice of Alain behind him, telling him to put the gun down.

What Constant Reader Learns: We know something big is coming because this section starts out with, “They talked about it in Hambry for years to come; three decades after the fall of Gilead and the end of the Affiliation, they were still talking. By that time, there were better than five hundred old gaffers (and a few old gammers) claiming that they were drinking a beer in the Rest that night, and saw it all.”

Cuthbert’s cool when Reynolds gets the slip on him. “I’ve been blindsided,” he says sadly. “Betrayed once more by my own callow youth.” How can you not love this kid? I’m guessing his charm and silliness cause a lot of people to underestimate him (like Eddie much?).

What a great scene. Now I’m just waiting for the “big boys”—Jonas and Roland—to show up.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 4

Sure enough, here’s Jonas, standing outside the batwing doors to the tavern, watching “with amazement, contempt, and something close to horror…He would have thought it better than a traveling circus, if not for the problems that would follow if this were not put right.” He realizes he and his men will get no respect in Hambry if they are bested by a bunch of children, but he also realizes that the “Affiliation brats” won’t leave Mejis alive—but that it’s not the time or way to kill them.

And then Jonas thinks what we’re all thinking: Where’s the other one? Where’s Will Dearborn?

He turns around and scans the street in both directions, even glancing down the alley, where a bit of movement turns out to be a cat. Confident Roland’s nowhere around, he pulls his gun and puts it to Alain’s temple before the boy can begin to turn.

“Unless you’re a barber, I think you’d better put that pigsticker down,” he tells Alain.

And Alain, like Cuthbert, says no. Jonas is thunderstruck.

What Constant Reader Learns: A line of “carved totems” sits in front of the mercantile store, illustrating the Guardians of the Beam: Bear, Turtle, Fish, Eagle, Lion, Bat, and Wolf. It’s not the full list, but seven of the twelve. We’ve seen references to them in various places, but this is the first time I remember this complete a list being presented in one place. What are the other five? *scratches head*

Ah, I love seeing the mettle of our youngsters.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 5

We’re going to pick up Roland’s evening now. After the party, he left Cuthbert and Alain to amuse themselves and rode into town by another route. He’s spent the hours since then tromping around town and thinking. He realizes something’s wrong in Hambry, and that his thoughts of Susan are distracting him. “There were questions, outright mysteries, and the most hellish thing of all was that he couldn’t concentrate on them, let alone go any distance toward making sense of them.” He realizes he’s forgotten the face of his father in this whole situation, and he’s walking alone, looking to remember it.

He approaches High Street, and thinks he might stop in Traveller’s Rest and find his friends. Then he spots Jonas standing outside the door of the bar with one hand on the butt of his gun and, just like that, all thoughts of Susan are gone. Acting on instinct, Roland keeps himself hidden and crouches on the porch (behind the carving of the bear) while Jonas looks around and steps inside the bar. Roland’s right behind him.

What Constant Reader Learns: Roland’s really regretting his last words to Susan, recognizing them as having been delivered “in the stilted, priggish voice of a boy preacher.” What’s it to him, he thinks—even Arthur Eld had better than forty gilly-girls himself. And then he realizes he’s “gone and fallen in love with her…A dismaying idea, but not a dismissable one.” He also realizes he hates her and the part of him that had the impulse to shoot her at dinner was not jealousy but some “indefinable but powerful connection” he’d made between Olive Thorin and his own mother. “Hadn’t that same woeful, rueful look been in his mother’s eyes on the day when he had come upon her and his father’s advisor?” But Roland, so far at least, has not seen Susan as just as much a victim as Olive. Mayhap he will, but not so far.

Roland has an intuition that something’s very wrong, and we learn he has strong intuitions at times even though he doesn’t have ‘the touch” like Alain. Hm…did we know this? I don’t think we knew this “touch” business or exactly what it is.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 6

Poor old Pettie the Trotter is still standing on her stool, although she’s sobered up pretty fast, and her observations remind us what the scene looks like: “Jonas had the drop on a boy who had the drop on Reynolds who had the drop on another boy...who had the drop on Roy Depape.”

What Constant Reader Learns: LOL. Pettie realizes that some shooting’s about to start and if she was smart she’d get off the stool, but then she might miss something. “Sometimes you just had to take your chances. Because some things were just too good to miss.”

Been a while since we had one of these classic “let’s just drag out the scene tension as long as possible” short sections.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 7

Alain, in his calm way, explains to Jonas why he refuses to put down the knife. “We’re in this town on Affiliation business…If you harm us, the Affiliation will take note. So will our fathers. You’ll be hunted like dogs and hung upside down, like as not, when you’re caught.”

Jonas isn’t quaking in his boots at this pronouncement. There are no Affiliation patrols within two hundred wheels and he wouldn’t care if there were. He repeats his order for Alain to drop the knife, and again Alain refuses. Cuthbert cracks a joke, and Jonas realizes how badly he had underestimated these boys. Alain tells Jonas to call it a draw and step away, but Jonas refuses. He is getting angry at the idea of being outfaced by these children.

Jonas issues his last threat, but is cut short by the feel of something hard and cold pressed against the center of his back. “He knew what it was and who held it at once, understood the game was lost, but couldn’t understand how such a ludicrous, maddening turn of events could have happened.”

“Holster the gun,” Roland says, and Jonas does as he’s told. Like a falling row of dominoes, Alan drops his knife from Reynolds’ neck, Reynolds drops the gun he has on Cuthbert, Depape drops his own gun (wait…when did he get it back after someone kicked it away? Did he have two guns?), and, finally, Cuthbert lowers the slingshot.

Sheemie, who’s been on the floor during this standoff, kisses Cuthbert’s hand in gratitude, then makes a run for it—right into the sleepy, half-drunk Sheriff Avery, who’d been sleeping in one of his cells a la Barney Fife when he’d been fetched by Sheb.

What Constant Reader Learns: Roland’s voice is described as “empty, somehow—not just calm, but emotionless.” And there’s the baby version of the gunslinger we all know and love.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 8

Avery couldn’t fit himself and six miscreants in his little jail office, so he herds them all to the Town Gathering Hall. Reynolds and Depape, we’re told, look “sullen and embarrassed,” Jonas is “remote and composed,” and the three boys are quiet, although Roland gives Cuthbert a look that translates as “One smart remark and I’ll rip the tongue right out of your head.”

Avery, who has to feel as if he’s in the middle of a big mess he can’t possibly control, suggests the solution that will be easiest for everyone: “Forget it…I’ll not spend the next three or four months waiting to see who among you’s killed who.” He also appeals to “your more noble natures, which I am sure are both large and sensitive.” He’s not getting much reaction from his audience, so he appeals directly to Jonas, who finally agrees.

Jonas and Roland shake hands and cry pardon first, followed by the rest (although Roland’s holding his breath and praying Cuthbert behaves himself).

What Constant Reader Learns: Avery, who’s looking at his new charges “with a kind of disgusted wonder,” can’t handle anything until Deputy Dawg, uh, I mean Deputy Dave, brings in a mug and birch-bark hangover cure obtained from the old witch Rhea. When Avery is explaining this and gets to the part about Rhea, he gives Jonas a knowing look. Jonas doesn’t react, but Roland makes note of it and wonders what it means. Which makes me wonder if it wasn’t the sheriff who recommended Jonas stash his seeing stone, or whatever it is, with her.

The sheriff is much relieved that the two sides agree to “forget it” (although we know they won’t). He understands that all six of them are really beyond his authority. Once the apologies are done, he shakes hands all around, “with the enthusiasm of a minister who has finally succeeded in marrying a headstrong couple after a long and stormy courtship.”


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 9

As they walk outside, Jonas tells Roland, “Mayhap we’ll meet again, sai.” And Roland replies, “Mayhap we will.”

What Constant Reader Learns: Yeah, mayhap I’m pretty much betting on it.


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 10

The Big Coffin Hunters head toward their quarters at a watchman’s house south of the seafront. Halfway there, Jonas stops and orders Depape off his horse. Depape’s babbling, especially after Jonas tells him to remove his glasses. But he does, and then Jonas gives him a “terrific clip on the side of the head.” Depape’s about to fall off the side of the cliff when Jonas grabs his shirt and pulls him back.

Finally, Jonas realizes the night’s events might end up being a good thing because now, they won’t be underestimating the three boys again. “I ain’t going to toss you over,” he tells Depape, “because then I’d have to toss Clay over and follow along myself. They got the drop on us the same as you.”

He pulls them into a hunker-down chat. Jonas needs to know everything he can about these boys, so he orders Depape (as “the fool that started the pot boiling”) to track the boys back to where they came from, asking questions. Until they get answers, he and Reynolds are going to watch and wait, “play Castles with them.”

What Constant Reader Learns: As they’re making plans, Jonas says, “The way [the boys] were tonight, they were like…” Jonas finishes the sentence. “They acted like gunslingers.” Jonas knows they’re too young to be real gunslingers, but they might be apprentice gunslingers—another reason for Depape’s scouting mission.

Jonas also explains why he gave in and shook hands with Roland. “We can’t rock the boat, boys. Not just when it’s edging in toward harbor. Latigo and the folks we’ve been waiting for will be moving toward us very soon now.” He leans in to talk, and whatever else he says, Depape’s suddenly glad he’s going to be taking a trip. *Makes note of “Latigo” for future reference.*


Wizard and Glass, “Susan”: Chapter V, Sheemie, Section 11

Roland and his buds are almost back to the ranch when Cuthbert starts making jokes again. Roland and Alain ignore him until Bert tells Roland that Jonas means to kill him. “They mean to kill all of us,” Alain says. Roland agrees, and knows they won’t be able to surprise Jonas and his friends as easily now.

What Constant Reader Learns: They stop and look down a hill at a herd of horses moving along the drop. When Alain asks Roland what he sees, he says: “Trouble, and in our road.” Very similar to his comment when he was asked by Eddie about the building blocking the road back in “Topeka.”

That’s it for this week! Next week—same time, same place—we’ll continue with the next chapter of Wizard and Glass.

1. CallahanOTheRoads
And the ball starts rolling...Cuthbert shows his deep steel in this section, and great humor- "I know I'm being a pain in the neck, sir, not to mention....", and Alain his quiet courage- "I said no."
Great catch, SJ, on noticing the gun that was kicked away was back in Roy's hand to be re-holstered after the end of the Mejisan Standoff.
This was the section that finally drew me all the way into W&G after the several year hiatus. And Sheemie became one of my favorite good-guy characters outside of our ka-tet. (More on him as our story unfolds.)
2. Gentleman Farmer
One of the things I really liked about this series of chapters was Roland's introspection. Through much of the series, he adopts a fatalistic approach, both with respect to events and with respect to his own character.

I think this helped me be able to think of him as young here, and I liked that (more than the older version of Roland) he seemed to think he could still correct and atone for things he'd already done, and perhaps re-make or improve himself while doing so.

Particularly after the last set of chapters, this set combining the Olive Thorin perspective and Roland's internal insights went a long way for me to making Roland a more sympathetic youth and character generally (I had been kind of worried after his response to Susan at the ball).

Despite bringing Jake back into mid-world, I hadn't really warmed up to Roland, and continued to hold Jake's death against him, in no small part because of his apparent conviction that he did the right thing. It's nice to see him at this stage of his life considering that he may not have done the right thing with respect to Susan, and acknowledge that his decisions may have been personally motivated rather than destined by ka.
3. Lsana
I love this chapter, probably my favorite in the whole series. There are times when it is necessary to subvert the tropes...and then there are times when it is necessary to embrace them in all of their joyous glory. This was definitely one of the later times. Take the typical Mexican Standoff and turn it up to 11. I loved Cuthbert and Alain, and even Reynolds and Jonas, in this scene.

I thought it was very nice of Jonas to warn Depape to take off his glasses before he hit him. As a glasses-wearer myself, I understand the importance of not breaking these things.

As far as Sheriff Avery's comment about Rhea, I don't think it was so much that Avery has any particular relation to the fact that they took the ball up there so much as it is Avery's way of reminding Jonas not to "rock the boat."
Suzanne Johnson
4. SuzanneJohnson
I'm so so so loving this book after my initial reservations. This scene in the Travellers Rest was terrific and you're right, Lsana, that this was a case where the old tropes should just be celebrated. I found myself grinning through much of the chapter as our line of deadly dominoes got set up and knew Roland would be the one to dismantle it.

I'm also enjoying seeing Roland at this young age, and at how deeply he's thinking things through. I have no doubts by the end of this book, I'll have a much better picture of how he became the man we've come to know.

And Cuthbert shows his mettle. Like Eddie, we most often see the silly side of him, so it was great to see, as Callahan says, his "deep steel."
5. Paulie
I am re-reading the series and about 2/3 of the way through W&G. I was really hoping you would quote Roland directly when he got the drop on Jonas, "Holster the gun," the voice behind the sharp tip of metal said. It was empty, somehow - not just calm, but emotionless. "Do it now, or this goes in your heart. No more talk. Talking's done. Do it or die."
I think this gives us a little look at each of our young heroes. Cuthbert - joking and light, but sticking up for the weaker person and refusing to back down. Alain - quiet and strong. Roland - totally in command. Awesome scene.
6. Croaker41
#5. I'm with you. I love that quote. I reminds you that Roland means business. No BS going on here. Do what he says or he will kill you. I also liked how Jonas knew without a doubt that he ment what he said. Just a great scene all around.
7. StrongDreams
I always thought Roland was a little too talky in that speech. Some of Sai King's ever-running wordiness spilling over into our taciturn gunslinger.

The Constant Readers need to be careful here lest they conclude that the big coffin hunters will always come up second best to the gunslingers.
9. Andy T.
Suzanne, I'm glad it's turning out to be a good book. Like I said before, a lot of people had a lot of pre-loaded antagonism against this novel once they realized it wasn't much about Ka Tet II and it soured them against this very nicely told story.

This whole Mejis Standoff section with Roland's band vs. the Blue Coffin Hunters is one of my favorites of the DT series, I've been waiting for you to get to it! Glad you liked it as much as I did.
Katie McNeal
10. Katiya
Though this comes from an outside source (comic-companion), there aren't any spoilers, and I thought it'd be fun to share. The Guardians are as follows: Maturin the Turtle, Shardik the Bear, Chuchundra the Rat, Jasconius the Fish, Garm the Dog, Rocinante the Horse, Camazotz the Bat, Owsla the Hare, Telekeli the Eagle, Aker the Lion, Babar the Elephant and Navius the Wolf. These are the pairs of Guardians for each of the six Beams.
11. StrongDreams
From Keyhole,the lion is Aslan.
Katie McNeal
12. Katiya
Yeah, I noticed that as well...going with SK's propensity for throwing as many name brand/pop culture/iconic figures into his novels as possible, my guess is that he always meant for it to be Aslan, but maybe couldn't get the rights when the comic came out. :P
Suzanne Johnson
13. SuzanneJohnson
Ah, good to have the list of Guardians and I love some of the names taken from "our" popular culture. Maybe all, but probably a combination of made-up names and "literary" names?
14. SKM
@13, none are made up. They're all cultural references.

Maturin is from Stephen King's own book, "It"
Shardik is the eponymous bear from "Shardik"
Chuchundra is the muskrat from "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi"
Jasconius is a giant fish/sea monster in the "Legend of St. Brendan"
Garm/Garmr is a dog from Norse mythology, who served a role similar to Cerberus
Rocinante was Don Quixote's horse
Camazotz was the Mayan bat god of death
Owsla is a rabbit-language term from "Watership Down"
Telekeli is taken from the name E'telekeli, a human/eagle underperson in "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell"
Aslan is the lion version of Jesus from "The Chronicles of Narnia" (and Aker was an Egyptian god represented by two lions)
Babar is the eponymous elephant from the "Babar the Elephant" children's books
Navius/Naevius was a Roman playwright -- according to legend, an actual wolf walked onto the set during a performance of his play about Romulus and Remus
Suzanne Johnson
15. SuzanneJohnson
@SKM...Well, how awesome is that? You caught me being lazy, and now I don't have to look them all up. Please don't tell me I'm the only one who'd never heard of Camazotz. Okay, I really was only familiar with Shardik, Rocinante, Aslan, Babar and Garm. I feel like such a heathen.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
16. tnh
Camazotz is also the evil planet in A Wrinkle in Time.
17. SKM
I only knew Garm, Rocinante, Chuchundra, Babar, Aslan, Owsla, and Shardik offhand. (I knew there was a planet called Camazotz in "A Wrinkle in Time," too, but not where L'Engle got the name from.) The rest of them I just Googled to see what came up, on the theory that if that many were for sure references, the rest probably were, too.

Thanks for the list, @12!
18. Lsana
Keyhole also changes the Eagle to Garuda, which according to Wikipedia is a minor god from Hinduism, usually portrayed as Vishnu's mount. Someone more knowledgable than I am about Hinduism would have to tell you more.
19. StrongDreams
There is a reason why the guardians would be named after references from other literary worlds (other levels of the Tower), but we can't talk about that until later.

@13 et al.,
My guess is that the list of guardians for the comics was prepared by Robin Furth, and rubber-stamped (if seen at all) by SK. I think she had a lot more to do with the comics than he did. When he decided to write a new story, he chose new names, assuming he was aware of the old names.

("Babar" really annoys me. Weren't there any great literary elephants from Indian or SE Asian literature?)
20. CallahanOTheRoads
@StrongDreams- I didn't think Roland was too talky in this scene. He used one and two-syllable words, and not many of them, and the description was longer than the dialogue spoken.
It was certainly less talky than the scene with Walter under the mountains in the revised Gunslinger, where "Come down, then. Answers all around." gets changed to "Come down here then, do that I beg ya, and we'll have answers all around." I like the more laconic Roland too, it seems more in keeping with the character of a loner who doesn't need to talk much because there is no one to talk to.
21. MejisMayor
What a badass scene! I love that Jonas noticed immediately that Roland wasn't bluffing.
22. SKM
("Babar" really annoys me. Weren't there any great literary elephants from Indian or SE Asian literature?)

Ganesha seems the obvious one. Erawan/Airavata is a bit more obscure. (There's also Hathi, from "The Jungle Book" -- not truly SE Asian literature, but still a better pick than Babar, IMO.) For an African addition to the list, he could have gone with Esono, the name of the elephant in the Anansi tales of the Ashanti. There were plenty of better references to elephants available.
23. RolandsMagicalJerky
This readthrough is bringing back some memories!!

Although this book makes me weep
Katie McNeal
24. Katiya
@ 14 SKM, thanks for the rundown! I always assumed they were significant, but like SuzanneJohnson @ 15, I was too lazy to track it all down. Your takes on alternate elephant names are very cool, and IMHO, prefereable, but ah well.
25. TrickyFreak
Wow. I didn't bother Googling those names when I read the comics. Thank you SKM. :)

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