Mon
Dec 19 2011 10:00am
The Dark Tower: The Wind Through The Keyhole (Excerpt)
Stephen King

Enjoy this first peek at Stephen King’s next book, a new installment to the Dark Tower series, The Wind Through The Keyhole.

In King’s own words: “What happened to Roland, Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy between the time they leave the Emerald City (the end of Wizard and Glass) and the time we pick them up again, on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis (the beginning of Wolves of the Calla)? There was a storm, I decided....”

Special editons of The Wind Through The Keyhole are currently available for preorder from Donald M. Grant Publisher, Inc and will be out from Scribner on April 24, 2011. You can find more information on the Grant special editions here.

The Wind Through The Keyhole takes place between books four and five in The Dark Tower series. Below, read an exclusive excerpt and take a peek at three pieces by artist Jae Lee depicting characters from the novel.

 

FOREWORD

Most of the people holding this book have followed the adventures of Roland and his band—his ka-tet—for years, some of them from the very beginning. Others—and I hope there are many, newcomers and Constant Readers alike— may ask, Can I read and enjoy this story if I haven’t read the other Dark Tower books? My answer is yes, if you keep a few things in mind.

First, Mid-World lies next to our world, and there are many overlaps. In some places there are doorways between the two worlds, and sometimes there are thin places, porous places, where the two worlds actually mingle. Three of Roland’s ka-tet—Eddie, Susannah, and Jake—have been drawn separately from troubled lives in New York into Roland’s Mid-World quest. Their fourth traveling companion, a billy-bumbler named Oy, is a golden-eyed creature native to Mid-World. Mid-World is very old, and falling to ruin, filled with monsters and untrustworthy magic.

Second, Roland Deschain of Gilead is a gunslinger—one of a small band that tries to keep order in an increas- ingly lawless world. If you think of the gunslingers of Gilead as a strange combination of knights errant and territorial marshals in the Old West, you’ll be close to the mark. Most of them, although not all, are descended from the line of the old White King, known as Arthur Eld (I told you there were overlaps).

Third, Roland has lived his life under a terrible curse. He killed his mother, who was having an affair—mostly against her will, and certainly against her better judgment—with a fellow you will meet in these pages. Although it was by mistake, he holds himself accountable, and the unhappy Gabrielle Deschain’s death has haunted him since his young manhood. These events are fully narrated in The Dark Tower cycle, but for our purposes here, I think it’s all you have to know.

For long-time readers, this book should be shelved between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla . . . which makes it, I suppose, Dark Tower 4.5.

As for me, I was delighted to find my old friends had a little more to say. It was a great gift to find them again, years after I thought their stories were told.

Stephen King
September 14, 2011

 

 

Starkblast

One

During the days after they left the Green Palace that wasn’t Oz after all—but which was now the tomb of the unpleas- ant fellow Roland’s ka-tet had known as the Tick-Tock Man—the boy Jake began to range farther and farther ahead of Roland, Eddie, and Susannah.

“Don’t you worry about him?” Susannah asked Roland. “Out there on his own?”

“He’s got Oy with him,” Eddie said, referring to the billy-bumbler who had adopted Jake as his special friend. “Mr. Oy gets along with nice folks all right, but he’s got a mouthful of sharp teeth for those who aren’t so nice. As that guy Gasher found out to his sorrow.”

“Jake also has his father’s gun,” Roland said. “And he knows how to use it. That he knows very well. And he won’t leave the Path of the Beam.” He pointed overhead with his reduced hand. The low-hanging sky was mostly still, but a single corridor of clouds moved steadily southeast. Toward the land of Thunderclap, if the note left behind for them by the man who styled himself RF had told the truth.

Toward the Dark Tower.

“But why—” Susannah began, and then her wheelchair hit a bump. She turned to Eddie. “Watch where you’re pushin me, sugar.”

“Sorry,” Eddie said. “Public Works hasn’t been doing any maintenance along this stretch of the turnpike lately. Must be dealing with budget cuts.”

It wasn’t a turnpike, but it was a road . . . or had been: two ghostly ruts with an occasional tumbledown shack to mark the way. Earlier that morning they had even passed an abandoned store with a barely readable sign: TOOK’S OUT- LAND MERCANTILE. They investigated inside for supplies—Jake and Oy had still been with them then—and had found nothing but dust, ancient cobwebs, and the skeleton of what had been either a large raccoon, a small dog, or a billy-bumbler. Oy had taken a cursory sniff and then pissed on the bones before leaving the store to sit on the hump in the middle of the old road with his squiggle of a tail curled around him. He faced back the way they had come, sniffing the air.

Roland had seen the bumbler do this several times lately, and although he had said nothing, he pondered it. Someone trailing them, maybe? He didn’t actually believe this, but the bumbler’s posture—nose lifted, ears pricked, tail curled—called up some old memory or association that he couldn’t quite catch.

“Why does Jake want to be on his own?” Susannah asked.

“Do you find it worrisome, Susannah of New York?” Roland asked.

“Yes, Roland of Gilead, I find it worrisome.” She smiled amiably enough, but in her eyes, the old mean light sparkled. That was the Detta Walker part of her, Roland reckoned. It would never be completely gone, and he wasn’t sorry. Without the strange woman she had once been still buried in her heart like a chip of ice, she would have been only a handsome black woman with no legs below the knees. With Detta on board, she was a person to be reck- oned with. A dangerous one. A gunslinger.

“He has plenty of stuff to think about,” Eddie said quietly. “He’s been through a lot. Not every kid comes back from the dead. And it’s like Roland says—if someone tries to face him down, it’s the someone who’s apt to be sorry.” Eddie stopped pushing the wheelchair, armed sweat from his brow, and looked at Roland. “Are there someones in this particular suburb of nowhere, Roland? Or have they all moved on?”

“Oh, there are a few, I wot.”

He did more than wot; they had been peeked at several times as they continued their course along the Path of the Beam. Once by a frightened woman with her arms around two children and a babe hanging in a sling from her neck. Once by an old farmer, a half-mutie with a jerking ten- tacle that hung from one corner of his mouth. Eddie and Susannah had seen none of these people, or sensed the others that Roland felt sure had, from the safety of the woods and high grasses, marked their progress. Eddie and Susan- nah had a lot to learn.

But they had learned at least some of what they would need, it seemed, because Eddie now asked: “Are they the ones Oy keeps scenting up behind us?”

“I don’t know.” Roland thought of adding that he was sure something else was on Oy’s strange little bumbler mind, and decided not to. The gunslinger had spent long years with no ka-tet, and keeping his own counsel had become a habit. One he would have to break, if the tet was to remain strong. But not now, not this morning.

“Let’s move on,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll find Jake waiting for us up ahead.”

 

 

Two

Two hours later, just shy of noon, they breasted a rise and halted, looking down at a wide, slow-moving river, gray as pewter beneath the overcast sky. On the northwestern bank—their side—was a barnlike building painted a green so bright it seemed to yell into the muted day. Its mouth jutted out over the water on pilings painted a similar green. Docked to two of these pilings by thick hawsers was a large raft, easily ninety feet by ninety. It was painted in alternating stripes of red and yellow. A tall wooden pole that looked like a mast jutted from the center, but there was no sign of a sail. Several wicker chairs sat in front of it, facing the shore on their side of the river. Jake was seated in one of these. Next to him was an old man in a vast straw hat, baggy green pants, and longboots. On his top half he wore a thin white garment—the kind of shirt Roland thought of as a slinkum. Jake and the old man appeared to be eating well-stuffed popkins. Roland’s mouth sprang water at the sight of them.

Oy was beyond them, at the edge of the circus-painted raft, looking raptly down at his own reflection. Or perhaps at the reflection of the steel cable that ran overhead, spanning the river.

“Is it the Whye?” Susannah asked Roland.

“Yar.”

Eddie grinned. “You say Whye; I say Whye Not?” He raised one hand and waved it over his head. “Jake! Hey, Jake! Oy!”

Jake waved back, and although the river and the raft moored at its edge were still half a mile away, their eyes were uniformly sharp, and they saw the white of the boy’s teeth as he grinned.

Susannah cupped her hands around her mouth. “Oy! Oy! To me, sugar! Come see your mama!”

Uttering shrill yips that were the closest he could get to barks, Oy flew across the raft, disappeared into the barnlike structure, then emerged on their side. He came charging up the path with his ears lowered against his skull and his gold-ringed eyes bright.

“Slow down, sug, you’ll give yourself a heart attack!” Susannah shouted, laughing.

Oy seemed to take this as an order to speed up. He arrived at Susannah’s wheelchair in less than two minutes, jumped up into her lap, then jumped down again and looked at them cheerfully. “Olan! Ed! Suze!”

“Hile, Sir Throcken,” Roland said, using the ancient word for bumbler he’d first heard in a book read to him by his mother: The Throcken and the Dragon.

Oy lifted his leg, watered a patch of grass, then faced back the way they had come, scenting at the air, eyes on the horizon.

“Why does he keep doing that, Roland?” Eddie asked.

“I don’t know.” But he almost knew. Was it some old story, not The Throcken and the Dragon but one like it? Roland thought so. For a moment he thought of green eyes, watchful in the dark, and a little shiver went through him—not of fear, exactly (although that might have been a part of it), but of remembrance. Then it was gone.

There’ll be water if God wills it, he thought, and only realized he had spoken aloud when Eddie said, “Huh?”

“Never mind,” Roland said. “Let’s have a little palaver with Jake’s new friend, shall we? Perhaps he has an extra popkin or two.”

Eddie, tired of the chewy staple they called gunslinger burritos, brightened immediately. “Hell, yeah,” he said, and looked at an imaginary watch on his tanned wrist. “Good- ness me, I see it’s just Gobble O’Clock.”

“Shut up and push, honeybee,” Susannah said. Eddie shut up and pushed.

 

 

The full cover to The Wind Through The Keyhole by Jae Lee:

 

 

In the mood for more of The Dark Tower? Join author Suzanne Johnson in the Dark Tower readthrough here on Tor.com.

 

The Wind Through The Keyhole copyright © 2011 Stephen King

Art copyright © 2011 Jae Lee

34 comments
TrickyFreak
1. TrickyFreak
Okay, this got my mind's proverbial mouth watering. I feel like joining Oy in shouting "Olan! Ed! Suze!" I missed this ka-tet and their long days and pleasant nights.
Carlos Trimestos
2. CTri
"and will be out from Scribner on April 24, 2011"

Guess, this should be 2012.
TrickyFreak
3. Boogerb
I felt like I was seeing old friends I thought I'd never see again! Long days and pleasant nights Sai King. May your stories never end!
Jack Flynn
4. JackofMidworld
Am I a total whack-job for being as happy (and, yeah, a little misty-eyed) to see Oy again as I am? *sigh*
TrickyFreak
5. hohmeisw
I wondered why King brought up the great autumn storms of mid-world in book 3, and never did anything with them.
Sanctume Spiritstone
6. Sanctume
That cover.
Is that Jake?
A large Bengal tiger? Circus related because of the coloring of the raft?
A maple leaf, fall colored leaf.
That key shaped like a fish hook.
Paige Vest
7. paigevest
Oh my, but it's good to see Oy and Roland's ka-tet again. :o)

More, please!
Paige Vest
8. paigevest
Also, I'd kill for a print of Jake and the tiger... Oy?
TrickyFreak
9. Oy The billy bumbler
Named my dog Oy, lol. I cant wait1 Hopefully wont dissapoint like Wolves of Calla and those did. SOOOOO excited!
Samira Hills
10. samirahills
It is pleasure a going through your post. I have bookmarked you to check out new stuff from your side.

Flats in Indirapuram
TrickyFreak
11. king fan 1369
this is the best news i've heard sence i found out jesus walked on water. but mr. king hear me and hear me well, dont let hollywood limit the series to just three movies. This is your best work ever. Hell, they let that crappy twilight series go on for five shitty movies. Make hollywood respect your work and if ron howard gives you any shit kick that opie looking asshole in the nuts.
TrickyFreak
12. roland desh
Gee, I hope this isn't more of the same pile of shit the last four Dark Tower novel were. Even honey badger wouldn't eat that hot messy.
TrickyFreak
13. shadow
hi im excited for the new dark tower book beacuse there was no aftermath explined after the waste lands n wizzard glass but i realy hope
it foucuses more on the dark tower cala was a mess of a stroy n so was songs the last book was awesome besides the horibel ending that my take was no ending n made no sence does stevn king fall asleep when hes at the end of his storires ? but he still is a genious n 1 of my fav writers i hope he makes a book after the dark tower book a trilogy
one right out side the dark tower
2 n 3 in the dark tower in the readers view of the story please lets get a proper dark tower book insted of talking about it actuly more inside
TrickyFreak
14. Kingfan
Wow. Some of the people posting comments about King's books write as if they could never puzzle their way through a single chapter of the Dark Tower, let alone the whole series. Personally, I can't wait for this book. And to everyone who dumps on the ending of the series and all that, how, precisely, would you expect Roland's story to end? Sitting alone in a rocking chair in front of a fire, reminiscing about his gunslinging days? Hell no. Roland Deschain has lived so long, done so much, that there is no conceivable ending to please anyone. In a world where people time travel all over the place, it was the only ending that could work.
TrickyFreak
15. Just some bumhug
KingFan I could not have said it better myself. I love all the posts bashing the last of the DT novels but in the next sentence saying they can't wait for this new one. News flash if you were unable to comprehend those books and thought they were "steaming piles of shit" what makes you think you will understand this new one any better. You have forgotten the face of your fathers, cry Sai King's pardon may it do ya fine. For all the true tower fans I wait for the next installment with baited breath.
Sanctume Spiritstone
16. Sanctume
I liked Mr Kings comment about his DT series--paraphrased as, it's the journey not the destination.
TrickyFreak
17. susan marie
I'm very excited to see book 4.5 coming out soon. I will never tire of reading stories about Mid-World. For those of you who may have missed them - you should check out "Everything's Eventual", which is a collection of short stories. Included is a story called "The Little Sisters of Eluria," which features Roland before he started chasing the man in black across the desert. Also, get to your nearest comic book store and buy the Dark Tower comics. They are excellent, and will do the trick when you need a quick fix, you Tower Junkies, you.
TrickyFreak
18. Scuba Steve
Eh, why not? King can't fuck up this series any more than he has. Eddie, Jake and Oy dying in book seven, letting a weak character Mordred kill Flagg who a major villan in the Stephen King universe, maybe one of the best (worse?) villans in all literature, and then ending this 20 year epic story with the worst ending possible, Roland goes through a door at the top of the tower and ends up at the beginning of the first book. Oh by the way, spoiler alert.
TrickyFreak
19. DT 19
Spoilers ahead...
Wow, truly excited about this book. Picked up my first DT book when I was 13 years old, and have now followed Roland and his Ka-tet for 20+ years.
I have to disagree with some of the comments on this thread. Intially, I didn't like the ending of the series, but after reading it again and again I found that it was really the perfect ending...the only one that would make sense. And yes, after The Waste Lands the books changed in a way, but they are still wonderful novels and I wouldn't change them in any way. The only negative comment I will agree with is the demise of Flagg and how it happened. I was disappointed that the awesomely evil villian from the DT series, The Stand, and The Eyes of the Dragon (and possibly Hearts in Atlantis) would succomb to an infant...even if the infant was the offspring of Roland and the Crimson King. I was hoping that honor would go to Roland...but alas...as the Stones sing...we don't always get what we wanted.
I will be one of the first in line to buy this book and I pray that somehow the movies get made..and soon! Long days and pleasant nights my fellow trailmates
TrickyFreak
20. Egads12
ok, I am admittedly new to the DT series, having read all the books in a few months time last year around September and October. But I noticed one thing, was it not shortly after starting the 'Wolves of the Calla' that Jake and Oy had discovered the popkin's, the little berry muffin ball thing with a horn that you rip off and roll in between your hands to remove the bitter skin and eat it? I'm sorry Mr. King, but I enjoyed the series (Could have been better though) in all honesty; If I am wrong then my memory capacity when remembering good books has failed miserably since I was a child. But at any rate, the point I am getting at is you seem to be rewriting the course of the Ka-tet just ever so slightly, please check on this, and if I am wrong just call me crazy and stupid, lol.
TrickyFreak
21. John of Las Vegas
so many thoughts come to mind, I'm a die hard King fan from Carrie on...

First off, I wish I could have been the first to say that the ending of the DT series was the only fitting end to a tale so well woven. The Nay-sayers who disagree, well, come up with a better one! It's always been about the journey with Sai King... as with any good author. I've read many a book and seen many a film, and my general conclusion is that if you don't enjoy the journey, what possible destination will be fulfilling! I found comfort in midworld just as I found comfort in Nebraska... I found pleasures at the Overlook Hotel just as I found pleasures in Derry and Castle Rock. Most people will want closure in an ending. I find a tale well spun a much more enjoyable experience to the ending with absolute finality. I always enjoy the "what happens next" thoughts that come into my mind after a good read.

I can't wait for 4.5! Long Live Ka Tet
TrickyFreak
22. Jonnbenny
I heard today about the new book. I'm torn between excitement and distress. I'm one of those people who try to connect everything in my head when reading the DT (or anything King has written really, since it's all part of the same thing), and I'm scared of inconsistencies being created. although, that fear is really minor compared to how happy I was to walk with the tet again. this little bite really made me realize how much I miss being in Mid-world. I hope they never make the films.
TrickyFreak
23. D19b99
a popkin is a sandwich/pita pocket type thing. the muffin balls are muffin balls. you would know that id you actually paid attention to what you read, because the author introduced us to popkins in the second book when roland was in eddie's mind on the airplane. he asked the stuardess for a popkin, then he reads eddies mind and corrects himself by asking for a "sandwich". and he gets "tooter fish".
TrickyFreak
24. Billy Willy
Sk has deteriorated into a pathetic ball of greed and hubris, and this latest book is just another example of going to the well once too often. I admit that the first book was excellent, the next few still pretty good, but then, from 'Wolves' on, nothing but a pitiful cash-grab of cheap, churned-out trash. Was it enough to tie in characters as references to other books he had written as a means to get newer readers to buy old books? Well no, he had to incorporate HIMSELF as a main character and plot device, although I use that term loosely. Now, after reading the preview here, I see it's just more weak, mundane drivel by the world's most overrated writer. It should have been titled "ore Wind From Stephen King's Blow-hole."
TrickyFreak
25. cantstandAholes
Can someone please do sonething about the post by Scumba Steve at 18?
TrickyFreak
26. Kercelia
How wonderful! I had been missing the Dark Tower series so much that I began re-reading the books earlier this year. How exciting to know that Stephen King is giving us the gift of once more catching up with the ka-tet.
TrickyFreak
27. What?
If you are a fan of his work, perhaps you should try and understand the intermingling of it all. The end of the Dark Tower series flows with his own personal thoughts of Pergatory. Read his series of short stories in Everything's Eventual (see That Feeling You Can Only Say What It Is In French) and he gives the explaination that the ultimate torture is repitition. Many times during the series, Roland is tortured by repitition and is in his own personal Pergatory. In the end, he realizes what is about to happen causing ultimate pain, but we, as observers, are given a small bit of hope that things can change. While I don't worship the books like some folks, I do enjoy a good yarn when I am presented with one and I like to see the connections with his other works.
TrickyFreak
28. Chad of Midworld
The key is not shaped like a fish hook. It is the key that Eddie carved, remember the peculiar shape of the key with the squiggle at the end. I almost guarantee that it is the key they used to draw Jake through the speaking circle. This book is going to be really, severely EPIC.

Long days and pleasant nights.
TrickyFreak
29. Lena88
Only after reading all the DT? I'm ready to re-read it again and again, and I am happy that the King gives the opportunity to once again meet with Ronald and his ka-tet. These books are now forever in my mind, in my life in my heart. Hile Gilead ..
TrickyFreak
30. Cree
I agree with some of the people who have posted here about the ending of #7. How else should it have "ended"? My main problem was that it ended at all! I can't wait to inhabit that world again, even if it's not his best, or written well, or whatever! I get to live in Mid-World again with Oy and Roland and Eddie and Jake and Susannah. That's all I can ask for. I must admit I'm a bit worried about Ron Howard directing the film version. I mean, have you SEEN the Grinch????
TrickyFreak
31. AriesFury
I can't believe all the putdowns I just read. This saga is so infused with morals of whats right and wrong, of suffering and overcoming obsticals...it shows us an increadible bond between these few people (and oy) and how strongly they felt for eachother. It teaches humanity. I learned a great deal from this series. I read the first book when i was in a detox unit. These stories helped me through my addiction, and I really heald on to Eddie's strength through his struggle in book 2 and looked up to him then on. I love these books, and im happy to see a new story come out. Lastly, people hated the ending of book 7, and I myself had to re-read it a few times to make sure i was reading it right. I think it was a great ending. It reminds us that things, no matter how bad they are, can have hope for change, and one can get ather chace a making things right. Maybe then, once Roland learned all the lessons he needs to learn, can he find the peace he is looking and craving for. He also needs to learn how toforgive himself. Roland carries a great sorrow with hi,an it holds him back from finding peace. Anywhoo, long days and pleaseant nights.
TrickyFreak
32. Ka-Tet
I was eagerly anticipating this new chapter in the Dark Tower series and I can say my only dissapointment is that it weighs in at a little over 300 pages. I was hoping for a massive tome. That being said and no worries this is totally spoiler free (which some have to respect, ya ken?) this is book about storytelling with 3 (maybe 4) separate stories being told in this volume which probably makes this a short story collection than a novel. I was hoping it would be an adventure with the ka-tet but not to be. Roland and his gang are there only in passing, we get a flashback story and the title story, which is predictable but nonetheless entertaining. Dark Tower fans shouldn't miss out, although maybe I'm just greedy. (Hey, Steve-O...maybe there will be a follow up book? Tis is hinted? Thankee Sai).
TrickyFreak
33. Bend O' the Rainbow
Spolier warning!
It amuses me, the different experiences that Sai King's readers seem to have. As it has been said many times before, it is not the ending that defines a talented writer, it is the journey that they take you on before you get there. The Dark Tower had a bad ending? I think not. Roland is a part of the Dark Tower, and it is a part of him. Did no one else get that his choices along the way caused the ending to be what it was? True, he may never reach to ending he wishes, and yes, he may indeed have to watch his Ka-tet crumble and fall before him numerous times again. Don't forget though, that this time he has the Horn, and this time maybe, just maybe, he'll find the redemption he seeks. I'm on pins and needles to read the newest entry, and reconnect with Roland and his ka-tet, more a reunion with old friends I'd long since thought to never see again. Thankee Sai King, and may your days be long and nights be ever pleasant!
TrickyFreak
34. Cort
I will agree with most of the previous posters Sai King does not know how to end a book. In fact, DT was the only one of his works I ever truly enjoyed possibly because it kept going and going. I started this series in the early nineties when I was in junior high school and finished it a few years ago when I ran across the final novel in a book store. The ka-tet was dear to me and I considered the characters old friends. I can remember crying when Jake died because I had known him for so many years and had always seen him as an avenue for Roland's redemption. I understand the meaning behind the ending to the novel the never ending fight against evil, the cyclical nature of our lives and history, and the need for Roland to atone for the wrongs he had done in his quest for the tower. We all have our towers and we hurt and destroy to reach this thing we desire but do not understand. We hunger for the end (like the end to a book) but we forget about enjoying the journey. The thing that saddens me is that even with the aid of Athur's horn I fear Roland will never find redemption. By the time we come upon him in the Gunslinger he has already invested too much into finding the tower and few more lives however dear to us may just be a drop in the bucket to him. I always thought a book where the properties of the horn are discussed and illustrated would help me gain some insight into how it will help Roland live happily ever after with his ka-tet. Maybe some side novels, a parallel reality, were Roland saves Jake from falling under the mountain after the waystation and Roland postpones his quest for the tower. IDK just some false hopes from a romantic and lover of midworld.....

All that being said I don't think SK should have re-edited the old versions of DT to fit his whole "19" theme. He didn't have to change the old books to add more foreshadowing. The original works (Wizzard and Glass and before) were definately better in my opinion but in the end I love the characters and would read just about anything with them in it. I hope a movie does get made or perhaps a game where you actually get to change the outcome of the story. After all I am sure SK would agree this story and its characters is as much ours as it is his.

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