I’m a Dark Tower fan, even enjoying the later books better than others, but I wasn’t chomping at the bit to read this book. As far as I was concerned, the story of Roland’s ka-tet was over. I’d closed the cover on the last book and moved on.
What I’ve learned reading this book is though I’m not interested in hearing more “what happened between the books” stories about Roland, I’d love to get more stories that take place on his world. The story of Roland and company surviving a starkblast is really just a framing device for two other stories.
The first is another from Roland’s youth. He and a fellow young gunslinger travel to a distant town to investigate deaths related to a skin-man, which is like a werewolf on steroids. That story is entertaining but slight.
The second story, which gives the book its name, is the real meat of the book. It’s about a boy, Tim, who lived in Mid-World’s distant past. After his father dies, his mother remarries her husband’s partner, who quickly turns abusive. After a brutal attack that leaves her blind, Tim is set on a quest to find the wizard Maerlyn deep within the woods his town borders. Like the early Dark Tower stories, it’s a mix of old-fashioned fantasy with modern sensibilities. It makes the book.
I’d give this 3.5 stars if possible because while it isn’t really a four star read, three stars seems too slight.