The Wind through the Keyhole (Dark Tower Series)

The Wind through the Keyhole (Dark Tower Series)

by Stephen King


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In a storytelling tour de force, Stephen King explores an uncharted corner of the Dark Tower universe—and the early days of the gunslinger Roland—with the twice-told tale of a murderous shape-shifter, a “skin-man,” who inspires fear and wonder, fantasies and bedtime stories, and one boy’s savagely real nightmares.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451658910
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 11/06/2012
Series: Dark Tower Series , #8
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.08(h) x 0.78(d)

About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.


Bangor, Maine

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1947

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine


B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

Read an Excerpt

An excerpt from The Wind through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel by Stephen King


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 increasingly 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 longtime 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 discover 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


During the days after they left the Green Palace that wasn’t Oz after all—but which was now the tomb of the unpleasant 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 lowhanging 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 OUTLAND 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 onboard, she was a person to be reckoned 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 tentacle 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 Susannah 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 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, 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.


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. “Goodness me, I see it’s just gobble o’clock.”

“Shut up and push, honeybee,” Susannah said.

Eddie shut up and pushed.

The old man was sitting when they entered the boathouse, standing when they emerged on the river side. He saw the guns Roland and Eddie were wearing—the big irons with the sandalwood grips—and his eyes widened. He dropped to one knee. The day was still, and Roland actually heard his bones creak.

“Hile, gunslinger,” he said, and put an arthritis-swollen fist to the center of his forehead. “I salute thee.”

“Rise up, friend,” Roland said, hoping the old man was a friend—Jake seemed to think so, and Roland had come to trust his instincts. Not to mention the billy-bumbler’s. “Rise up, do.”

The old man was having trouble managing it, so Eddie stepped aboard and gave him an arm.

“Thankee, son, thankee. Be you a gunslinger as well, or are you a ’prentice?”

Eddie looked at Roland. Roland gave him nothing, so Eddie looked back at the old man, shrugged, and grinned. “Little of both, I guess. I’m Eddie Dean, of New York. This is my wife, Susannah. And this is Roland Deschain. Of Gilead.”

The riverman’s eyes widened. “Gilead that was? Do you say so?”

“Gilead that was,” Roland agreed, and felt an unaccustomed sorrow rise up from his heart. Time was a face on the water, and like the great river before them, it did nothing but flow.

“Step aboard, then. And welcome. This young man and I are already fast friends, so we are.” Oy stepped onto the big raft and the old man bent to stroke the bumbler’s raised head. “And we are, too, aren’t we, fella? Does thee remember my name?”

“Bix!” Oy said promptly, then turned to the northwest again, raising his snout. His gold-ringed eyes stared raptly at the moving column of clouds that marked the Path of the Beam.

Customer Reviews

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The Wind Through the Keyhole: A Dark Tower Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
W.G. Atherton More than 1 year ago
I would have to give this book a strong five star rating just from what I have read thus far. I have a rather large library of Mr. King's books and must say that I have yet to find one that I found easy to put down.
Anonymous 27 days ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally loving the Dark Tower series!
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although it says right on the cover that The Wind Through the Keyhole is a Dark Tower novel, it is really only set in the Dark Tower universe, rather than an integral part of the series. Of course, Dark Tower fans will want to read it and spend a little more time with their favorite characters (very little, as it turns out). But even if you haven't read any of the books in the series, you will have no trouble following the events in The Wind Through the Keyhole. Its flavor is more reminiscent of King's young adult fantasy The Eyes of the Dragon than any of his horror novels.The structure is a story within a story within a story, like a set of nesting dolls. Roland and his ka-tet from the Dark Tower books appear only at the very beginning and end, as they hunker down during a sudden storm and Roland tells them a story around the campfire. Their only purpose is to listen to the two stories and provide a context in which the stories take place.The first story is from Roland's life as a young gunslinger, before he set out on the quest for the Dark Tower. It occurs immediately after he is tricked into murdering his mother, and a large part of the sub-text is Roland struggling to forgive himself for that act. (This is not a spoiler, by the way; King supplies this information in the introduction for readers who may not have read the Dark Tower novel that relates Roland's back story, Wizard and Glass.) Roland's father sends him and another gunslinger, Jaimie deCurry, to a remote village to deal with a shapeshifter (or "skin-changer") who has been savagely murdering people. The story illustrates another function of the gunslingers, as law enforcement and white knights whose main mission was to aid the innocent.In the course of investigating the murders, Roland takes the only witness into custody, a young boy. While keeping him company, Roland tells him a story: a fairy tale that his mother told him when he was sma'. This story takes up the bulk of the book. It is about a boy whose father was killed and who goes on a quest for magic to help his mother after she is savagely beaten. In the mix of fantasy and science fiction that characterizes the Dark Tower universe, he encounters fairies, dragons, mutants, long-abandoned technology and even the wizard Maerlyn. He also runs into the Man in Black, which will please Dark Tower fans.This novel is readable and entertaining, as King's books usually are. However, I found it to be fairly light reading, not nearly as enjoyable or meaty as King's last novel, 11/22/63. Because of the story within a story within a story conceit, the book reads more as a series of short stories than a novel, and the fairy tale section was a bit juvenile, which was jarring contrasted with the more horrific shape-shifter story. I enjoyed re-entering Roland's strange world, though, and I certainly would like to go back there again, if King has more Dark Tower stories in him. I have a feeling he does.
StephenBarkley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
They're back¿almost.Sure, Stephen King manages to insert his Dark Tower oriented multiverse into most of the novels he writes, but this one's different. In the introduction, King suggests shelving it between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. This is Dark Tower 4.5.The structure of this book is interesting. It's a story within a story within a story with connections (beyond the obvious) between the narrative levels. The framing narrative is a violent storm that traps Roland and his crew for a while. During the storm, Roland told a story about his younger days. In those younger days, Roland told a story which forms the heart of the book.The central story is the best. It's a coming of age tale about a boy who bests a familiar enemy. The middle story is feels too contrived and predictable. The outside narrative is just there to make this an official Dark Tower volume.I enjoyed the story. Anyone who has read the 7 Dark Tower volumes will want to pick this one up. It just feels like a bit of a let-down that Roland's current ka-tet wasn't called into action.
shabacus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a fan of the Dark Tower series, I approached this book without any objectivity whatsoever. I love the universe of this series, and its characters, but was quite frustrated by the direction the series took in its last two books. (In case you're wondering, I'm not referring to the ending, but the metafictional aspects.)The Wind Through The Keyhole offered pretty much everything I like out of this series with nothing I didn't. All three stories were engaging, although I got rather less of the ka-tet than I might have liked. My only complaint is that the structure stole power from the flashback story, since it was broken in the middle. I wonder how differently the book might have read under a different structure?But all in all, it was a small complaint in a book that I enjoyed very much. If you haven't read any other volumes in the series, I wouldn't start here. But for the faithful, it doesn't disappoint.
klarsenmd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I so love Roland and his ka-tet! What a pleasant little surprise this was for me. Long after the final dark tower book was released, we are gifted with this tale within a tale within a tale. Roland and the gang are riding out a vicious storm when he begins to tell them about his time tracking a skin-walker. Embedded in this tale is the true meat of the book, a fable from his childhood about Tim Stoutheart. It is beautifully written and crafted in mid-world, but a story of bravery anyone could appreciate. I think I enjoyed this so much because I love the stories of Roland as a boy (my favorite being of course the Wizard and Glass). We are given the chance to see what shaped him into the gunslinger he is today. This was short by King's standards-- only 300 pages. Despite this, it transported me into the beloved world of the Ka-tet. Great for lovers of the series, but I am sure it would stand on it's own prettty darn well and for that I say Thankyee sai.
puttocklibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a joy to read another story set in the mid-world of the Dark Tower!Stephen King re-visits Roland's ka-tet as they journey towards the Calla (between Wizard & Glass, and Wolves of the Calla), and are forced to seek shelter from a violent and rare storm. While they wait for it to pass, Roland tells a story of his younger years, and within that true tale, a bed-time story his mother used to tell, a story which taught him how to recognize the coming of the storm they are now waiting out...
irisdovie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a story within a story within a story. The gunslinger and his ka-tet are holed up in a sturdy building waiting for a storm to pass, and the gunslinger tells a story of when he was young and had to find a shapeshifter who was killing people. Young Roland tells a story to a young man, of a boy who ventures into a dark forest to save his mother's eyesight.
mumfie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So, episode 4.5. On the one hand I would like an eternity of Dark Tower books, filling in all details and fleshing out stories. On the other hand, it's never worth over doing a story line.This is a stand alone story in its own right. As ever, if you're a DT aficionado you will pick up references to the bigger stories, if you're not you won't. It's a story within a tale within the journey to the dark tower, although that does little more than set the scene for the tale.The story is Mid-World's equivalent of a Grimm fairy tale. Only as it's Mid-World it's nastier and scarier. A boy faces up to challenges beyond his years, showing the strength that will ultimately turn him into a gunslinger.The tale is one of Roland's youth, of inexperienced gunslingers being sent to deal with an unusual problem.It's a joy to read a new tale of the DT, but this is a bonus to the main story, offering no additional depth to the quest for the DT. That aside, it's an enjoyable addition to the collection. Not SK's best but good enough.
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
With a dangerous storm about to roll over them, Roland and his Ka-tet seek shelter to wait it out. While they wait, Roland tells them two stories, one nested inside the other; of his second assignment as a Gunslinger, and the fairy tale he told a scared young boy while he was waiting for that investigation to progress; one that his own mother, so recently dead by his own hand, had read to him as a boy.Being a late insert, The Wind Through the Keyhole doesn¿t add an enormous amount to the primary storyline and is very much about getting a deeper glimpse into Roland¿s past through a flashback story, and a diverting fairy-tale which, given the magic and strange tech in Roland¿s where and when, reads rather less like a fiction of his world, than an actual recounted story, and adds a beautifully rich layer itself. I was pleased to find that I didn¿t find this absence of Dark-Tower focus frustrating, and was able to enjoy the sidelining for what it was¿ a little extra helping of Mid-World and the role of the Gunslinger. As an added extra, the fairy tale has some bumblers in it... any time King wants to write a book about Billy Bumblers, I¿ll be happy to read it. That said, without the quest being the highlight, the book lacks some of the intensity of its brethren volumes, even Wizard and Glass which it most resembles in style. Still, within the constraints of being sandwiched between four books on one side and three on the other, The Wind Through the Keyhole delivers a self-contained fireside tale that fits snugly and roams far at the same time. What a nice thing it is to have a Dark Tower novel that I¿ve only read once. I will certainly enjoy revisiting and savouring it all over again, although I don¿t think it will yield as many re-reads as the main set. Thank you for indulging your DT fans, Mr. King.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
King always delivers,!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very captivating!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3 great dark tower stories woven into one. A very nice complement to the series - which I found to be more enjoyable than the average Dark Tower volume.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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AngelinaAB More than 1 year ago
I have ALWAYS loved the Dark Tower series. ever since my co-worker introduced me to the story in the early 90"s and have been hooked. I actually cried with happiness to read of them together again. I am so thrilled to know that there will be a T.V. series or Movie not sure which hopefully T.V. the story is to long for a Movie it would be told better as a mini series just like The Stand. Thank you Stephen for giving me my friends back at least for alittle while. ;)
KirkusMacGowan More than 1 year ago
Of the original seven books in the Dark Tower series, book four, The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, was my favorite. This surprised me even at the time I read it because it read like a western rather than a sci-fi fantasy like the rest of the books in the series. I've never had much interest in the western book genre. When I heard TWTK (The Wind Through the Keyhole) brought back young Roland soon after he became a gunslinger, I was ecstatic. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book in the Dark Tower Series. Almost Gave it Four Stars About halfway through the book, I felt I'd been had, that I was tricked into buying this book I thought involved young Roland. He is involved, but only for ten to fifteen percent of the book at most. We start with Roland Deschaine as an adult, traveling with Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy. Expected since that's who Roland had with him at this point in the series. I assumed he'd tell a story about his younger days as a gunslinger, and he did. But this is the part when I became a little upset. Young Roland goes on to tell a story of his own. We end up three levels deep in this story. The storyteller tells of a storyteller telling a story! It was easy to follow, so that wasn't an issue, but I bought TWTK to read about young Roland Deschaine, Gunslinger of Gilead. I've been a Stephen King fan for years so I stuck it out and I'm glad I did. The story young Roland tells is in fact, a great story. After I got past my little whine fest, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. There are lessons to be learned, magical elements, a new race of "muties," and as always, the beam. We learn the story of a young man (eleven years old, I believe) whose father was recently killed by a dragon of some sort. He and his mother fight for survival in a harsh world. Just when they believe they've found their savior, King throws a twist in there to mess everything up. The young man's journey to save his mother, and himself, take us on a wild adventure filled with magic, terror, and suspense. Even with my previous complaint, TWTK is one of the better Stephen King novels I've read. I still wish we'd seen more of young Roland. Who knows? Maybe King will add yet another book to the Dark Tower Series one day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i think that this 1 very very good i loved it i got so deep in the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was instantly transported to the eerie, mystical Mid-World for a story that reads like a well loved fairy tale. Full of discovery and adventure but with an undertone of emotional reactions and richly drawn characters that feel totally authentic. We discover surprising events of Roland's youth and come to admire his stregnth as well as his vunerabilities. A wide array of people are well met on the journey, drawing the reader into a complex and ultimately satisfying story. I was sad for it to end so soon. This is the best kind of tale, taking us on a wild, wonderful ride into a magically different world complete with culture, customs and language all its own. It was almost like a pilgrimmage visiting Roland's world again. And, as the author says in the forward, It was a gift to discover my old friends again, years after I thought their stories were told.
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drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
Stephen King has been on a roll recently (particularly with the awesome 11/22/63), but The Wind Through the Keyhole is an exception. Unlike the previous gunslinger novels, the main characters are completely absent from the plot, except as storytellers for the tale-within-a-tale. But missing our favorite friends aside, the story itself was a drag. And just as the dull tale kept meandering around, another story was shoved right inside that one. Just way too much storytelling and not enough action to keep me captivated. The end did pick up a little, but by that point I just wanted it to end quickly. Sorry, but this attempt to revitalize the gunslinger series was a swing and a miss