The Waste Lands (Dark Tower Series #3) (Revised Edition)

The Waste Lands (Dark Tower Series #3) (Revised Edition)

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The Third Volume in the Epic Dark Tower Series…
The Waste Lands

In 1978, Stephen King introduced the world to the last gunslinger, Roland of Gilead.  Nothing has been the same since. More than twenty years later, the quest for the Dark Tower continues to take readers on a wildly epic ride. Through parallel worlds and across time, Roland must brave desolate wastelands and endless deserts, drifting into the unimaginable and the familiar. A classic tale of colossal scope—crossing over terrain from The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, Insomnia, The Talisman, Black House, Hearts in Atlantis, ’Salem’s Lot, and other familiar King haunts—the adventure takes hold with the turn of each page.

And the tower awaits....

Roland, The Last Gunslinger, moves ever closer to The Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares—as he crosses a desert of damnation in a macabre world that is a twisted image of our own. With him are those he has drawn to this world: street-smart Eddie Dean and courageous wheelchair-bound Susannah.

Ahead of him are mind-rending revelations about who and what is driving him. Against him is arrayed a swelling legion of foes—both more and less than human....

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451210869
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/02/2003
Series: Dark Tower Series , #3
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.35(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stephen King lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. He has written more than forty books and two hundred short stories. He has won the World Fantasy Award, several Bram Stoker awards, and the O. Henry Award for his story “The Man in the Black Suit,” and is the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

His Dark Tower books include: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower.


Bangor, Maine

Date of Birth:

September 21, 1947

Place of Birth:

Portland, Maine


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

Read an Excerpt


JAKE HAD NO CLEAR memory of the time which followed, and that was probably merciful. He had left his world over a year before nine hundred people would commit suicide together in a small South American country called Guyana, but he knew about the periodic death-rushes of the lemmings, and what was happening in the disintegrating undercity of the Grays was like that.

There were explosions, some on their level but most far below them; acrid smoke occasionally drifted from the ventilator grilles, but most of the air-purifiers were still working and they whipped the worst of it away before it could gather in choking clouds. They saw no fires. Yet the Grays were reacting as if the time of the apocalypse had come. Most only fled, their faces blank O's of panic, but many had committed suicide in the halls and interconnected rooms through which the steel sphere led Roland and Jake. Some had shot themselves; many more had slashed their throats or wrists; a few appeared to have swallowed poison. On all the faces of the dead was the same expression of overmastering terror. Jake could only vaguely understand what had driven them to this. Roland had a better idea of what had happened to them-to their minds-when the long-dead city first came to life around them and then seemed to commence tearing itself apart. And it was Roland who understood that Blaine was doing it on purpose. That Blaine was driving them to it.

They ducked around a man hanging from an overhead heating-duct and pounded down a flight of steel stairs behind the floating steel ball.

"Jake!" Roland shouted. "You never let me in at all, did you?"

Jake shook his head.

"I didn't think so. It was Blaine."

They reached the bottom of the stairs and hurried along a narrow corridor toward a hatch with the words ABSOLUTELY NO ADMITTANCE printed on it in the spiked letters of the High Speech.

"Is it Blaine?" Jake asked.

"Yes-that's as good a name as any."

"What about the other v-"

"Hush!" Roland said grimly.

The steel ball paused in front of the hatchway. The wheel spun and the hatch popped ajar. Roland pulled it open, and they stepped into a huge underground room which stretched away in three directions as far as they could see. It was filled with seemingly endless aisles of control panels and electronic equipment. Most of the panels were still dark and dead, but as Jake and Roland stood inside the door, looking about with wide eyes, they could see pilot-lights coming on and hear machinery cycling up.

"The Tick-Tock Man said there were thousands of computers," Jake said. "I guess he was right. My God, look!"

Roland did not understand the word Jake had used and so said nothing. He only watched as row after row of panels lit up. A cloud of sparks and a momentary tongue of green fire jumped from one of the consoles as some ancient piece of equipment malfunctioned.

Most of the machinery, however, appeared to be up and running just fine. Needles which hadn't moved








Oy looked up briefly at the sound of his name.


There was a moment of silence, broken only by the steady hard throb of the slo-trans turbines, bearing them on across the waste lands, bearing them on toward Topeka, the place where Mid-World ended and End-World began.


—from The Waste Lands: The Dark Tower III by Stephen King, copyright © 1991, 2003 Stephen King, published by Viking Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher."

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The reigning King of American popular literature.”—Los Angeles Daily News

“Enjoyable…whets the appetite for more.”—Bangor Daily News

“Splendidly tense—rip-roaring.”—Publishers Weekly

Reading Group Guide


"Roland's story is my Jupiter, a planet that dwarfs all the others…"

A General Introduction to Stephen King's The Dark Tower Novels

The Dark Tower books have followed a publishing arc unique in modern literature. Beginning with a now-legendary series of five short stories published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction—five stories which now comprise the first volume of the novel cycle—Stephen King has spent thirty-three years writing The Dark Tower. It stands today as a singularly ambitious work of quest literature, matched only by J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings fantasy epic. A series that operates beautifully as a single, stand-alone saga, The Dark Tower series also ties into and informs many other novels in Stephen King's fictional universe. King's vast galaxy of overlapping realms and characters—a galaxy that has been exhaustively annotated and analyzed by the author's peerlessly avid fan-base—outstrips even Faulkner's fabled Yoknapatawpha County as a wonder of narrative interconnectedness.

Though inspired by a wide range of literary antecedents and cultural archetypes, The Dark Tower saga was initially sparked by a course on the romantic poets at the University of Maine. It was here, King has said, that he first encountered a deeply enigmatic, richly symbolic poem by Robert Browning called "Childe Roland to The Dark Tower Came" (1855). King's object, dating back to his sophomore year in college, was to fashion a long novel that played on the conceits and constructs of the romantic aesthetic—to attempt a work that echoed the epic tone and atmospherics of Browning's poem, if not its explicit narrative line. Volume I, The Gunslinger, first appeared in hardcover in a limited edition from Donald M. Grant in 1982. The Plume trade paperback edition was published five years later and became a #1 national bestseller.

With Scribner's 2003 release of the fifth volume, Wolves of the Calla, and the culminating sixth and seventh volumes both slated for publication in 2004, Stephen King nears completion of what many argue is the crowning masterwork of a matchlessly prolific career. Of the undertaking, King has reflected, "I have written enough novels and short stories to fill a solar system of the imagination, but Roland's story is my Jupiter—a planet that dwarfs all the others (at least from my own perspective), a place of strange atmosphere, crazy landscape, and savage gravitational pull. Dwarfs the others, did I say? I think there's more to it than that, actually. I am coming to understand that Roland's world (or worlds) actually contains all the others of my making."

In which the Pilgrims commence their Way

About The Waste Lands: The Dark Tower III

Stephen King's third foray into Mid-World raises the stakes on all the mystery and quasi-Gothic romanticism established inThe Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger. At the same time, Stephen King continues and enhances here the artful fusion of gritty realism and extravagant fantasy that powered the action in The Drawing of the Three. Beginning with its title and its shades of Eliot at his most darkly portentous, The Waste Lands is perhaps the most ambitious work to date in the Dark Tower cycle, full of incisive psychological explorations and fast-paced, seamlessly episodic storytelling. And, despite its highly unresolved cliffhanger of an ending—or because of it—The Waste Lands is arguably the most popular and widely discussed volume in the series.

As he did with the Loser's Club in It and the Ad Hoc Committee in The Stand, Stephen King dramatizes the forging of an unlikely community and highlights the deeply complex bonds that develop among the ostensibly dissimilar figures who are united under the ka-tet: Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and even Oy the billy-bumbler. The Waste Lands also establishes the physics by which Roland's universe operates. Six beams run between twelve portals which mark the edges of Mid-World. Standing at the point where the beams cross at the center of the world—or the center of all worlds—is the Dark Tower.

Book One, subtitled "Fear in a Handful of Dust," chronicles the drawing of the real third—Jake Chambers. To effect this drawing, Roland and Jake must battle their own fraying psyches and achieve a reconciliation between their doubled memories regarding the paradoxical events (or nonevents) surrounding Jake's death(s). Book Two, subtitled "A Heap of Broken Images," takes readers to the city of Lud and finds the pilgrims again waylaid and separated from each other. All are tested on their gunslinging abilities before they ultimately find themselves en route to Topeka, where Mid-World ends and End-World begins, borne along at 800 miles per hour, in helpless thrall to the madly rambling riddle-lover called Blaine the Mono.

The Waste Lands ends here, with an eerie "moment of silence" in the wake of Roland's desperate final bargain with Blaine. "Try me with your questions," the mono taunts, "and let the contest begin."


By any measure, Stephen King occupies a central position in the recent history of literature in English, having produced a body of work that is as artistically vital as it is commercially prominent. His primacy in the horror-fiction canon in particular bears comparison to that of J.R.R. Tolkien's station among modern fantasy writers. And like Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and Sinclair Lewis before him, King has demonstrated over the course of his career a rare talent for limning the cultural zeitgeist and expressing the characteristic concerns of his era. The fact that he has worked largely within the parameters of the horror and fantasy genres in pursuing these ambitious ends makes his achievement all the more remarkable. Since his earliest works in the 1970s, King has been an author of matchless international reach, enjoying an enduring brand of popularity that transcends all presumed literary and commercial boundaries.

For all the darkness and terror with which King's narratives are generally associated, many critics and fans have argued that King's often brutal fictional universe belies a fundamental optimism about human nature. Richly populating his novels and stories with all manner of pop-cultural signifiers and pitch-perfect minutiae of American middle-class life, King's writing holds up a mirror of sorts and reflects that, even in a world of cynicism, despair, and seemingly infinite cruelty, it remains possible for individuals to find love, discover unexpected resources in themselves, and conquer their own problems, along with the malevolent powers that would suppress or destroy them.

Born in Portland, Maine in 1947, Stephen Edwin King is the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his parents separated when he was a toddler, King and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. He spent parts of his childhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Stratford, Connecticut; and Durham, Maine.

King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a degree in English. In January of 1971, he married Tabitha Spruce, whom he met in the stacks of the university library. Shortly after graduation, he began selling his first short stories to mass-market men's magazines. Many of these stories later appeared in the Night Shift collection and elsewhere. In the spring of 1974, Doubleday published King's first novel, Carrie. He has since written more than thirty-five books, all international bestsellers. His recent works include Everything's Eventual, From a Buick 8, Dreamcatcher, Bag of Bones, The Green Mile, and the nonfiction work On Writing. He is also the coauthor, with Peter Straab, of Black House and The Talisman. Under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, King has published several more bestselling works, including The Regulators, Thinner, and The Running Man. Most of his books have been adapted for the screen, including: Dreamcatcher (2003), Hearts in Atlantis, The Green Mile, Misery, Stand by Me (from "The Body"), Thinner, The Shining, Carrie, Christine, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Pet Sematary, Cujo, and Firestarter. Among King's forthcoming books are Wolves of the Calla: The Dark Tower V; Song of Susannah: The Dark Tower VI; and The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower VII.

A celebrated philanthropist and the father of three children, King lives in Bangor, Maine and Florida, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.


  • The Waste Lands is loaded with widely disparate cultural signifiers, from early-career Paul Newman to speed-metal bands to Frodo Baggins to Germany's Weimar Republic to Sugary Ray Leonard to King Arthur's Court. What is the effect of this kind of "kitchen-sink" referencing? Describe the tone of Stephen King's novel.
  • How would you characterize Eddie Dean's emotional health in this third novel? What is the nature and provenance of his mysterious connection with Jake Chambers? How does their wordless affinity play out over the course of this novel?
  • What is the nature of morality in Mid-World? Does King encourage a traditional good-and-evil reading of his novel? Explain. What fates and fortunes ultimately meet the novel's "evil" or immoral characters? What of the benevolent characters?
  • Upon finding the metal ID tag and learning that the giant bear was called Shardik, Eddie is struck by a faint twinge of recognition. The name Shardik triggers in Eddie a seemingly inexplicable association "with rabbits." What is Stephen King's sly joke here?
  • How might the work of Richard Adams, both his classic Watership Down as well as the lesser-known novel Shardik, relate to some of the larger themes—of cultural decay, of societal conflict, of nature versus civilization—that run through The Waste Lands?
  • In his bizarre dreamscape early in the novel, what book is Eddie holding in his hand as he walks along Second Avenue? What is King up to here?
  • Explain the elements of the great paradox—rooted in the events of The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three—underlying Roland and Jake's "doubled" memories and burgeoning madness.
  • Recount what happens at the campsite in the "Bear and Bone" section after Roland tosses the jawbone of the man in black into the flames. What do the three pilgrims see in the fire? How does this episode spark the events by which Roland and Jake finally reconcile the paradox that is driving them mad? How do the images of the key and the rose come to inform the ka-tet's quest?
  • Who are the Grays and the Pubes? What is the nature of their war?
  • Discuss the notion of the purple blade of grass. What role does this image play in the climax of The Gunslinger, and how does it reassert itself more expansively in book three?
  • Consider the novel's title and its direct evocation of T. S. Eliot's acclaimed poem. "The Waste Land" met with more than a little controversy when it was published in 1922, because it marked such a radical and wholly unprecedented departure from traditional poetic style and structure. What is "The Waste Land" about? How do its themes and images echo throughout King's third volume?
  • In what ways does Eliot's revolutionary style—his virtuosic layerings of literary and historical allusions, his unconventional language and meter, his lyrical fluidity, and his haunting preoccupation with decay—speak to King's own style in The Dark Tower?
  • Eliot's poem has been called a dark riff on the quest tradition in Western literature. Where does King's novel fit in this tradition? In detailing the journey of the human soul searching for redemption, Eliot's poem largely established the concerns of literature's modernist movement with its exploration of classical literary conceits and concerns through the lens of an unmistakably twentieth-century condition—existential dread. What bearing does this have on Roland's own search for redemption?
  • What does the future hold for the Tick-Tock Man? Recount the scenes between Tick-Tock and Jake. Under what circumstances do you expect to encounter Andrew Quick again in future Dark Tower novels?
  • What are the circumstances prompting the appearance of Richard Fannin? Who is he? When, both in The Dark Tower series and elsewhere in King's fiction, have we encountered or heard of a stranger such as Fannin? Is he linked to Flagg? Is he Flagg himself?
  • In connection with the previous question, discuss the innumerable character connections and thematic overlaps which exist among and between the Dark Tower novels and other King works—The Stand, The Eyes of the Dragon, Black House, Insomnia, Hearts in Atlantis, and many others.
  • Three novels into The Dark Tower cycle, what are some of the thematic and tonal connections have been established between Browning's "Childe Roland" and King's Roland? Reread Browning's poem. How does it conclude? Is Browning's Roland finished with his quest by the final line? What clues might the poem give us about what may be coming in the four remaining Dark Tower volumes?
  • Discuss the way King's novels have come to occupy their own private universe, one that operates according to the truism that everything serves the Beam. For example, where do we see such prominent Waste Lands motifs as the rose, the key, the tower, the door, and the turtle in other King works?
  • Discuss the final two sections of The Waste Lands, "Bridge and City" and "Riddle and Waste Lands." In classic adventure-serial style, Volume III ends with the mother of all cliffhangers. What was your reaction to King's decision to close his novel without providing any sort of resolution to the Blaine the Mono situation? What do you expect will be the outcome of Roland's dangerous bargain?
  • In his concluding "Author's Note," King indicates that Wizard and Glass, the fourth volume, will be primarily concerned with Roland's life as a young man. What are you most curious to learn about the gunslinger's history and his quest for the Dark Tower?
  • Customer Reviews

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    Waste Lands 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 540 reviews.
    JUSTIN Roberts More than 1 year ago
    This is a wonderful book but the digital copy could be better edited by a 7th grade child. Very poor copy.
    Jon Pearson More than 1 year ago
    Just to clear up a few things. Yes, there are some typographical mistakes in this book, but it's not bad at all (and that sort of thing bothers me). There's all of perhaps 5-10 misspellings throughout the entire book along side a handfull of inappropriate periods. The misspellings are simple too; things like "tne" instead of "the", or "uncomfortabte" instead of "uncomfortable". Yes, there are a few errors in the editing; but nothing that will distract you from the story. As for the story itself; I found the first portion to be a little slow; but the entire 2nd half was truly a great read. From the moment with the mansion forward, it was not one I wanted to stop reading. Don't skip this one just because of a few people complaining about a lack of 'perfect' formatting. It's really not bad at all.
    tia1106 More than 1 year ago
    About 100 pages are missing from the ebook version (the last 20 chapters of Part V). Really annoying to have to pick up the paper version in order to get caught up! This is why I have a nook! If this wasn't re-read of the series, I would have just been confused as to how Jake reappears from nowhere. Product problems aside, another great book in my favorite series of all time.
    Reader4Lyf More than 1 year ago
    This book is missing a few chapters in my download so be aware. It is missing the chapters between where Eddie and Susannah are heading to Blaine and the four of them actually get on the train. The chapters missing include Jake and the tick tock man and Blaine's introduction to Eddie and Sussannah.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love this book, but the editing is terrible. There are periods in the middle of sentences, and misspelled words aplenty. I find this very distracting while reading. I am disappointed that someone in the editing department could overlook all of these mistakes. I am planning on getting in touch with the publisher about this issue. If you don't mind being distracted with unnecessary punctuation and trying to decipher words, then I would recommend this edition. But if you're like me, it will just frustrate the heck out of you.
    Lou Fisher More than 1 year ago
    this the third in the darktower series gets you to a more comfortable place with roland the gunslinger who is quickly becoming not the last of his kind, as the story unfolds, you find yourself drawn towards the trio and the quest, getting involed in thier lives, loves and never ending dangers! it makes me want the next book more and more, even if this is not the first, second or third time reading it, the feeling is just as intense now as it was the first read some twenty plus years ago, just a awesome tale!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    CarisaTX More than 1 year ago
    I've been a Stephen King fan for years but have never really been interested in the gunslinger series. My husband has read all 7 books and has wanted me to read them... So, I started at the beginning, of course, with The Gunslinger. That one is a bit slow, but The Drawing of Three is very good, and The Wastelands even better! You fall in love with the characters and the action keeps you wanting to know what happens next. I am officially hooked on the Dark Tower series! You will be, too!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is actually my favorite put of the first three that i have read. This series is a must have for anybody 15 and older
    Wines01 More than 1 year ago
    I decided to re-read all the Dark Tower books, starting at the very beginning, to acquaint myself again with the story before reading the newest Dark Tower book. I'm very glad I did! The characters are so artfully woven together in only a way Stephen King can do. I am enjoying it more now than when they were first published. I HIGHLY recommend picking up the series and taking a ride along the Beam to the Dark Tower.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Right now I'm reading Wolves of the Calla and I have to say that, so far, The Waste Lands is the best book in the series. It answers lots of questions (creating new ones in the process :D) so the expansion of the DT universe is almost as big as it is in Wizard And Glass. However, the best thing about the book is the thrilling first half (goose flesh guaranteed!)... The letdown is that maybe the excitement decreases in the second half... but the story it's still gripping!
    Linux More than 1 year ago
    The story continues to hold me captive. 66% completed The only things driving me completely mad are the random periods everywhere and the enormous amount of misspelled words. I know its not King's doing and thats the ONLY thing that has kept me from throwing my Nook and just go buy the rest of the series all over again in paperback.
    Anonymous 5 months ago
    pingobarg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    great series, i recommend it to anyone who ever had even a nodding acquantance with walt whitman
    Anagarika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    "Blaine is a pain." What else can I say?
    Phyrexicaid on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Chose four stars because I did "really like" it. Even more Stephen King brand weirdness than the second book, but that aside, well written, and it pulls you along. Didn't take long to devour the 500-odd pages.
    phaga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I could have done without this book. Not that it was horrible or anything, I still had fun reading it, but it just feels like the weakest link in the series.
    JohnMunsch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Not bad at all. King obviously feels comfortable with his characters and none of the books feels cranked out or a simple retread of what we've already read.
    sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The third installment of The Dark Tower series, which ends with one heck of a cliffhanger. I think the first three books of the series are absolutely the strongest, and while you will want to go on and read Wizard and Glass to resolve the story, the novels become noticeably weaker after this.
    bardsfingertips on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Finally: the novel happens. The landscape of the world in which the Gunslinger lives and treks changes and becomes more real to the reader. Two more characters permanently (one is a boy from New York City and the other a small animal called a billy-bumbler that mimics back human words with a sense of intelligence) join up with the Gunslinger's group.Some post-apocalyptic machinery takes place which takes the story from a Dalí-esque desert to a sci-fi analogue of a city (much like New York) in ruin that is governed by violent acts between two gangs of self-destructive marauders.I enjoyed this volume very much¿I just feel it was titled incorrectly. The actual land o' waste doesn't actually happen until the last 50 pages or so¿and I felt it was far too under-described¿but this is understandable considering the circumstances of Blain the Train¿ Still, I was expecting a Waste Land, and not just mere glimpses. Maybe this gets explored a bit in the next book(s)? We shall see!
    andyray on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    SK is tryiing for the university short list and eternal fame with this seven-book epic based on the poem by Robert Browning "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came." @The trouble is that the same thing that made anything he publishes turn to gold for him and everyone around him and his creations is the thing that probabl will keep him out of the university discussions. That quality is earthiness. Of course, he may surprise us all and become another Geoffrey Chaucer, known for period ribaldry and sexually-laced humour and violence. The series is a nut above normal for King, however, and this rsader is beginning to like these guys he keeps ujs stuck with -- not so much Roland himself, as he is stoo Godlike in protraiture, but Jeff and Oy for sure, and Susannah and whatsis name as well. That tells you lsomething, doesn't it? That I do not have a solid enogh picture of whatsis name to give you his name. I do not remember it. In fact, if you ask me out of the blue who the khet-ka team was, I wouldn't include him at all.The introduction of lRandall Flagg (and many other names) in the end of this book pjulled aside the curtains. This seven book series is an elaborately drawn ep0ic of THE STAND. What's that old song: "I can't ghet you out of my mind."?
    nightcrawler78 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    The Wastelands was ok. Not my favorite in the series but an enjoyable book nonetheless.
    hjjugovic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    So far this is my favorite in the series. The characterizations are strange but fascinating, and I loved the riddle plots and seeing more of the world that is passing away. Onward...
    Djupstrom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I never knew there could be so much walking in a book! For me it seemed this was a cross between The Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters, and some weird fairy tale kid's book. I just didn't get it.
    skinglist on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    My second favorite of the Dark Tower series. Really started to pull things together. Blaine Blaine.