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Literature: The Waste Lands

Preceded by The Drawing of the Three.

The Waste Lands is Book III of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, released in 1991, has two parts. In the first, the Temporal Paradox the previous book created makes Roland begin to lose his mind. In the second, the ka-tet, now including the recently resurrected Jake continue their journey, get caught, escape and move on.

Followed by Wizard and Glass.

The Waste Lands provides examples of the following tropes:

  • After the End: In this book the results of the collapse of the Great Old Ones' civilization are made apparent in the eponymous Waste Lands. When looking at the horrific landscape and the nausea-inducing creatures that live there, Eddie is dumbstruck:
    "This was no nuclear war," Eddie said. "This...this..." His thin, horrified voice sounded like that of a child.
    "NOPE," Blaine agreed. "IT WAS A LOT WORSE THAN THAT, AND IT'S NOT OVER YET."
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Shardik, Blaine, and Patricia all went crazy years before the start of the series.
  • Arc Words: Among others, "Blaine is a pain."
    • Also "all things serve the Beam". Or, as Eddie says it, "all things serve the f***in' Beam."
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Shardik, a gigantic cyborg bear attacks the protagonists at the beginning of the book.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Especially 50-foot tall, millennia old parasite-ridden cyborg god bears.
  • Big Brother Bully: Eddie's big brother Henry is revealed to be one. Eddie seems to realize it for the first time.
  • Cliff Hanger: Mighty fine one. Readers had to wait six years for the resolution.
  • Cool Train: Blaine the Mono.
  • Dangerous Key Fumble: Jake has to go through a Haunted House to reach a magical doorway that will take him to the others in Mid-World. Just as the house comes alive and tries to eat him, he drops the key that will let him open the portal and it falls through the floorboards.
  • Driven to Suicide
    • Patricia, egged on by Blaine.
    • Blaine also plans on committing suicide.
    • Many Pubes and Grays when Lud starts going mad.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The citizens of Lud think it is this when Blaine begins running the city into the ground.
  • Fan Disservice: How the ka-tet holds off the Oracle.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Tick-Tock Man.
  • Genius Loci
    • The Plaster Man/Doorkeeper.
    • Blaine, who is actually just an extension of the computer that controls all of Lud.
  • Horny Devils: The Oracle. Sex with an incubus here is portrayed as very unpleasant and painful.
  • I Have Many Names: Richard Fannin says something similar to this.
  • Insult Backfire: Jake to Gasher:
    Jake: Go fuck yourself.
    Gasher: Why not? Give me a chunk of broken glass and I'll rip it right off and stick it right in, for all the good it's doing me these days.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Eddie asks Roland if billy-bumblers make good eating. Roland answers no, they're horrible: tough and gamy, and he'd sooner eat dog. When quizzed, he confirms that, yes, he's also eaten dog meat.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: The key.
  • Jerkass: Blaine. Dear God.
  • Kick the Dog: Gasher kicks Oy, in case we didn't realize that he's a villain.
  • Large and in Charge:
    • The Great Old Ones, who once ruled All-World, were much larger than regular humans, judging by the size of the seats inside Blaine's Barony Coach.
    • Tick Tock Man leads the Grays, and is described as much larger, healthier, and younger-looking. He may or may not be descended from the Great Old Ones.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Tick Tock Man is an enormous, chiseled specimen. When he draws his knife, Jake swears that he's as fast or faster than Roland. It doesn't help him one bit.
  • Literary Allusion Title: To T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land". Part of the poem is used as an epigraph and in-story Susannah quotes it.
  • Living Lie Detector: Blaine can determine if someone is lying with 97% accuracy by using voice analysis.
  • Madness Mantra: "SEE YOU LATER, ALLIGATOR. AFTER A WHILE, CROCODILE. DON'T FORGET TO WRITE"
  • Meaningful Name: The city of Lud, whose surface inhabitants have forgotten what technology is and now fear it. At one point near the end, the point is made explicit when they are referred to as Luddites.
  • Mordor: The titular Waste Lands, a vast area beyond the city of Lud which Roland and his ka-tet must cross with Blaine's dubious help.
  • Must Make Amends
  • Nightmare Fuel: invoked Charlie the Choo-Choo's smile disturbs all the characters.
  • No Indoor Voice
    • Blaine. The Big Blaine personality at least.
    • Also true of Jake's father.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Or rather a "Not-See"
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Blaine forces our heroes to display their knowledge of... prime numbers! They must also come up with a riddle that Blaine can't solve. They can't until the next book.
  • Pokémon Speak: Oy is given his name because he repeats the word "boy" several times as "oy."
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Deconstructed. Roland remembers two versions of a certain crucial event, and it slowly drives him insane.
  • Serious Business: Riddles. Roland takes it personally when Eddie tells a stupid one. Back in the day, he also saw Cort kill a man for cheating in a riddling competition.
  • The Seventies: Jake comes from 1977.
  • Split Personality: Blaine has the A.I. version. Eddie refers to the two personalities (the aggressive one who TALKS IN CAPITALS and the quiet, sane one who doesn't) as Big Blaine and Little Blaine.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Roland reveals that he has an encyclopedic knowledge of riddles because they were Serious Business in Gilead.
  • Subverted Kids Show: Charlie the Choo-Choo is an example of a subverted kids' storybook.
  • Technically a Smile: Charlie the Choo-Choo's. No one trusts it.
  • Temporal Paradox
  • Wasteland Elder: Eddie daydreams about meeting some of these ("wise fuckin' elves!", he muses), who would give the ka-tet some food and supplies and maybe tell them the best route to the Dark Tower, when he sees the Lud skyline from a distance. He realizes, though, that the chances of them meeting anyone like that are slim to none (though they do meet some decent folk in River Crossing).
  • Would Hurt a Child: Gasher actually enjoys it.

The Drawing of the ThreeWestern LiteratureWizard and Glass
The Drawing of the ThreeFranchise/The Dark TowerWizard and Glass
The Drawing of the ThreeWorks By Stephen KingWizard and Glass
Wars of Light and ShadowLiterature of the 1990sThe Wayfarer Redemption
The Drawing of the ThreeFantasy LiteratureWizard and Glass
The Drawing of the ThreeHorror LiteratureWizard and Glass

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