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Literature / Wizard and Glass

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Preceded by The Waste Lands.

Wizard and Glass is Book IV of Stephen King's Epic Fantasy series The Dark Tower. It was published in 1997. The series' main plot takes a backseat as readers are treated to an extended Flash Back of a tale of love and heroism from Roland's past.

To see the character sheet for the whole book series, go here.

Followed by Wolves of the Calla.

Wizard and Glass provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Bad boys want bad girls, as well. Coral Thorin and Eldred Jonas shack up. They each state that the other is the best lay they've ever had.
  • All Witches Have Cats: Rhea has a mutant cat named Musty, who has six legs and a forked tail. She uses it to carry messages.
  • Arc Villain: Randall Flagg once again serves as this in the frame tale set during the main quest as he once again tries to convince Roland and his companions to abandon their quest to the Dark Tower. He is a Greater-Scope Villain in the main flashback narrative.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Roland to Jonas. "Who sent you west, maggot?"
  • Artifact of Doom: Maerlyn's Balls.
  • Back Story: Pretty much the entire book is this to the rest of the series.
  • Bad Moon Rising: Specifically, the Demon Moon is considered a bad omen.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Susan is sweet, kind and stunningly beautiful.
  • Being Watched: Rhea, and others, are able to do this through Maerlyn's Rainbow.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Rhea uses her pet snake as a vibrator.
  • Big Bad: Eldred Jonas, the leader of the Big Coffin Hunters and a failed gunslinger serves as this for the main backstory narrative. He is The Dragon to John Farson who ordered him to steal oil from the people of Hambry however he meets a young Roland Deschain and his ka-tet who intend on stopping him.
  • Black Comedy: A joke about a literal dead baby is vital to the plot.
  • The Chessmaster: Eldred Jonas quickly figures out Roland and his ka-tet are more than they appear to be, and it comes down to both sides pretending to be unaware of the other's intentions while waiting for the right moment to make their move. Jonas even discusses the trope while playing Variant Chess.
  • Character Development: After relating what happened to Susan, Roland makes a joke for the first time. Eddie and Susannah are very stunned by this.
  • Chosen Conception Partner: Susan has been promised to the town mayor, ostensibly because his wife is barren but actually to ensure he's too worked up with anticipation to intervene in the conspiracy.
  • *Click* Hello: The first confrontation between the gunslingers and the Big Coffin Hunters features a chain of one after another.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Jonas and Coral are having sex when they hear the oil patch getting blown up by Roland's team. They don't stop, because they "had reached the point where it was impossible to stop, even under threat of death or dismemberment."
  • Comedy as a Weapon: Eddie vs. Blaine.
  • Crossover: The protagonists enter the universe of The Stand, post-Captain Trips.
  • Crystal Ball: The Grapefruit. Later revealed to be an Artifact of Doom.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Susan's death mainly foster's Roland's growing isolation and determination to right the wrongs of an existing world as a gunslinger.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In the climatic battle, Roland, Cuthbert and Alain cut through the bad guys' force like a hot knife through butter.
  • Dirty Cop: All the Mejis lawmen are in on the conspiracy.
  • Dirty Old Man: Hart Thorin, to a T.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Eldred is theoretically subservient to Kimba Rimer, but he really just does what he pleases and eventually has him killed.
  • Evil Counterpart: Eldred, a failed gunslinger, to Roland. Also Eldred's falling into a hardbitten sexual relationship with Coral Thorin contrasting with Roland and Susan's youthful true love.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Mejis is this to Mexico.
  • A Fête Worse than Death: Charyou tree!
  • Gargle Blaster: The "Camel Piss" jug in the bar, which Sheemie fills with the remnants of the customers' unfinished drinks. The bartender sells double shots of the mixture for next to nothing; even though it smells and tastes awful, enough broke/desperate customers show up to empty the jug almost every night.
  • Geodesic Cast: Roland's two ka-tets.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: John Farson, whom we never meet in person in any of the novels. And even he ultimately was a pawn, witting or otherwise, of the Crimson King. Randall Flagg also serves as this for Roland Deschain in the flashback narrative.
  • The Gunfighter Wannabe: Jonas failed to become a gunfighter and was sent west. Doesn't mean he's not dangerous, of course.
  • The Gunslinger: Roland of course, but in this book we see other gunslingers, and failed gunslingers.
  • Hate at First Sight: Rhea hates the young and beautiful Susan when she's called up on to examine her purity because she's young and beautiful, which eventually becomes a huge snarled mess.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Roland by the end.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Roland is forced to admit that Eddie's stupid jokes and puns saved everyone from Blaine. He humbly apologizes for underestimating Eddie.
  • Immune to Bullets: Walter and Randall can't be hit with bullets from Roland's world. The ones from Jake's, however...
  • Interspecies Romance: Rhea and her snake, which was once a human rival.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty:
    • Clay Reynolds and Coral Thorin survive the events of the story, but the narration lets us know that they were both killed shortly thereafter in an unrelated shootout.
    • Rhea the witch causes most of Roland and Susan's misery, culminating in her and Susan's Aunt Cornelia burning Susan at the stake. Roland just says she died, and implied that he hunted her down personally to kill her to avenge Susan and for tricking him into killing his mother.
  • Language Fluency Denial: Two ways. The thugs guarding Susan after she's captured pretend not to be fluent in English when Olive orders them to let her go. Olive, for her part, pretends not to speak Spanish in order to maintain the polite fiction that they "can't understand" her—as long as they're still willing to pretend she has some authority, she still has a chance of saving Susan, but if she pushes them to defy her openly, she has nothing.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: It's implied the whole town fell to ruin after Susan's death and for being complicit in such a conspiracy. Roland never returned as far as he tells us, but they certainly weren't happy.
  • Logic Bomb: Faced with an insane but brilliant A.I. that has challenged them to a riddle contest, Eddie forces it to guess the punchlines of bad jokes. It guesses them correctly, but doing so causes it great strain. Under a barrage of them, each more illogical than the last, Blaine finally short-circuits.
    "Why did the dead baby cross the road? Cause it was stapled to the chicken, you dopey fuck!."
  • The Man Behind the Man: Kimba Rimer for Mayor Thorin, and John Farson for Eldred.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: A theme of the entire series, but this book explicitly discusses the concept.
  • Mexican Standoff: What could be the most over-the-top straight version ever. Depape holds Sheemie hostage, Cuthbert gets the drop on him with a slingshot, Reynolds points a gun at Cuthbert, Alain sneaks up on Reynolds and puts a knife to his throat, Jonas puts a gun to Alain's temple, and Roland gets behind Jonas with a knife to his back.
  • Minion Shipping: Eldred and Coral.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Speculated to be the cause of Susan's aunt's heart attack. She dropped dead on the spot when hearing Susan's last words.
    • The rest of the town has a moment of clarity during the mob frenzy that could count as this, as well. Susan is being burned at the stake, and when she screams her last words, "ROLAND, I LOVE THEE!" the mob remember that she's just a teenage girl who doesn't deserve this, but by then it's too late to save her.
  • My God, You Are Serious!
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe example; Susannah says that she used to have nightmares about the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.
  • Noodle Incident: Roland indicates that he eventually hunted down and killed Rhea, but we never get any details.
  • No Sense of Humor
    • Roland, at least relative to Eddie, who cracks too many dead baby jokes. Roland actually gets pretty pissed at Eddie's "ridiculousness" at various points, only to end up apologizing once it saves them all.
    • Blaine can guess the punchlines of jokes, but he hates the illogical nature of them, to the point that they can become a Logic Bomb.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Cuthbert. If he's not smiling or joking around, expect serious shit to go down.
  • Reality Bleed: This is the first book where it really starts to happen. There is the city of Topeka, Kansas from the alternate universe of The Stand merging with Midworld. Also notable is the introduction of Randall Flagg from The Stand as being the same Man in Black from The Gunslinger.
  • Real Men Have Short Hair: Eldred Jonas, leader of the Big Coffin Hunters, sports a head of long white hair. Some characters disparage it, saying he has a girl's hair, but notably no one will do it with Jonas in earshot.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Roland unleashes one on Blaine. (Blaine gets so angry that he interrupts Roland before he could finish it).
    I could call you a sucker of cocks, for instance, but you have no mouth. I could say you're viler than the vilest beggar who ever crawled the lowest street in creation, but even such a creature is better than you; you have no knees on which to crawl, and would not fall upon them even if you did, for you have no conception of such a human flaw as mercy. I could even say you fucked your mother, had you one. I can call you a faithless creature who let your only companion kill herself, a coward who has delighted in the torture of the foolish and the slaughter of the innocent, a lost and bleating mechanical goblin who-
  • Red Right Hand: Eldred Jonas has white hair, a limp and a quavery voice, all of which are apparently the result of the traumatic beating he received when he failed his trial to become a gunslinger. His failure is probably the reason why he's such a scumbag.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When faced with Rhea trying to seduce him, and perhaps sensing that she won't take rejection well, Sheemie claims that he can't accept on account of his penis having fallen off. Rhea is too busy laughing at the bizarreness of the excuse to be insulted.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Roland loses his virginity to a prostitute shortly after completing his gunslinger training early.
  • Shout-Out: The climax directly recreates the climax of The Wizard of Oz.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Roland and Susan.
  • Stout Strength: The bouncer at the Mejis bar has an enormous belly.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Tick-Tock Man gets saved by Richard Fannin (or Randall Flagg?) only to have him die by the hands of the ka-tet as soon as he reappears.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Using a Logic Bomb.
  • Tattooed Crook: The Big Coffin Hunters all have a tattoo of a blue coffin on their hands.
  • Their First Time: "If you love me, then love me."
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Mejis.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Rhea hypnotizes Susan and orders her to cut off her hair after losing her virginity. However, when she tries it, Roland stops her.
  • True Love Is Boring: Lampshaded by Roland, who says the name of the trope, explaining that "once the tale of encounter and discovery is told, kisses quickly grow stale and caresses tiresome" — except of course for the ones who exchange in them. Therefore, he glosses over the happy part of the love story between him and Susan, only detailing the complex courtship and the tragic end.
  • The Western: "Is it a Western?" "All Roland's stories are Westerns."
  • What Could Have Been: In-universe. Susan is immensely charmed when she meets Cuthbert, and briefly allows herself to wonder how things might have been different if she had met Cuthbert first instead of Roland.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: At the end of the flashback, Roland's mother gives him a belt. He promises to tell his ka-tet the story of how he lost the belt, "for it bears on my quest for the Tower." Whether he tells the ka-tet or not, he never tells the reader; the belt is never mentioned again either in the main series or in any of the side materials.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The majority of the novel is the story of how Roland met Susan Delgado and her fate.
  • Wicked Witch: Rhea. Played dead straight.
  • Worth It: When Susan is taken to be executed, she recalls what Roland told her when they first met: "Thankee-sai, we’re well met." She feels that despite what is about to happen, they had been very well met, indeed.
  • Your Mom: Eddie to Blaine: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Or, as we used to say back in the neighborhood, 'You can rank me to the dogs and back, but I'll never lose the hard-on I use to fuck your mother.'"
    • Roland to Blaine: "I could even say you fucked your mother, had you one."