The Waste Lands by Stephen King, is book #3 in the 7-book Dark Tower Series. (My reviews for books one and two can be found here).
The book picks up shorts after the end of book 2. Roland and his two new gunslingers, Eddie and Susannah, are beginning their quest to find the Dark Tower. They quickly find their way after meeting Shardik -- a 70-foot tall robotic bear, and "guardian of the beam" (the beam being basically an invisible path that leads to the tower).
Meanwhile, Roland is slowly going insane. When he entered the body of Jack Mort toward the end of book 2, he stopped Mort from pushing Jake Chambers into traffic, thus saving his life. This makes Roland wonder: If Jake never died, then Roland never met Jake at the waystation, and he never let Jake die under the mountains. Young Jake Chambers is going through the exact same thing back in 1970s New York -- did he die? is he alive? Jake shuffles through life, opening every door he sees, hoping that this door will be the one to take him back to Roland's world.
Jake ditches school during finals (when he opens his backpack to reveal an English paper he doesn't remember writing -- about Roland, trains, something named Blaine, and the Truth). He heads downtown and finds himself in a bookstore (owned by Calvin Tower, of course) where he feels the need to buy two books: Charlie the Choo-Choo (a kids book about a train) and Riddle-Dee-Dum (a book of riddles with the answers torn out). Outside, he happens upon a vacant lot, and inside, the most beautiful rose he has ever seen -- and he knows that it must be protected at all costs.
Back in Roland's world, Eddie has dreams and visions that help him formulate a plan to bring Jake over to their where/when from New York, and eventually the ka-tet of Eddie, Roland and Susannah get Jake over to their where/when and they continue their journey. Along the way, they meet Oy (my second favorite, after Eddie), a racoon-like creature called a Billy Bumbler, and Jake insists that he join them on their quest.
Eventually, they come to an ancient city called Lud (which looks very much like New York), and Jake is taken captive by a man named Gasher, member of the Grays faction of Lud (the opposing faction are the Pubes). Gasher's leader is the Tick Tock Man, and they live beneath the city in an ancient bomb shelter. Roland and Oy rescue Jake, and shoot up the bomb shelter, leaving everyone there for dead (Tick Tock is actually not dead, and is saved by the Ageless Stranger, who we know as Randall Flagg from The Stand).
Meanwhile, Eddie and Susannah race across the city to find a train (who goes by the name of Blaine) that can take them out of Lud and across the Waste Lands, over 800 miles closer to the Tower. Blaine will only take them if they entertain him with riddles. Blaine intends to commit suicide with Roland and his team on board, unless they can stump him with a riddle that he can't answer….
And its there that the book comes to a rather strange and sudden ending.
In rereading these first three books, I'm sort of disappointed now to have to move on to Wizard and Glass -- a book I enjoyed so much when it first came out, but now I'm too impatient to get back to the story and don't want to have to sift through hundreds of pages about Roland and Susan and Cuthbert. I'm thinking if I have time, I'll read Salem's Lot again before reading the Wolves of the Calla, so I can try and remember the details about Pere Callahan. Looking forward to getting back into the story, for sure.