When Stephen King finished 'The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower,' gunslinger Roland Deschain's long quest finally came to an end. It was a bittersweet moment for fans of what King has referred to as his magnum opus. On one hand, it was wonderful to finally reach the end of a voyage King himself was never sure he'd finish in this lifetime (and might not have given his tragic run in with a motor vehicle). On the other, it meant King's time in Mid-World was essentially over. Thinking about never returning to that land and seeing those characters again was a bit tough to swallow. At least news of Javier Bardem playing Roland in Ron Howard's film adaptation lessened the blow a bit.

It was apparently sad for the Master of Horror as well, because last week King announced that he's written a new book in the 'Dark Tower' universe. The latest installment is titled 'The Wind Through the Keyhole,' and should be hitting retailers sometime in 2012.

With Roland's adventure complete, King has decided to explore a period of time earlier in the quest. The new novel follows what happened to the main characters between the time when they left The Emerald City at the end of 'Wizard and Glass' and arrive on the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis at the beginning of 'Wolves of the Calla.'
King writes on his website that he started to find the thread of this new tale while copy-editing his newest release, 11/22/63 – a time-travel tale due out later this year. He sets the scene by describing how the idea formed in his head:

There was a storm, I decided. One of sudden and vicious intensity. The kind to which billy-bumblers like Oy are particularly susceptible. Little by little, a story began to take shape. I saw a line of riders, one of them Roland's old mate, Jamie DeCurry, emerging from clouds of alkali dust thrown by a high wind. I saw a severed head on a fencepost. I saw a swamp full of dangers and terrors. I saw just enough to want to see the rest.

The author isn't divulging more about the story than that, but the snippet he provides is surely more than enough to get longtime fans of the series excited. King's finished the novel, which he says isn't as long as main entries two through seven, but is bigger than the first book that started it all. In typical self-deprecating fashion, King assures readers that the new entry won't change anyone's life, but that he had a good time writing it. We'd argue that first point – the mere mention of another Roland books in our future has changed our life – and it's a change for the better.

What do you think, Constant Readers? Ready for another trip to Mid-World or have you had enough of Roland and company now that they've finally reached their destination?