From CORT to BLAINE: RIDDLING in the DARK TOWER
Vannay, my tutor, said a boy who could answer a riddle was a boy who could think around corners. We had riddling contests every Friday noon, and the boy or girl who won could leave school early.Roland Deschain, the Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, p. 204
Before the world moved on, in the days of Gilead, the citizens held a Fair-Day. One of the events of this Fair-Day was a riddling contest.
Well, below, you’ll find a great, long list of Fair-Day riddles.
Mayhap you’d like to challenge yourself, or to hold a Fair-Day of your own! Below are some questions to test yourself, or to test your own ka-tet.
May you win the fair-day goose. No cheating!
How to Hold a Fair Day Riddling at Home with Friends
Are you and your ka-tet helpless Dark Tower Junkies? Mayhap these few tips will spice up your next cosplay event, may it do ya fine.
First, you’ll need to choose judges.
And you’ll need riddles scrawled on parchment, and a jar to put them in.
You’ll also need a sizeable ka-tet of Dark Tower fanatics, people who are a ferociously loyal yet esoteric lot. Yes, this one means you’ll need friends.
You’ll also need a plump fair-day goose for the winner.
Finally, you’ll need riddles. Now, in Roland’s day, all those involved would bring riddles of their own. Yar, for was it not Cort who bested all the rest, year after year?
Yet, mayhap for your first year, it would be prudent to use the riddles found within the very Dark Tower text!
Whether you’re challenging yourself on your own, or you’re participating in a Fair-Day riddling, you can find all the riddles from the Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass below!
How Many Riddles Were Asked in Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass?
By my count – and I’m only human – between Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass, there are 38 total riddles in the Dark Tower. Thirty Eight. Guess what number gets you 38 when you multiply it by two.
19, folks. This couldn’t have been on purpose. There’s just no fucking way.
Then again, Wordslinger Sai Stephen King likes a good number riddle. After all, Blaine’s pump primes backwards. But we’ll get to that one soon enough.
You’ll notice that the “why did the dead baby cross the road” question is repeated, because it’s asked twice. This may seem like a cheat – that there are really 39 riddles instead of 38 – until you realize that I omitted Aaron Deepneau’s riddle about Samson and the honey. So I still count 38 riddles.
Whether or not you accept this discovery is up to you. Personally, when I tallied up the number while doing the research for this article, I was floored. Nineteen. Wow.
At any rate, such discoveries aside, you’ll find the questions first, all alone for your consideration. You’ll find the answers at the bottom of the page. But don’t peek until you’ve given it a fair chance!
Stare at the question. Turn it over in your head, as Aaron Deepneau says. Enjoy it. And come back at the end of the day, or even later, to check the answers.
May you Win the Fair-Day Goose: No Cheating!
Surely thee recalls the story of the drifter who was caught cheating at riddling. Best ye don’t make the same mistake as that miserable cully…
Before we get to Blaine’s riddling, here’s a brief warmup riddle: it’s the campfire riddling from the night after Roland’s ka-tet found David Quick’s downed airplane.
Eddie, Roland, and Jake’s Fireside Riddles
How much willpower do you have not to scroll to the bottom of the page? How well can you think around corners?
Here’s the first few:
- What’s dressed when night falls and undressed when day breaks? (Roland)
- Why did the dead baby cross the road? (Eddie)
- What’s green, weighs a hundred tons, and lives at the bottom of the ocean? (Eddie)
- What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a bed but never sleeps, has a head but never weeps? (Jake)
- What lies in bed, and stands in bed? First white, then red; The plumper it gets, the better the old woman likes it. (Roland)
- When is a door not a door? (Eddie)
- There is a thing that nothing is, and yet it has a name. It’s sometimes tall and sometimes short, joins our talks, joins our sport, and plays at every game (Jake)
Nobody can answer this last question, and Eddie stays up all night turning the riddle over in his mind. We don’t see riddles again until we meet Blaine in Lud.
Riddle-De-Dum and Riddling
Each member of the ka-tet had his or her own role to play in the riddling of Blaine the Mono. Jake brought and asked questions from Riddle-De-Dum, Roland asked his fair day riddles, Eddie brought the nonsense and killed Blaine, and as for Susannah, she was the one who figured out that Blaine wanted to hear riddles:
Blaine, I’ve got a question, and it is a pretty good one! Listen!” She closed her eyes for a moment, fingers rubbing frantically at her temples, and then opened her eyes again. “ ‘There is a thing that . . . uh . . . that nothing is, and yet it has a name; ’tis sometimes tall and . . . and sometimes short . . .’ ” She broke off and stared at Eddie with wide, agonized eyes. “Help me! I can’t remember how the rest of it goes!Susannah Dean, The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, p.264
With this Susannah Dean quote, then, they’re off to the Fair-Day races.
Meanwhile, below are all the rest of the riddles in the Waste Lands and Wizard and Glass. Test your mind! Test your thinking! Test your ability to think around corners, as Vannay, Roland’s tutor, used to say. You may find the answers at the bottom, if you can’t remember the face of your father.
Lud to Topeka: The Rest of the Riddles
Questions BLAINE asks are in CAPS, because, like any reasonable person, Blaine TALKS IN ALL CAPS.
8. YOU’LL HAVE TO PRIME THE PUMP TO GET ME GOING, AND MY PUMP PRIMES BACKWARD (Blaine)
9. What’s better than all the gods and worse than Old Man Splitfoot? Dead people eat it always; live people who eat it die slow. (Roland)
10. What is the difference between a grandmother and a granary? (Roland)
11. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CAT AND A COMPLEX SENTENCE? (Blaine)
Next, our riddling contest spans into the next book in the Dark Tower Series, Wizard and Glass.
12. What has four wheels and flies? (Susannah)
13. What has four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night? (Roland)
14. No sooner spoken than broken. What is it? (Eddie)
15. Feed me and I live. Give me to drink and I die. What am I? (Roland)
16. I pass before the sun, Blaine, yet make no shadow. What am I? (Roland)
17. This is light as a feather, yet no man can hold it for long. (Roland)
18 If you break me, I’ll not stop working. If you can touch me, my work is done. If you lose me, you must find me with a ring soon after. What am I? (Roland)
19. What may go up a chimney down but cannot go down a chimney up? (Roland)
20. We are very little creatures; all of us have different features. One of us in glass is set; one of us you’ll find in jet. Another you may see in tin, and a fourth is boxed within. If the fifth you should pursue, it can never fly from you. What are we? (Roland, but Cort made it up)
21. Where may you find roads without carts, forests without trees, cities without houses? (Roland)
22. I have a hundred legs but cannot stand, a long neck but no head; I eat the maid’s life. What am I? (Roland)
23. Cannot be seen, cannot be felt, cannot be heard, cannot be smelt. It lies behind the stars and beneath the hills. Ends life and kills laughter. What is it? (Roland. Fun fact, this was one of Bilbo’s riddles to Gollum in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit)
24. This thing runs but cannot walk, sometimes sings but never talks. Lacks arms, has hands; lacks a head but has a face. What is it? (Roland)
25. What builds up castles, tears down mountains, makes some blind, helps others to see?
26. What lives in winter, dies in summer, and grows with its roots upward? (Roland)
27. Man walks over; man walks under; in time of war he burns asunder? (Roland)
28. What has eyes but cannot see? (Roland)
29. I occur once in a minute, twice in every moment, but not once in a hundred thousand years. What am I? (Roland)
At this point, Roland is all riddled out, so Jake breaks out Riddle De Dum:
30. In a tunnel of darkness lies a beast of iron. It can only attack when pulled back. What is it? (Jake)
31. Walk on the living, they don’t even mumble. Walk on the dead, they mutter and grumble. What are they? (Jake)
32. I am emeralds and diamonds, lost by the moon. I am found by the sun and picked up soon. What am I? (Jake)
33. With no wings, I fly. With no eyes, I see. With no arms, I climb. More frightening than any beast, stronger than any foe. I am cunning, ruthless, and tall; in the end, I rule all. What am I? (Eddie)
Eddie Gets Illogical
34. The big moron and the little moron were standing on the bridge over the River Send. The big moron fell off. How come the little moron didn’t fall off, too? (Eddie)
35. Why do police lieutenants wear belts? (Eddie)
36. What’s Irish and stays out in the back of the house, even in the rain? (Eddie)
37. Why do people go to bed? (Eddie)
38. Why did the dead baby cross the road? (Eddie)
And there you have it. Those are the 38 riddles asked in the Dark Tower III: Waste Lands and Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass.
Below, you’ll find the answers.
Are you sure you want to look? Why don’t you think about it just a little bit longer.
Are you sure?
Okay, then, sai. As promised, I won’t rip the pages out of the back:
The Answers to All the Riddles in Dark Tower III and IV
(person who answered it in parentheses; Blaine answers in CAPS because that’s how he talks, that crazy mono)
- Fire (Jake)
- Because it was stapled to the chicken (Eddie)
- Moby Snot, the Great Green Whale (Jake)
- A River (Roland)
- A dork (wrong answer, Eddie) A strawberry (right answer, Susannah) Wenberry (alternate right answer, Roland)
- When it’s a jar (Eddie)
- A Shadow (Nobody can answer this one. But Blaine answers it later)
- 97, 89, 83, 79, 73, 71, 67, 61, 59, 53, 47, 43, 41, 37, 31, 29, 23, 19, 17, 13, 11, 7, 5, 3, 2, 1 (Susannah)
- Nothing (Blaine)
- ONE IS ONE’S BORN KIN; THE OTHER IS ONE’S CORN-BIN. (Blaine)
- A cat has claws at the end of its paws, and a complex sentence has a pause at the end of its clause (Jake)
- THE TOWN GARBAGE WAGON, OF COURSE. (Blaine)
- A HUMAN BEING, WHO CRAWLS ON HANDS AND KNEES IN BABYHOOD, WALKS ON TWO LEGS DURING ADULTHOOD, AND WHO GOES ABOUT WITH THE HELP OF A CANE IN OLD AGE.” (Blaine)
- SILENCE, A THING YOU KNOW LITTLE ABOUT, EDDIE OF NEW YORK (Blaine)
- FIRE (Blaine)
- WIND (Blaine)
- ONE’S BREATH (Blaine)
- THE HUMAN HEART (Blaine)
- A LADY’S PARASOL (Blaine)
- A AND E AND I AND O AND U, THE VOWELS OF THE HIGH SPEECH (Blaine)
- ON A MAP (Blaine)
- A BROOM, GUNSLINGER. ANOTHER VARIATION ENDS, ‘I EASE THE MAID’S LIFE.’ I LIKE YOURS BETTER. (Blaine)
- THE DARK (Blaine)
- A CLOCK (Blaine)
- SAND (Blaine)
- AN ICICLE (Blaine)
- A BRIDGE (Blaine)
- THERE ARE FOUR ANSWERS. NEEDLES, STORMS, POTATOES, AND A TRUE LOVER. (Blaine)
- The Letter ‘m’ comes once in the word time, twice in the word moment. There’s no letter ‘m’ in the phrase, once in a hundred years. (Google. The chapter ended before the question was answered)
- A BULLET (Blaine）
- FALLEN LEAVES (Blaine) )
- DEW (Blaine)
- THE IMAGINATION OF MAN AND WOMAN (Blaine)
- The LITTLE MORON DID NOT FALL OFF BECAUSE HE WAS A LITTLE MORE ON (Blaine)
- TO HOLD UP THEIR PANTS (Blaine)
- PADDY O’FURNITURE (Blaine)
- BECAUSE THE BED WON’T COME TO THEM (Blaine)
- Because it was stapled to the chicken, you dopey fuck! (Eddie)