Shardik

Shardik is a character encountered by Roland and his ka-tet in the novel The Waste Lands.

Shardik, while appearing to be a massive bear, is actually a mechanical construct of North Central Positronics. A cyborg, Shardik was built by North Central Positronics to serve as one of the twelve Guardians of the Beams. At the time that he is encountered by Roland, he is several thousand years old and dying and infested with parasites (a reference to Richard Adams’s novel Shardik). Driven insane by his illness, he attacks Roland and his ka-tet, and they are forced to kill him.

The Guardians of the Beams keep watch over either end of the six beams that support The Dark Tower. Of the twelve Guardians the ones that are mentioned are Turtle, Bear, Fish, Wolf, Elephant, Rat, Bat, Lion, Horse, and Eagle; Maturin, the Turtle (also a character in It), is considered the most powerful, or significant, of these. By the time Roland was growing up, the Guardians had reached a near-mythic status, and he wasn’t sure whether they even existed before running into Shardik.

The original Guardians, like so many other elements of Roland’s world, may have been magic entities that were replaced by North Central Positronic’s technological constructs. The death of Shardik represents another failure of technology and is one more step in the dismantling of not only Roland’s world, but the entire multiverse of existence.

Shardik is also a novel by Richard Adams; King took the name from this book, something some members of Roland’s ka-tet recognize: Susannah realizes the source of the name (although the book was published a decade after the year she was drawn from), while Eddie mentions that he thinks of rabbits when he hears the name Shardik—a reference to Watership Down, another of Adams’ books. Adams’ Shardik, like King’s, is a giant bear.