|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
||This book-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
Lud is a fictional city in Stephen King's Dark Tower series and is briefly mentioned in Rose Madder. In The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands, the book's protagonists, led by the gunslinger Roland, go to Lud to continue their journey via a supersonic monorail called Blaine.
Lud resembles a past-its-prime New York City in many ways, most notably due to a crumbling version of the George Washington Bridge being present. This "GWB" spans a massive river canyon that protected the city from marauders after the fall of the Imperium, and later of the river baronies. The bridge, and the rest of the city, has been in disrepair for at least five hundred years. The idea of Lud being a New York in disrepair is reinforced by Roland in the seventh book after viewing it from one of the skyscrapers during his time in the year 1999.
The State of Lud
Since the technological capacity of the Great Old Ones was lost, Lud has been slowly decaying for hundreds of years. This decay has been hastened by the siege and eventual (partial) occupation by the Grays.
Lud's streets are strewn with relics from The Great Old Ones. Cars are a common sight, albeit without glass and tires, both of which were probably highly prized commodities at one time. The streets are also strewn with human bodies: either ones killed in the frequent battles between the Pubes and the Grays, or sacrificed to the God Drums.
Nearly everything created by The Great Old Ones has incredible longevity: this applies to the robots who surface occasionally in the series as well as buildings like skyscrapers and military installations. Nonetheless, most buildings in Lud have fallen into heavy disrepair over the many years.
Lud is uniquely situated; it is protected on one side by a deep river valley that can only be traversed by the GWB parallel (see below); on the other, by deep cliffs that drop down into the radioactive hell known as The Waste Lands. As a result, Lud is easily defensible, especially against the sword-wielding barbarians who tried to conquer Lud in the past.
Lud possibly belonged to a River Barony during the time of the Affiliation, and millennia before that, served as a capital city of the Imperium. After the local governments were destroyed due to rebellions similar to the one led by John Farson in Roland's own Gilead, Luddites began defending their city from roving gangs ("harriers") who pillaged any village they came across.
Lud was besieged by various armies for many years, but because of its fortunate location, the only way into the city was the "George Washington Bridge" and another bridge fallen to the river many years earlier. The "GWB" had many weak spots and holes, and was watched at all hours by both attackers and defenders. People in days of old who wanted to join the "Luddites" had to cross the bridge but many perished in the attempt.
Armies were routinely turned away by the Luddites, but their power was fading. Finally, David Quick, an "outlaw prince," mustered the "last army in the world" and attacked the city.
Eventually, the Luddites were worn down completely. They had lost all technical knowledge and dissolved into nothing more than primitive inhabitants of a once-advanced city. They still managed to prevent a complete takeover of Lud, and David Quick's army was soon reduced to the same state as the Luddites. They soon became two factions: the Pubes and the Grays.
Pubes and Grays
Pubes were the original inhabitants of Lud (after the Great Old Ones). The admittance test required quick wits and agility, and so youths more easily gained entrance than older people. The name Pubes is an apparent reference to this, as most of the members were pubescent at the time they joined. This may have originally been a derogatory term, but has become the commonly accepted name for the group. The Pubes live mostly above the ground, and are at war with the Grays. Blue bandannas are an identifying mark of the Pubes.
Grays are the descendants of David Quick's army who managed to infiltrate Lud and take control of the vast underground network of tunnels. They live mostly in these tunnels, and usually leave to fight their ancient war with the Pubes.
Since the Grays were originally a predominantly male army, there were few women to inhabit the Gray part of Lud. This forces the Grays to routinely "harvest" women and children from the Pubes. Yellow bandanas are the identifying mark of the Grays.
The God Drums
The God Drums are a form of psychological warfare used by the Grays against the Pubes.
Shortly before the Cataclysm created the waste lands next to Lud, its leaders installed large loudspeakers throughout the city. This P.A. system was still intact when the Grays took control of the city's underground, which included vast computer banks that controlled the P.A. system as well as the "brain" of Blaine the Mono.
The Grays used the P.A. system to periodically play a deafening recording of pounding drums. The Pubes executed one of their own, usually by hanging, every time these "God Drums" were heard. The reasoning behind this was that the superstitious Pubes believed that the machinery underneath the city was inhabited by the angry spirits of the Great Old Ones, who had come to be jealous of those who were still living; the Pubes believed that the sacrifices appeased the spirits who would play the drums when they had been angered. The Pubes believed that should they not tend to the spirits, they would possess and reanimate the dead to feast upon the living. Eddie, upon hearing the "God Drums," recognizes them as the drumbeat from ZZ Top's song Velcro Fly.
It is unlikely that the Grays actually planned the Drums to have this particular effect; although the Grays are the most technically advanced people remaining in All-World, they cannot use most of the thousands of computers that fill the city's underground. According to the Tick-Tock Man:
"There's a thousand of those ever-fucking dipolar computers right under the ever-fucking city, maybe even a HUNDRED thousand, and the only one that still works doesn't do a thing except play Watch Me and run those drums! I want those computers! I want them working for ME!" (The Waste Lands, p. 516)
Blaine the Mono mentions that he had done nothing for several years but play the God Drums for the Grays. This seems to indicate that the Tick-Tock Man was unable to use the city's computers because Blaine prevented him from doing so, not because he was unable to understand their operation. Additionally, Blaine does not appear to have any particular motivation for activating the Drums other than the sadistic pleasure he takes in sensing the Pubes' fear.
Destruction of Lud
Near the end of The Waste Lands, Blaine the Mono challenges Roland's companions, Eddie Dean and Susannah Dean, to solve a button-based riddle or face death. By solving the riddle (calculating all the prime numbers below 100 using the Sieve of Eratosthenes and pressing the corresponding buttons backwards), Roland and his ka-tet are allowed to board Blaine and flee Lud, just as Blaine releases poison gas (DEP3, a substance similar to what appears as a poison in another of King's books, Eyes of the Dragon) into the city. Looking back, the group witnesses this gas wipe out the remaining population of Lud (although several villains, including the Tick-Tock Man, don gas masks and survive).
- In Wizard and Glass, Steven Deschain believes that the green Wizard's Glass is located in Lud.
- In Song of Susannah, it is suggested that the city's name may come from Luddite, reflecting the Pubes' fear of technology.