My father was obsessed with King for as long as I can remember (long before my birth, actually). No wonder our home was filled with his books: short stories, novels, and this huge series. I started to share my dad’s obsession since I was about 12; I read Carrie, The Shining, Pet Sematary, Misery, just to mention a few. However, the huge volumes of Dark Tower and the fact there were 7 (!) of them pushed me away (the 7 books of Harry Potter never scared me though, probably because this series was designed for kids of my age, while Dark Tower seemed something way more serious). There’s the 8th, by the way, which was published in 2012 as a spin-off.
It’s hard to retell the whole plot in a small blog sector, and I actually don’t intend to; instead, I’ll share my impressions and, hopefully, give you an idea of whether it’s your kind of literature or not.
King himself considers his Dark Tower a “magnum opus”, the work of his lifetime. Not surprising, considering the fact that he had been writing it for about 30 years. In short, the whole story is about saving the world, of course. The main character, Roland is the last living gunslinger, a member of a knightly order, whose main purpose was to keep the world safe and sound. There’re other worlds, however. The Dark Tower is some sort of a hub that keeps all the worlds functioning, and someone wants to find it and set chaos in all the universes. The Roland’s goal is to prevent it from happening.
Throughout the books we’ll be witnessing Roland fighting his enemies, finding friends and losing them, looking for allies, and trying to survive on his way to the Tower. I read The Gunslinger when I was at the uni, during my first year there. I had a couple of friends who told me the same thing: The Gunslinger might not be the most fast-paced and easily digestible read, though if you cope with it, it’ll open the whole new world to you and you’ll be dying to read the next volume. That’s exactly what happened: it took me a while to finish the first book, but the next 6 were digested quickly, almost in a row.
Starting with the second book I couldn’t stop admiring King’s imagination and unpredictable twists of the plot. Each volume will keep you compelled and intrigued, unlike the first one, these don’t get boring at any point. From the Roland’s allies (a heroin addict New Yorker, a disabled woman with identity disorder, and a sociopath-sadist) to the mix of different universes, times, and genres, to unexpected locations, this story will keep your eyes glued to each page, till the very end.
An unpredictable, twisted dark fantasy story (with elements of many other genres) that is definitely worth reading. However, if you’re not into huge volumes and big book series, it might not be as enjoyable. Also, The Gunslinger is definitely not for everyone and it might push you away from reading the rest of the books. It’s different from the whole series, rather slow-paced, and you’ll keep wondering “WTF is going on?”. And the Gunslinger won’t give you many answers, by the way. My advice: take heart, read these 200 pages, and prepare for the most unforgettable and epic journey of your life.