R33. The Dark Tower (series): The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Year Published: 1982
Pages: 300

First Sentence: The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

I'm planning to read one of the Dark Tower books per month this year*, but in the interest of not turning this into I Love Stephen King: The Blog, I'm only going to review the first and last books in the series, plus a little round up of the whole thing at the end.

So let's begin.

Longer term readers may remember me mentioning this series in my posts about series that I haven't finished reading yet. The Gunslinger is actually a reread, that I picked up for the first time about a decade ago, in its unrevised form (Roland shot first). The edition that I own now (because I Love Stephen King) is a revised edition, but my memory wasn't clear enough to pick out the differences that, according to King's introduction, are pretty minor.

And now with all that out of the way… The Gunslinger is the beginning of the story of Roland Deschain, or at least our introduction to his story. He's the last of a proud tradition of gunslingers from an Old West-flavoured Camelot in a world that has "moved on." He is, for the bulk of the book, chasing a mysterious man in black across an immense desert.

King's strength is, as usual, in characters and atmosphere. He likes men being manly a little bit too much, but his characters are just wonderful basically. The world that Roland comes from and the one he travels through are puzzling and well-realized (if still rather faintly sketched at this point), full of magical creatures and rusty machines.

The Gunslinger doesn't have much in the way of plot, I have to admit. It's more of a long introduction to what will come after, except that I don't think King had any idea at all what that might be at the time of writing.

I'll have more to say way down the road when I finish the seventh book, hopefully in July sometime**. In the meantime, I can say that this is a series worth starting.

* Um, 2013 that is.

** Um, December 2013 that is.

- - - - -
"Yet suppose further. Suppose that all worlds, all universes, met in a single nexus, a single pylon, a Tower. And within in, a stairway, perhaps rising to the Godhead itself. Would you dare climb to the top, gunslinger? Could it be that somewhere above all of endless reality, there exists a Room?…
   "You dare not."
   And in the gunslinger's mind, those worlds echoed: You dare not.


"Someone has dared," the gunslinger said.
   "Who would that be?"
   "God," the gunslinger said softly. His eyes gleamed. "God has dared… or the king you spoke of… or… is the room empty, seer?"
   "I don't know." Fear passed over the man in black's bland face, as soft and dark as a buzzard's wing. "And, furthermore, I don't ask. It might be unwise."
- - - - -

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