Stephen King’s The Gunslinger

gunslingerI am embarrassed to admit that I read this book, the first in King’s The Dark Tower series, way back in December 2017. This was before I started to get back into blogging but considering the timing, it seems like it should have been one of the first books I reviewed…and yet here we are, 10 months after finishing the book and I’m finally writing a review.

Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger, is the protagonist of this epic tale which spans 8 novels – King thinks of them as one novel. Deschain is set up as a good man who has been thrust into extraordinary circumstances, a man on a quest to defeat the man in black, a sinister bringer of destruction. The story takes place in a world that feels like our world turned upside down, a futuristic western in which the world is dying and has been for a very, very long time. Our world still exists and it is even possible to travel between worlds, which happens to young Jake Chambers who finds himself stuck in the middle of Deschain’s revenge narrative.

I fell in love with this slow-roll of a story. Even if we ignore the fact that the characters are absolutely fascinating – which we shouldn’t – we have a setting so intricately designed, so essential to the story, and so oddly mirrored in our own that it is worth reading for that alone. For example, the song “Hey Jude” by the Beatles appears in Roland’s worth with slightly altered lyrics

Also, this book is like a mash up of some of my favorite genres. I mean it’s a post-apocalyptic western fantasy novel focused on one man’s obsession. It’s people with extraordinary powers fighting their way through a desolate landscape with a laser-sharp focus I find intriguing. And to top it all off, what’s happening is remarkably unique. I am, in no way, capable of predicting this story. I do not at all feel like it is a regurgitation of the same old-same old.

Many people do not at all feel the way I do. The book is criticized for being too slow, for being too disjointed, and on and on. Others, however, love this book to the point of fandom. This seems to be a remarkably divisive book. You’ll love it or you’ll hate it.

Anyone who wants to sum up the book, hell the series, uses the opening line of this installment, and I just can’t help but do the same:

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

I suggest you follow as well.

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