September 18, 2011

The Last Fantasy Cowboy...

The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I
Stephen King

I love Stephen King. He has written so many books, and though I’ve read only five of them, I haven’t even made a dent in his life’s work. His writing is honest, and realistic, but what I love most about him, is how many people can say this: “I’m not a reader, but I read [The Green Mile, The Stand, The Shawshank Redemption, etc.], and I think I might go pick up another book, cause that wasn’t too bad, you know.” This is also why I love J. K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series inspired millions of kids to read, a love that has stuck in some, but that all will undoubtedly remember, besides that I love Harry Potter regardless of that).

Also, On Writing- ‘nuff said (if you love to write, like meee).

The Gunslinger is the first installment of a series called The Dark Tower. This series, initially inspired by The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, was to be King’s epic fantasy/western/adventure tale and one of the longest fiction works of its kind….ever; according to what he tells us in his intro, which was written for a re-released version of the Gunslinger, slightly revised to fit the later installments of the series more neatly.

The story is told in third person, though we follow one man, and are able to delve into his memories. This man is the last gunslinger, a highly revered position that is inherited as well as earned (if they cannot beat their teacher in a fight, and there is only one chance, they are exiled for life). As in many of King’s stories, it feels like you are looking at a world bigger than the one you are actually reading about…and I’m not sure how to capture that feeling in words. It’s skillful writing, to put it most simply.
The Gunslinger is in the middle of the pursuit of a man in black, who is a known sorcerer, and sworn enemy of the pursuer. The Gunslinger remembers a town he recently passed through as he travels a wasteland of a desert. He comes across a boy, who travels with him, and eventually, through trials of character, they meet the man in black. The story ends in a conversation about the perspective and scope of time and space, which is incredibly humbling and great to read. It leaves you on the cusp of the grand adventure, that may or may not actually begin in the next installment, but that won’t keep me from reading it. It is apparent that Stephen knew he was creating a long series of books from the very beginning. The Gunslinger doesn’t cover much ground by itself, in terms of the story. 

Because of these reasons, this book alone is not a masterpiece. Perhaps the progression of the epic will turn it into a stunning success, and this novel surely sets the foundation for something great. If you are in it for the long haul, certainly pick this one up, I have a feeling it will be rewarding in the end.

Have any of you read the entire Dark Tower series? What did you think? How about the King of Horror in general?

2 comments: said...

The Dark Tower series is my all-time favorite series. I would also argue that it's the best stuff King has ever written. I highly recommend reading all seven books--you won't be disappointed.

Steven E. Belanger said...

I've read 'em all except for Black House, with Peter Straub. Ones you should read are: The Stand, Misery, IT, The Shining, Different Seasons (for The Body and Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption), The Eyes of the Dragon (always overlooked), Insomnia (for the last 1/3), The Green Mile, and Danse Macabre. And probably one or two others I'm forgetting to mention.