The Gunslinger by Stephen King

(The Dark Tower, #1)

In The Gunslinger (originally published in 1982), King introduces his most enigmatic hero, Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting, solitary figure at first, on a mysterious quest through a desolate world that eerily mirrors our own. Pursuing the man in black, an evil being who can bring the dead back to life, Roland is a good man who seems to leave nothing but death in his wake.

This new edition of The Gunslinger has been revised and expanded throughout by King, with new story material, in addition to a new introduction and foreword. It also includes four full-color illustrations in the hardcover and trade paperback formats.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”

There was pressure to read this one, or I should say instead the gentle urges from one of my best friends, John Gugie (RIP, love you always.) I hadn’t gotten around to grabbing them and giving them a go until one night in a friend’s apartment, where Ronnie proudly displayed the whole collection on his shelf, raved enthusiastically on the series merits, and then sent me on my merry way with the entire series on loan. I cannot remember or think about this series without remembering John’s discussions over the years about them and the enthusiasm from Ronnie.

At this stage in my life I still consider myself a stranger to intricately woven, high fantasy style pieces. The journey was a new experience for my mind to grasp for this genre, but thankfully the writing style and shorter first book led to a gentler transition. The writing style is rather dry and detached to introduce the story, but it’s not really a character orientated adventure yet. It is not even a story about a journey yet. It is a story of a character obsession with going on a journey. He has become so obsessed with it that everything about him seems to have melted away to where there is nothing left about him except for his drive, his motivation, to complete his goal.

The book begins with one of those epic lines that’s unforgettable, a line King will be quoted for long after his death.

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

Simple, but powerfully effective.

Through towns and inner musings, chases and dreamy revelations at the end, The Gunslinger stays just out of reach. Enough to remain elusive and a little confusing. The pacing is in no hurry and the slower build-up and movement reflect that Roland’s journey will indeed be long.

Roland Deschain is a memorable figure of fantasy literature. Determined, vicious yet honorable in bizarre ways, he is a gunslinger, the last of his kind. Jake makes it easy to fall head over heels with. Instantly I sense Roland’s an impressive figure, but I don’t get much emotion toward him until the second book. With Jake and little boy charm, it was of course easier to like him. The elusive enemy is particularly intriguing as he leaves only hints of intent.

Fantastical, apocalyptic, western – what a roll-up of genre. Powerful imagery follows Roland’s hunt and vexing scenes are hard to forget in the tragedy of Tull. Due to dryness and not having as much invested in the story or characters yet, my rating for this one isn’t as impressive. This seems to be common among many reviewers for similar reasons.

Read it and believe it, it starts an epic quest.

   Book Quotes:

 “Time's the thief of memory”  

“First comes smiles, then lies. Last is gunfire."

“Do any men grow up or do they only come of age?” 

   Extras on Author's Website:

Link to Robert Browning's Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came poem that inspired the story

Discordia (Game Based on the Dark Tower series)

   Reviews of the Series: