What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
Those of you who are long-time followers of my blog may not be surprised to see this book right here being reviewed but you might also think: “Hey Beth, as one of Stephen King’s biggest fans, how come you’re JUST getting round to reviewing this series?” It’s true, I am a massive King junkie but this isn’t my first experience with the world of The Dark Tower. In fact this series is a re-read for me, the first time I read it was in my pre-blogging days and at the moment, I’m going through my favourites shelves and reading one favourite book alongside a main “new” read and a work of non fiction. So this was a perfect opportunity to re-visit Roland Deschain and his chums one more time and remember all the things I loved most about this series and of course, review it as I go along!
Stephen King, author of The Gunslinger, the first novel in his epic Dark Tower series.
Now I’m not sure what you’ve heard about The Gunslinger previously but I’m just going to give you my opinion and my experience with it – I would truly love to hear your own and get a discussion going about it. This is a book that seems to divide people and put people off and I have to admit, I was one of those people. I read The Gunslinger originally many moons ago, didn’t enjoy it at all, turned my nose up and vowed never to continue with the series. Until a good friend begged me to try again, swearing that it got a hell of a lot better with the second book, The Drawing Of The Three. Man oh man, am I glad I listened? So what I’m trying to say, (very inarticulately!) is that if you’re like me, read this book and thought: “Nope!” PLEASE just try the second book. If you don’t like the second book, fair enough, this fantasy series might not be for you but if I hadn’t continued, I would have missed out on so much. The world-building is second to none, the characters up there with the best King has ever created and the ending of the seventh book? Well, the less said about that right now the better!
Idris Elba in the recent Dark Tower movie adaptation. Which has been panned by the critics but again, don’t let it put you off! (Am I selling this series at all do you think?!)
The Gunslinger is a very short little book weighing in at 231 pages in paperback format so it’s really not going to take you too long to read. It’s the story of Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger and in this book, he’s chasing the mysterious Man In Black across the desert for some unknown purpose. We know Roland has suffered severe hardships in his life and we know he’s on a quest to reach The Dark Tower but we don’t really know WHY. Is it necessary to read this story or can you just skip on to the second in the series? To be honest, I think it is an important read – it sets up the main players in the story, focuses on an important event that becomes very important for two of the main characters in the series and ends on the same beach where The Drawing Of The Three begins.
How did I find reading it a second time? I have to be fair and say I enjoyed it more. I think when you read it the first time you don’t have a clue what’s going on, what this strange world is and things are just incredibly confusing. Have no fear, this series is one major jigsaw puzzle and the pieces do start to slot into place, one by one, eventually. Patience is a big ask for this series, it can get frustrating and you wonder at the vague references and tenuous connections BUT if you’re a fan of the slow reveal and anticipation, by the end it all becomes worth it, I promise. On my second reading, I was so familiar with the world, I could just settle in and enjoy the writing and events for what they were without getting annoyed by not understanding anything. Is it the best novel in the series? Not by a long shot and even Stephen King says himself, if he could go back and re-write it, he would. Personally, I’m so glad I persevered with the series, the rewards for doing so are fantastic and will hopefully make you glad you did too.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
COMING UP SOON: The Drawing Of The Three (The Dark Tower #2)