Sometimes when I've read a really bad book it's hard for me to write a review about it - I just want to leave it at "this book is bad - stay away from it" and then forget about the book as fast as possible. With Stephen King's The Gunslinger it's the other way around. A short "Go buy this book at once!" and then getting back to thinking about what a great book it is, should do it..
But this book (and the books that follow it) is so different from anything else that King has written, that I guess that I will have to explain what makes this book so fantastic. But first let me explain something about what I feel about King and the stories he normally write. Normally King is a great writer; he has great characters (Dolores Claiborne) and usually an interesting story to tell (Needful Things), sometimes he's scary (It!The Stand). But fantastic isn't what I would normally call him.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (or DT1) is fantastic and also one of the best books that I've ever read.
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
Thus starts DT1 and from there on a great and epic adventure is afoot (as Holmes would have said it); we follow Roland, the last gunslinger in a dying world, as he tries to catch up with the man in black. Roland's quest takes us through a cold and hard world - a world that has "moved on" as he says it; a world where time itself is dying. Roland takes us to Tull, a small hick town where the man in black has laid a trap in the form of an undead weed-eater, for the man in black is not only a stylish dresser, he's also a wizard. Roland finds the boy Jake - a former citizen of the 70's New York, who was transported to Roland's world when he (seemingly) was killed by the man in black while on his way to school. Roland senses that Jake is yet another trap, from the hand of the man in black, but takes him under his wing.
All of this is a great adventure, but there's more! Underneath Roland (and Jake's) adventure there lurks a greater mystery: What is the Dark Tower? Will we ever get there? What has happened to Roland's world and what has made him into the man he is today? What about all those strange connections between Roland's world and our world?
A word of warning: Some people in alt.books.stephen-king, find this book long and boring. This is one of the great mysteries that I would like to understand before I die, but I doubt that I ever will (understand it, that is). I truly do not understand how anybody can help being captivated by this story. Anyway what I'm trying to say is: Even if you find the going hard, just keep on reading - even those strange people that do not like DT1 agree that the next books in the Dark Tower series are fantastic.
Written on Monday 8th November 1999 by TC.
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