The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King impressions

Last week I finished The Gunslinger by Stephen King!  Should I continue the series?  Help me decide!

I’ve read a few Stephen King books.  I read It and Salem’s Lot as a teenager.  The Dark Tower series had been recommended to me by some friends and so I went ahead and took the plunge as many people swear by these books as some of their favorites.

This is one of King’s earliest novels and in the modern Forward he admits that he wasn’t a seasoned writer at the time.  It shows, especially at the beginning of the novel.

The novel is basically a far future Earth scenario where Earth’s culture and human civilization have been devastated by something.  Maybe it isn’t far future, but more parallel Universe.  The boy that Roland, the gunslinger, meets along the way, clearly has ties to New York, but it is difficult in the novel to know what brings the boy to this vast desert.  My gut told me far future, but parallel universe seems to make more sense.

The novel focuses on Roland’s attempts to track down his adversary, the “man in black”, who has eluded him for years.

The most evocative parts of the novel, in my opinion, focus on Roland’s backstory and what lead him to and through his “right of passage” to become a gunslinger, revered in this Old West-style alternate Earth.

The novel is kind of a dream-state genre of fantasy and this often makes it difficult to orient the reader to the story and characters.  It could be that perspective, in of itself, is a literary tactic used to purposely disorient the reader.  I happen to not like that style of writing.

The novel basically just sets the stage for Roland’s quest and is an introduction to the character and future novels.  In that regard, I found it needlessly bloated (as I do many novels).  I did enjoy it, although the dream-like nature of it prevents me from being able to put it down, continue it at my leisure, and understand what the heck is going on.  Heck, just one week later and I had to read the Wikipedia entry to remind myself of what happens.  That probably indicates how much of an impact it had on me.  It is forgettable.

So, comment below if you think its worth sticking with The Dark Tower!  Maybe it just went over my head and maybe I need to give it another chance.

I’m currently reading Ringworld by Larry Niven and already enjoying that one much more!

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