The Dark Tower Series Revisited

By Rob Minor
Staff Writer

One of my biggest rules about reading is, read books you want to read, but avoid books that you have to read simply because a book shouldn’t have to be read, but if a book catches your fancy, even if it’s about calculus, by all means pick it up and give it a shot. You never know what’s going to happen.

I say this because that’s precisely what happened to me while reading The Dark Tower series. I picked up the first book by chance and six months later I closed the cover of the final book to an interesting and imaginative fantasy series by Stephen King. There are things I like about King and there are things I don’t like. King can really set the scene in a story to give the reader a clear picture, but in doing so, to quote a friend of mine, “With King, it takes a horse two hours to take a drink of water.” This gives a decent synopsis of The Dark Towers pacing as a series. It’s slow paced at times but when it does catch you, it really does bring you into the story.

The story of the Dark Tower spans seven books and is about Roland of Gilead, the last Gunslinger on his quest for the Dark Tower. We find Roland in the midst of his quest, chasing the mysterious man in black in the middle of a desert in the first book, The Gunslinger, and through the first book we learn more about him and why he is on this quest for the tower. As a character, Roland first appears as a Clint Eastwood meets John Wayne type of character, the lone ranger who comes into town who everyone stays away from. But as the story progresses we learn more about him. Some things that we may not want to learn, specifically that for him the tower is everything and that he doesn’t care if he has to sacrifice everyone he’s known to get there, and that his intentions for reaching the tower aren’t grand or noble, simply to climb its top and see what is in the final room.

It would be a long article if I were to review each book so for the sake of brevity, that ever present soul of wit, the best books of the series in my opinion are the first book, The Gunslinger, and the last book itself, The Dark Tower. I view these as the best because the first book really sets the stage for the story, it brings readers into Roland’s world, and while the last book may not have the greatest of endings, it has an ending that makes the reader truly appreciate the story. As for the rest of the books and my opinion on them, the second book, The Drawing Of The Three, is certainly interesting in that we meet the rest of the main cast of the story, Eddie, a heroin addict from New York in 1987 and Odetta Walker, a schizophrenic civil rights activist also from New York but from 1964. The third book, The Wastelands, is perhaps the most frustrating in the series as the book ends on a cliffhanger with Roland and his group having a contest for their very lives with a psychotic computer program named Blaine. The fourth book, Wizard And Glass, takes a step back in time and we learn more about Roland such as why he’s on the quest for the Dark Tower along with the people in his life when he was younger including his lost love, Susan Delgado. The fifth book, Wolves Of The Calla, makes for a great mystery novel where the group comes upon a town dominated by twins but in every generation one of the twins is kidnapped only to return “roont.” In the sixth book, Song of Susana, Roland and his group get separated as they travel to our world and meet a certain writer who is more than he knows.

What I also enjoyed about the Dark Tower series is that King worked on it for a long time- nearly 30 years. King made the novels into an umbrella series where other books he wrote related to it in some way. References to the Dark Tower are made and characters from different novels appear in the main series, such as Ted Brautigan from Hearts in Atlantis to the priest Pete Callahan from Salem’s Lot. These other stories get referenced in the Dark Tower series but don’t go into much detail. This lets the reader decide if they want to find out about the other stories by reading the various King novels. What a good ploy by King to get readers.

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