Toward the beginning of June, mostly on a whim, I finally picked up The Gunslinger, the first book of The Dark Tower series.
I didn’t realize I’d spend the next two months blazing my way through all seven (technically eight) books of the series.
I really should have known better. I adore Stephen King’s writing. His in-depth characterization and use of bone-chilling horror and suspense has me racing through any of his books. I’d been hearing great things about The Dark Tower. I knew it ventured from horror and belonged more in the Western and fantasy genres.
I’d been putting off starting it because although I play World of Warcraft, and read the associated novels, I don’t inherently gravitate toward fantasy. I’m that weird one that has never read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. I also hardly ever write anything fantasy-focused. Not to mention, ‘Western’ doesn’t usually make me want to run out and buy a book, either.
Then came The Dark Tower.
We start our journey with Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger of the line of Eld. By far this character was the best I’ve ever read. He lives and breathes on the page, looks out at you with those striking blue eyes, and you think, maybe, just maybe he could be living on some other level of the Dark Tower from where you stand now, that he’s not just a fictional character. It presents the possibility you could be walking down the street one day and run smack dab into him, realizing that there is a sandalwood gripped revolver on each hip. I could even imagine exactly what his voice would sound like, which is not something I experience often.
Although Roland was the most well-rounded and developed character, all the others were developed well and felt real as well, and I felt connected to them. Jake and Oy were some of my favorites, Jake with his relative youth but sharp intelligence and quick learning, he reminded me a little of myself. Oy was a fantastic character, even for an animal that is supposed to only mimic speech, but exhibits an intelligence and personality all his own without much dialogue or even insight into his thoughts. I could relate to Susannah and admired her tenacity and ability to continue getting up after being knocked down. Eddie was one of the characters I didn’t quite relate to as much, but still liked him a lot as a character and could see knowing someone like him. His love for his ka-tet and his bravery stuck out to me, especially as someone who had once been a coward and an addict.
Something that really amazed me about this series (and I don’t think has ever happened to me before) was the world-immersion that I felt, especially with the language of Mid-World. I caught myself thinking “palaver” instead of “discuss”, “sai” instead of “Mr.” or “Ms.”, and “ka” instead of the loosely translated word “fate”. I visited the San Francisco aquarium, and at seeing the turtle terrarium I immediately thought of the poem of Maturin.
See the turtle of enormous girth, on his shell he holds the earth. pic.twitter.com/sc63CDQZTz
— Samantha Owens (@sowensphoto) July 27, 2013
While playing Guild Wars 2, I saw a portal that immediately reminded me of what I’d imagined a thinny looked like. Most of all, seeing the references to other Stephen King novels and the world building between them kept me glued page after page.
It kind of took over my life for awhile.
Ultimately, this book series took me on a journey like none I’ve ever seen before. I don’t think I’ve ever been as invested in a series as this one, and felt the same type of heartache and ‘book hangover’ as this one did. I’d recommend this series to anyone, really: to at least try it out. It is certainly the best Stephen King I’ve read so far, if not some of the best books I’ve read in my lifetime.
Have you read the Dark Tower series? Have you been meaning to? Let me know what you think about the books.