Author: Stephen King
First Published: 1982
Page Count: 300
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Note: Book 1 of The Dark Tower series
The start of King’s epic fantasy series is bumpy but sure to please.
*Entertaining Action *The Gunslinger
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” The Gunslinger is on a quest to locate the dark tower. The mysterious man in black has knowledge that will help the Gunslinger’s quest. In hot pursuit of his lead, the Gunslinger must traverse an arid desert with the help of a barmaid named Alice and a kid from another world, Jake. Who will come out on top in this age-old battle of good vs evil?
I was so apprehensive to start this series, but I love a good fantasy story and people are endlessly raving about this series. People have even gone so far as to name it one of the best fantasy series of all time! I knew if I wanted to continue to improve my knowledge of literature and various genres, I couldn’t pass this up. This book is a hodgepodge of elements from various literary genres and stories, but it works. It’s got a Western feel and nowhere is that more evident than in our heroic main character aptly named the Gunslinger (or Roland if you want to use his real name). However, there are also demons, mutants, and time travel to name a few of the other entertaining additions King weaves into this first book. I was entertained to say the least, because with such a wide variety of scenes, I never knew what to expect. But what really ties all the madness together is King’s fantastic main character. He’s what Clint Eastwood was to classic shoot ’em up films; no enemy stands a chance when the Gunslinger is around.
The reason I was so apprehensive to jump into this series was that I had heard, to summarize what has been said by multiple readers, the first book sucks. It sucks so badly that you don’t want to even go on in the series. Obviously this didn’t give me the warm and fuzzies about reading the first book. What if it’s so awful that I really can’t bear to read anymore? I mean there are seven books in the series; it’s a big commitment. Luckily, I took the leap and it paid off. Was this book knock my socks off amazing? No, definitely not. The entire first book is cryptic and hard to follow because King is constantly hinting at characters, places, or events that we know nothing about, and he doesn’t plan on telling us about them either. That is pretty frustrating for a control freak like me who wants to put everything straight in her mind about what the heck is going on in the story. Also some of King’s language, like the use of “yar” in the dialogue, was annoying. I don’t have much experience with Westerns so I wasn’t sure if this was a saying that’s commonly used in that genre, but my gut says no. I felt that the language wasn’t used consistently either, so when it appeared it didn’t feel natural.
The action and characters in The Gunslinger make up for the negatives of the book. Because the plot is so cryptic, King leaves so much more to be explored in the next books. I didn’t like not knowing what was going on half the time, but that also gives me a reason to keep reading this series, which is something that a lot of author’s fail to do after the first book. I will definitely keep reading, and am very excited to get my hands on book two, which I’m told is really where the great storytelling begins.