I had heard a lot of The Dark Tower series when I first start reading them a couple of years ago. I don’t know what made me get back to it after finishing the sixth installment in the series. It is the book I guess that chooses the reader – the first time and again, that is a belief I can live with. I reread the book for a reason – at some level I wanted to search myself, to seek answers and though I didn’t end up finding any, the reread was fantastic.
Stephen King is a master of what he chooses to write, horror being his forte. He can also write just about anything –be it the emotional churn in “The Green Mile” or short stories of a different kind in “Everything’s Eventual”, he does it with ease and exactness and maybe that’s why we love him for what he does.
“The Gunslinger” has been one of my favourite novels of all time. It was inspired by a poem, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” by Robert Browning. The five parts of the novel were published in parts in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I am surprised that no one lapped it initially.
The book tells the story of the Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead and his quest to catch the man in the black – first of his many quests to get to The Dark Tower. It is about his journey into the Old World, almost like a parallel universe, similar to the Old West. Roland exists in a place where time has moved on and he is continuing his journey to meet the man in black. Along the way, as he travels across the desert and then the snow-capped mountains he meets a variety of characters – Jake Chambers, the boy who died in his own universe (similar to ours) and sets out with him on the journey, Brown the farmer and Zoltan his crow, the oracle who tells him about the future to come and of course ultimately the man in black, who shares some more secrets of the universe.
The book is confusing in most places; however those get taken care of when you read more of the series, which you have to for the answers to unravel themselves. King has written a cracker of a series beginning with The Gunslinger, which he took twelve years to write. The Gunslinger is a must read for all fantasy lovers. He blends philosophy and the bigger questions of life with great ease into this one. A great read.