January 2, 2015

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Title:  The Gunslinger
Author:  Stephen King
Pages:  231
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  2003, Viking Penguin
Series:  The Dark Tower, Book 1
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
Synopsis:  Eerie, dreamlike, set in a world that is weirdly related to our own, The Gunslinger introduces Roland Deschain of Gilead, of In-World that was, as he pursues his enigmatic antagonist to the mountains that separate the desert from the Western Sea. Roland is a solitary figure, perhaps accursed, who with a strange single-mindedness traverses an exhausted, almost timeless landscape. The people he encounters are left behind, or worse - left dead. At a way station, however, he meets Jake, a boy from a particular time (1977) and a particular place (New York City), and soon the two are joined—khef, ka, and ka-tet. The mountains lie before them. So does the man in black and, somewhere far beyond...the Dark Tower.
"Go then.  There are other worlds than these."
Review:  I purchased the original, un-edited version of this book in 1989.  I read it and fell in love.  I waited years and years for Mr. King to finish his opus.  I've read all of the original 7 books in this series, but now a new one has come out.  I re-read this, one of my all-time favorite books, again (for what is probably the 10th time) to get back in the mindset for reading the recently released addition to this series, The Wind Through the Keyhole.

I had initially planned to re-read the entire seven books, an undertaking of thousands of pages, but realize that I've actually read these books so often that I just can't seem to read them again, at least not now, not when my pile of unread books sits waiting for attention.

The world is so *nearly* ours and so obviously not that it is a haunting set of stories to read.  The Gunslinger is not the most solid, well-written of the series, but it will always have a special place in my heart.  Since it was initially written in 1970, it's understandable that the writer's skills might not have been as well-honed as they are now.  Mr. King is known as the King of Horror, but, while this book has plenty of horrifying moments, it is Fantasy in the truest sense.  In the end, it's mostly about good versus evil....except the good is just an imperfect man who has lost so much and knows he will lose even more before his quest is done.

If you are a lover of Fantasy and haven't tried this series, I cannot encourage you enough to give it a try.  The second book will hook you in, I promise.  It's admittedly a large series, but well worth it.

It's really hard for me to rate this book.  I've loved it my entire adult life.  I'll try to be fair.

Rating: 8.5 / 10

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