Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Viking Penguin, 2003
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 read this story for what I estimate is the 11th time - 8 times in the original format and three times in the 'remastered' edition. I found the original in 1989 and fell in love. I purchased the sequel, The Drawing of the Three, almost immediately. Then I waited. Three years for book 3. Six more years for book 4. Another six years for book 5. Then, the last two books came out one right after another several months later. A companion novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole, came out eight years after the final book in the series. Nearly every time a new novel came out, I started back at the beginning and read them all over again. And sometimes when the wait was too long, I'd dust this one off and read it again - just because.
I've tallied it up and I waited a whopping 16 years to find out what happens at the end....and another 8 years after that for the additional book, for a grand total of 24 years. Twenty-four years. To be fair, the author did spend over 40 years (with some long breaks) writing the eight novels that make up The Dark Tower series.
That being said, even now I learn new things. I didn't remember that in the introduction, Mr. King makes reference to the fact that he got his idea for a western backdrop from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly starring Clint Eastwood. That explains why I've always pictured The Gunslinger as a man very much like some of Mr. Eastwood's characters. And why, even though this is obviously a fantasy novel, it always also felt like a western to me.
I last read this novel in 2015, when I finally got my copy of the newest book. I couldn't re-read the entire series. It just seemed like too much work at the time. I think I was a little miffed that the author had written another story, after I finally thought I'd read them all. Today, I want nothing else than to delve right into book two and keep right on going, all the way through. But, I am going to space them out this year. Or, that's my plan at least.
This remains, even after all the times I've read it, one of my favorite books. It is also the beginning to one of only four series that have a permanent place in my collection. I quite simply love these books and never, ever get tired of them.
Rating: 10 / 10