The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.
–Stephen King - The gunslinger - c.1982 - pg.3
This is the first book in King’s seven book series, The Dark Tower, which I’ve been meaning to get started on for a good while now. It is labelled as a fantasy series, but with King you always get some form of horror. And for that reason I decided to add this to my RIP challenge reading list. The Gunslinger introduces the reader to Roland of Gilead, the gunslinger of the title, and the world in which he lives. It echoes many things of our world, maybe at some point in the future, after the world has “moved on”
With a title like The Gunslinger you’re probably thinking that this has a fair amount of Western in it. And you’d be right. The majority of the book is set in an arid desert as Roland chases his nemesis across it. Flashbacks fill in much of the back story. And we begin to learn why Roland is chasing the man in black. But we don’t get all the details. And we certainly don’t learn exactly what The Dark Tower is.
To be honest I didn’t really find all that much to rave about in this book. I wasn’t overly enthralled by any of the characters. Roland is the stranger of Western cliché. And we never really get inside his head, even if he is the character through which we experience the world of the book.
The world itself is fairly interesting. Creepy and familiar. Uncanny even ;) But that isn’t enough to make me love the book. Although I probably will read the others. So I suppose it works as an introduction to the world.
Maybe that is the problem with this book. It is very much a first book in a series. It is short and has a lot to do, so I suppose it isn’t surprising that it doesn’t achieve everything that you might hope for in an excellent read.