Book Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (The Dark Tower, #1) Skip to content

Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (The Dark Tower, #1)

Book Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (The Dark Tower, #1)

“‘The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.’ The iconic opening line of Stephen King’s groundbreaking series, The Dark Tower, introduces one of his most enigmatic and powerful heroes: Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger.

Roland is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey toward the mysterious Dark Tower, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.

On his quest, Roland begins a friendship with a kid from New York named Jake, encounters an alluring woman and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.”

Book Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King (The Dark Tower, #1)

What I thought:

(It’s maddening how hard it’s been to find something resembling a proper blurb for this.)

The last time I read a Stephen King book that wasn’t On Writing, I was a teenager and it scared the hell out of me. I can’t remember the name, but it was an anthology of shorts… I do remember having to move it because I didn’t want to sleep with it in my room, so I had mixed feelings about reading The Gunslinger. You can believe me when I say it’s not terrifying in the least – little coward me would have noticed.

Fears aside, my expectations were high. I wasn’t sure at first, but by page 40 I needed answers to the many questions this book makes you ask. It gives nothing away unless it’s vital to the plot at that point in the story. After having read a lot of books which explain things for the sake of the reader, I really appreciated that. It was nice to wonder rather than receive every answer immediately, and hooked me more.

‘[…]”The world has moved on,” we say…we’ve always said it. But it’s moving on faster now. Something has happened to time. It’s softening.’

Most of the chapters were really short. Like, half a page or two pages short. I read this on my Easter break when I didn’t have much time to read, so it was nice to feel like I was getting through it quickly.

There was also this short guy:

They went on for three ‘days’ without incident.

That’s it in its entirety. A whole chapter. One sentence.

Makes an author feel better about her own ‘short’ chapters, you know?

There was a lot going on in The Gunslinger, and it didn’t provide explanations often. Because of this I could really lose myself in the world and the characters, and it made every new revelation all the more exciting and important. The world was a marvel, with so many secrets hiding in it that I can’t wait for the next book.

It had philosophical notes throughout, and the last few chapters especially made me question my assessment of the world and characters. I actually have no idea what’s going on 😛 But I have a hundred ideas, and want to know if I’m at least a little close with any of them.

So, the next book in this series is a must-buy for me. Whenever I can afford my next book haul, The Drawing of the Three will be included.

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Have you read The Gunslinger, or are you tempted? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

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One Comment

  1. I’m what King calls constant reader. Up to a point in my life – because I could afford it – I had read every single Stephen King book. Gunslinger was the hardest one. It is written in a way not usual in his other works, and it is something he wrote so long ago I could tell I was meeting his much younger self by the time I read this one – 1998, it was, I remember clearly. It was hard because the chapters were short and yet! They said sooooo much! I went on to get my hands on all other books on The Dark Tower Series, I became so obsessed with this series I cried when I finished. And was only glad to see references of it in every other piece of his work, going back to books I had read a long time ago to ascertain myself it was there. I was never happier than the day I found out he had published a companion novella to the series, The Wind Through the Keyhole, which happens to have become one of my favourite books ever written. Does it show I love Stephen King way too much?

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