The Gunslinger: the Dark Tower


“The Man in Black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.” It has to be one of the greatest opening lines to a book ever, simple yet epic. With the movie coming out today, I thought it would be appropriate to cover the book that started it all. Now, to clarify, the movie, though it shares the same title, is not an adaptation of the first book but almost a sequel to the last book.

Book One begins with the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, venturing after a mysterious Man in Black through the deserts of a world that moved on. When we first meet him, he finds a man named Brown living miles away from Tull, the last town the Gunslinger tracked the Man to. At first, Roland is weary of Brown and his raven Zoltan, but decides he isn’t a threat. He tells him the story of his time in Tull. Tull was a small town full of worn people that looked upon Roland with either fear or disdain; he gets in close with Allie who runs the town’s saloon. She tells Roland the Man came weeks before and he resurrected a man from the dead for no reason other than he could. Roland stays with Allie for his time in Tull, trying to see what trap the Man in Black has laid out for him; eventually the trap springs and suddenly the whole town tries to kill The Gunslinger. In one of the best action scenes I’ve ever read, Roland mows down everyone in Tull, including Allie tragically, but all Roland could do is move on. After leaving Brown, Roland is left wandering through the desert, dehydrated and exhausted. He passes out near an old Way Station; Jake Chambers is there when he wakes up, a young boy not of that world. For the rest of the book, Roland and Jake trek through the mountains, where a demon tries to rape Jake. After the demon, they are forced to follow the Man in Black through the perilous mountains, where the Slow Mutants live and where there is no light and a lot of falls. Then Roland is faced with a choice, let Jake die or lose the Man in Black and the Dark Tower forever; “there are other worlds than these” are Jake’s last words before falling into the dark. The finale brings us to Walter, the Man in Black, where he reveals the purpose and future of Roland and the Dark Tower that connects all reality…

So I’m going to say this book inspired me more than I think any other book ever has. Roland Deschain is a strong, stoic, bad ass anti-hero. Walter is a cool villain that at the very end doesn’t feel so much like a villain, which was cool. There is alluring foreshadowing and a non-linear story that really works. I love the setting, that is both dreamlike but has feelings of either the old west or a post apocalypse, which makes our world Jake comes from look alien by comparison. The only downfall I can sight is that there are differences between prints of the book; the older editions are much more vague, solitary, and makes Roland more of a heartless anti-hero. The updated version has more references to the rest of the series, a change in dialect to match the much later stories, and tries to make Roland a little more heroic. I personally like the earlier version myself but it’s a great story either way and definitely deserves to be read and experienced.

Author: torstenvblog

Writer of the strange and everything; lover of horror, literature, comics, and the alien is my spirit animal

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