Tuesday, 28 August 2012

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

Book cover of The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) by Stephen King
Stephen King's Dark Tower series seems to be one of those things that everybody has strong feelings about, one way or the other - all the people I've spoken to either love it or absolutely hate it. Hollywood has considered making a movie version a good few times now, but it's been scrapped every time. But hey, apparently it's possibly about to happen, so I figured it was time I finally pick up this iconic series.

Plot summary - In the first book of this brilliant series, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger.

He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues The Man in Black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the Kid from Earth called Jake. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

Believe it or not, that plot summary isn't as vague as it seems - that's pretty much everything that happens. It's a very, very slow book. There's a lot of walking, a lot of talking and a lot of flashbacks and no discernible ending. An awful lot of people have told me that the series gets much better during the second book and to be honest, it would have to. Lewis put it well when he described it as kind of a trailer for the rest of the series - it's just over 200 pages compared to the chunkier, later 600+ page-ers so there's not a whole lot of room to progress the story much.

The reader gets dumped straight into the 'action,' without any explanation at all. It doesn't really get any clearer either - I've finished reading it now but I'm not really a whole lot wiser. I'm pretty sure it would be easier to understand if I were slightly demented, and possibly high...

For God's sake Roland, stop talking about your penis. Seriously. I have no idea what colour hair the Gunslinger has, but I know far more than I ever wanted to about his dick. It's just strange and doesn't fit with the story at all - it's like Desert. Mountains. Man in black. PENIS! Horse. Camping. Ugh. I know it was one of the earliest things Stephen King wrote, but it really feels like it's trying too hard for shock value.

And what's with his speech? He can speak perfectly normally but every so often breaks into some strange half-Yorkshire (think Sean Bean) half-pirate dialect and it clunks every time. I mean, I know that there are different languages for different classes in this series, but it's just annoying. YAR!

I don't understand why he suddenly falls in love with Jake after about thirty seconds. It's like the InstaLove in YA novels, but with a grizzled Gunslinger and a young teenager boy. We're told all the time how much Roland cares for him, but we never actually see it or have the reasoning explained. It doesn't make sense to me.

I really can't decide how I feel about this book. I didn't hate it, although I know it seems like I did. There are some wonderful descriptive scenes and some interested concepts, but not a whole not happens. It's very disjointed and very scrambled (much like this review, I know, I know). Also, I like Roland (and his ever-present penis), but he thinks too much. I could have done without the pretentious God-y, philosophical part towards the end. I'll probably read the next one, especially since I've been told how much better it is, but I'm not in any particular rush.

So what did you think of the Dark Tower series? Did it make any more sense to you than it did me!?   


  1. I totally didn't notice the penis thing! And I'm VERY attuned to that kind of thing (see: Kafka on the Shore).

    OK. So. I don't really like this book. It's ok, but very fantasy-ish, which I'm kind of meh on, BUT I definitely agree that it's like a trailer for the rest of the series, and kind of not even an accurate one of like all the stuff that happens (but it does set up the world it's in preeetty nicely) SO yeah, please please please read at least the next one which is maybe my FAVOURITE, and then if you don't like that I give you permission to give up on them. ;)

  2. Completely agree, The Gunslinger is NOTHING like the rest of the series! If I wasn't such a Stephen King fangirl I might have abandoned the series but I loved the rest so I'm really glad I stuck with it. Give the second one a chance, pretty please ;-)

  3. I have the whole of this series, I casually mentioned to my dad one day that I'd like to try the first one then I ended up with the whole set for Christmas! I wouldn't worry about not loving this one, I've heard the first is pretty bad but the rest AMAZING.

  4. "Ever-present penis"? HA! Although now the whole time I read this now, I'm basically going to be on the lookout for penis references...

    The copy I have is due back at the library soon so I really do need to read it soon but the thought of dodgy accents, too much walking and errant penises (peni...?) make me feel like I'm not going to be able to take it seriously, trailer or not!

    Also, there's no way that my review will even be half as entertaining as this one! How sad for my review! :-p

  5. This book is so odd. I love it and hate it at the same time. But I will tell you the rest of the series is much better and if you love King go on the journey!!!


  6. sounds interesting. on my wishlist

  7. Your thoughts on this book are pretty much the thoughts I expect to have when I get around to reading it, except for the penis stuff. Ugh... I don't know if I want to read it anymore? "Wild west" style stuff tends to disinterest me immensely and if it's slow as well.. meh. Meh meh meh. Too much that doesn't make me say meh that I want to read instead.

  8. I don't think I've read any Stephen King novel so I'm definitely not starting with this series.


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