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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good starter for this epic fantasy.
`The Gunslinger' is the first instalment for Stephen King's fantasy epic series `The Dark Tower'. Written over a period of almost 30 years, over seven books, spanning for a total of 3712 pages, this really is an epic saga.

This is the shortest book of the series, lasting for a mere 238 pages. The book introduces the reader to Roland (the Gunslinger) whose...
Published on 8 Aug 2006 by Chris Hall

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curate's egg
In a vast desert, a lone gunslinger pursues a mysterious, magical "man in black". By the time they meet, many innocent people will have died. But by who's hand?

I find it astonishing that this is written by the same author who wrote Christine, The Shining and Misery. Unlike those, "The Gunslinger" is an anaemic (and brief) offering. Both prose and dialogue are...
Published on 25 Sep 2011 by Crookedmouth


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good starter for this epic fantasy., 8 Aug 2006
By 
Chris Hall "DLS Reviews" (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
`The Gunslinger' is the first instalment for Stephen King's fantasy epic series `The Dark Tower'. Written over a period of almost 30 years, over seven books, spanning for a total of 3712 pages, this really is an epic saga.

This is the shortest book of the series, lasting for a mere 238 pages. The book introduces the reader to Roland (the Gunslinger) whose journey to reach the dark tower is first set in motion.

The novel builds up slowly, allowing the reader to become accustomed to King's Dark Tower world. Characterization takes on an important role throughout the novel, getting the reader to know and feel for Roland and the few other characters that appear in the pages. With the journey the reader is taken on through the seven books, this first novel does the task of setting the scene and introducing the complex and original character of Roland perfectly. The book is often described as the prologue to the series, which seems a suitable comment to make.

As a stand alone novel, `The Gunslinger' is a rather slow and laborious novel, that gradually builds to the next platform of the saga. But the book is an important introduction to this gripping epic, giving you a good entrance to the series.

The new and revised version of this book includes the story having been expanded and revised along with a sixteen page Introduction & Forward as well as a 28 page excerpt from the beginning of the second book in the series `The Drawing Of The Three'.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling imaginary world, 2 Jun 2012
By 
Jack Heslop - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Gunslinger, the first in Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series, is a beautifully crafted novel which mixes genres. It's a western, horror, fantasy, and by the end philosophical novel. The hero, Roland of Gilead, is a cross between a Clint Eastwood character and the archetypal traveller, on a long quest through a strange world. His adventures are enthralling and tinged with melancholy, as we gradually learn tidbits about his mission. As this is the first in a series it ends on a "to be continued" note and numerous questions are left unanswered, but the book isn't meant to be read by itself, with no curiosity about what happens after.
Here King establishes an imaginary world with the breadth and depth of vision all great storytellers share. He doesn't spend chapter after chapter explaining the magic, but lets each strange development speak for itself. The narrative uncoils not like a snake or a machine but a flower, revealing its essence leaf by leaf, its scent teasing you. A barroom resurrection and an encounter with a lusty oracle left me in awe of this place King paints.
The plot is simple: Roland, the gunslinger, chases the man in black, a mischievous sorcerer, through an apocalyptic waste land. Come to think of it, the whole plot can be summed up in the book's first sentence: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Along the way Roland meets a friendly hermit, a troubled boy and the hopeless residents of Tull, a lonesome tumbleweed town. Each adventure is more exciting and mysterious than the last. In this novel (short, for Stephen King, at 238 pages) Roland faces everything from religious fanaticism to carnivorous mutants.
Towards the end of the novel there's a stunning sequence which explores philosophical ideas, and shows this author at his most transcendent. The earlier encounter with the oracle hints at this profound segway, but nothing prepared me for its beauty. Those who like challenging popular fiction will love it.
For fans of Stephen King and dark fantasy The Gunslinger is an excellent, enrapturing read.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Resumption", 9 Sep 2003
By 
When I first heard that King had rewritten the first part of the Dark Tower series I have to admit that I was a little annoyed.
When authors/directors/artists start playing around with there work, and releasing new versions of it, I get board. At the end of the day if they were not happy with the book/film/what ever in the first place, why release it at all? Why not take the time to get it right in the first place?
Well, it's not always that easy - or for that matter possible. Sometimes it becomes necessary to review past works in the light of experience.
In the two new introductions that the revised edition of The Gunslinger now sports, King acknowledges the fact that on reflection the first part of his masterwork was sadly lacking in several areas - and in many respects didn't quite fit in with the other books. As he points out he was twenty-two when he started writing about Roland and his quest for the Tower. He was not yet the seasoned writer he has become.
Dark Towers fans will probably all agree that of the four Dark Tower books in print (currently), The Gunslinger is the hardest to read, and lacks the style that King has developed. It also had the feel of a very untidy book, in that it was simply five novella linked together.
It's clear right from the beginning that King has done more then just update the language, and tidy up areas of the text. It's not a case of cut material being restored to the text of the book (as in the case of The Stand), this re-release of The Gunslinger address many of the continuity problems between the first part, and the subsequent parts of the story. In many respects it's a new book. King has not only revised the material, but in some places completely re-written it. Rather then being five loosely held together novella, this book now fits together as one story - and fits in very well with the other parts of the series.
Although I had doubts about the wisdom of a new edition of The Gunslinger, I not only found the new edition an easier read, but a much more comfortable one - and one that has a few surprises for readers. If you are new to the Dark Tower, then read this edition of The Gunslinger rather then the old. If you a fan, like myself, then pick up a copy because this is way The Gunslinger should have been all along.
What more can I say then; it's fantastic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reader from Tokyo, 31 May 2000
By A Customer
I'm not really a Stephen King fan, but his Dark Tower series has changed all that. Four books have been published so far, this being the first, followed by "The Drawing of the Three", "The Waste Lands" and "Wizard and Glass". Written over a space of 12? 20? years, King admits freely the difficulty he's had in actually writing down the story that wants to tell itself. The series follows the quest of one Roland of Gilead, the last gunslinger, as he searches for the Tower, and is dark and gritty and painful. Faint touches of the classic spaghetti Westerns, poetry, quests, and science fiction. Unfortunately, maybe due to the long periods in between, the fourth novel does not have the same urgency as the first two, and the series loses steam a little into the fourth book. The storyline is gripping, and the introductions tell you as much about the background of the story as as the book itself does. Does anyone know if King has written books of this genre before? Highly recommended. I also found the series similar in feel to David Gemmell's Jerusalem Man series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult but great beginning of a major masterpiece, 22 Aug 2007
By 
Maciej "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed..." these are the magic words which open "Dark Tower" series, one of the major cycles in the history of fantasy litterature. As we now all know, this first installment was written by a very young Stephen King under the influence of the great western "The good, the bad and the ugly", with Roland being initially a copy of Clint Eastwood's character in Sergio Leone movie. The desert chase was basically a retelling of Tuco's (Elli Wallach) pursuit of Eastwood's "man without name".

Now, this is not a totally easy book - in fact, the first time I started it, I got tired in the middle and stopped.... for 10 years! And when I tried again, I was hooked and enchanted. I read all the seven book cycle in the next months and count it as major event in my reading life. The enchantment of "Dark Tower" is due mainly to two things - a totally unique hero (Roland the last gunslinger) and an incredibly powerful decription of a world with which something is going really, but really wrong. The world of "Dark Tower" is somehow decaying, falling in pieces, loosing its structure, mixing with other worlds - and it creates an absolutely unique setting. So beware - if you have some deadlines in your work, wait with reading this book, because you could meet the same fate as me and spend every evening and every free moment reading "Dark Tower". And if you are a Stephen King hater beware even more, because you could suddenly discover that you were hating a major modern writer.

This is indeed a very magical and for that reason a very dangerous book! One of the best things in "Dark Tower" series is that as the Tower is the axe around which evolves all the worlds in the Universe, all Stephen King books are connected to this cycle. There are openings to the Dark Tower in almost all his novels and in the Dark Tower series are the entries to all his books. This is quite an achievement. And all of this begins with the man in black fleeing across the desert and the gunslinger following...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A difficult yet compelling intro to the BEST series EVER!!!, 2 Jun 2005
When I first read this i have to admit, it did seem to drag a bit at times. The story is usuall focused around Roland (the Gunslinger) alone. It is also much a case of meets someone, leaves, meets someone else they leave etc... So its hard to get connected with any of the characters other than Roland. It dosent help that almost the entire first half of the book is basically a flashback with a flashback, with various other flashbacks later on. Yet even with the odd writting pattern and ins-and-outs of characters you will still be compelled to read on. The sections based on Rolands past leave you anticiapting the next delve into Rolands former life wanting desperatley to know what it was that set him on his journey to find the allusive Dark Tower, then theres the boy Jake, who a boy meets in the desert way station, who came from a world much like our own and who ill say no more about. Read this, and i promise you that what lies ahead will give you an emotional rollercoaster ride like youve never experienced before...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Start That Only Gets Better, 26 Nov 2004
I have not read much of Stephen King's horror writing (in fact, now that I am on the fifth Dark Tower book, I have read more of these than his other work), but after reading his 'How to Write' (sic) book, I have become much more interested in his work. I actually stumbled across this first book in the library and have since been hooked on the series.
I have rated this book as four stars, simply because it is a good introduction to the series that get better each time throughout the series (well up to No. 5 anyway). I would have to agree with "realityblows" in that there seems to be some influence from other fantasy epics, but Stephen Kings admits in his introduction to being influenced by "Lord of the Rings" - however, I would disagree that this is a problem, as I think he has taken the base and made something great of his own out of it.
I am hooked on the quest for the Dark Tower and don't know what I'll do once it is finished - never mind what Roland and pals are going to do!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent departure from the usual blood 'n' gore genre, 22 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This book is derived from a series of short stories written by King between 1978 and 1982 for The Magazine of Fantasy and as such, it is a little disjointed in places, while keeping a common thread. It is really a scene setter for the books that follow (The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands & Wizard and Glass) in which Roland of Gilead (The Gunslinger) continues his quest to find the Dark Tower. The style in which the book is written is part fantasy, part sci-fi, part western but all genius. King departs into the world of fantasy fiction rarely and keeps us waiting for what seems like aeons for the next Dark Tower instalment, yet when they arrive, its always worth the wait. He's mentioned that he thinks there will be about 7 books to the series and at the current rate it could well be 15 years before we see this tale draw to its conclusion - its been 18 years since this episode was published - but like wine, it will improve still further with ageing.
Whether you are a fan of King or not, this is one novel that you really should try, and if you like Clive Barkers Imagica/Quiddity books or even Terry Pratchetts Discworld novels, then you should find The Gunslinger entertaining at the least.....just dont expect elephants in space!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece from the King!!!, 21 Feb 2004
By 
Sue Lewendon "Film fanatic" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
What a fantastic story!!!
I read this book ages ago and was thinking at the time that I might not enjoy it as much as I have his other works. Boy! was I wrong!!!
This is now possibly my favourite story King has written. He brings to life Roland Of Gilead, the last of the Gunslingers from the line of Eld. I was captivated from the first page and have since read all the Tower books to date, (the latest being Wolves of the Calla), and have been completely absorbed in every one.
If this doesn't seem like your kind of story, I would suggest that you give it a go anyway. It's not one of the longest books in this series and you wouldn't need a lot of time to complete it. Just give it a go as I did, you never know you might be totally wrong in your judgement.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a masterpiece?, 7 Oct 2003
By 
Mr. G. Robinson "garyrobinson15" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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Steven King's Sci-Fi Western blew me away on a Devon Beach this summer. How had I managed to miss such a good book for so long? I'm reading the third, in the series of seven, at the moment and I am hooked. What am I going to do after the seventh one is finished?
Roland of Gilead, our hero?, is a kind of Knight in a kind of alternate universe. For some reason I kept seeing Clint Eastwood as the man with no name from those westers from the sixties and seventies. There has been a "Moving on" as King describes it, and his world seems desolate and empty. Roland is on a quest to catch the "man in black" and then on to the "Dark Tower" of the title. His motives are not always clear and the reader just has to read on not always knowing what is going on. This is a King as his readers know him, supplying just enough info to keep you satisfied but no too much so you can pre-empt him. He expects loyalty and tenacity, and then rewards you with the information you need to work out the puzzles. And puzzles there are.
Kings trademark method of jumping from time to time and place to place to tell his story make this a challenging read. You don't even know the main characters name until you are one third through. The Outcome is thrilling and really sets you up for the "Drawing of the three", the second much larger and more satisfying read.
The Gunslinger nods at Tolkien, and those of you who have read TLOTR will notice small similarities now and again. However this is a far lighter and shorter story and you should be able to finish it in three sittings at most. The series however when fully published will result in one of the longest novels ever published, as king has stated that these are chapters of one novel published in separate parts.
A thrilling and captivating read and a real page turner. This series may turn out to be Kings finest hour, exept for "The Shining" of course!
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