Top positive review
63 people found this helpful
Looks like another series I will rush my way through
on 6 March 2004
The Gunslinger is the first volume (of seven) in the Dark Tower series, and introduces us to Roland of Gilead, the last gunslinger alive. Roland lives in a post industrial world that has reverted back to almost medieval conditions – according to its inhabitants it has “moved on”. A little at a time Roland’s background is explained – how he grew up among the ruling class of his country, and how he lost everyone dear to him in the revolution that brought an end to the rule of the gunslingers and laid Gilead in ruins. Now all he has left is the search for an elusive man in black, and ultimately finding the Dark Tower, a place of great importance, but shrouded in mystery.
King claims that the Dark Tower is inspired by Tolkien (what fantasy work isn’t?) and Sergio Leone’s movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - a spaghetti western with magic and a quest to save the world, in other words. It may sound like a strange combination, but King manages to fuse these two elements and make the story work. There are lots of fantastic elements in the history of the world and in the events that unfold on Roland’s way to catch up with the man in black, but the writing makes you feel like a remote observer, just like at the movie screen.
The remoteness does have one drawback – you never really get close to the characters. They are well drawn, but never become your friends to laugh and cry with. Another thing that keeps you at a distance from the story is the fact that very little information about why Roland needs to find the Dark Tower is revealed. In many ways, The Gunslinger leaves you with more questions than answers, but since there are six more books to fill in the gaps, I’m not particularly upset about it.
It is important to know that this is the revised version of The Gunslinger, published 2003, in which King has not only corrected minor mistakes and discrepancies with the later books in the series, but also rewritten some of the bad beginner’s prose in the first version (published 1982). I’m not familiar with the original version, so I can’t say if the revisions have improved the book, but I liked what I read so much that I will read the next book ASAP.