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The Dark Tower Box Set
on 13 February 2004
I have been a fan of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series, ever since the first line of the first book. The series, which was first released almost 20 years ago is finally drawing to a conclusion, and many who, like me, picked up a copy of "The Gunslinger" two decades ago will breathe a sigh of relief as next year, the final two books of the series are being released.
For those who have never heard of Stephen King's opus, the tale is of a Gunslinger, Roland, who must journey through a world that is not quite our own, to reach the Dark Tower, a building which stands at the nexus of all worlds. Along the way, he draws three people from our world to aid his quest, and has encounters with several enemies who would rather he never completes his quest.
The Dark Tower is a mixture of Arthurian Legend, Spaghetti-Westerns, Post-Apocalyptic horror, Time-travel science fiction, and other-worldly fantasy. Magic, vampires, demons, gunbattles, insanity and the wheel of destiny (also known as ka) abound in this series of novels. The ardent Stephen King fan will take great pleasure in spotting all the links to his other books (of which there are several).
Characterwise, Stephen King does a brilliant job. Yhe gunslinger is an enigmatic but fascinating character, who seems to have many skeletons in his closet, and many stories to tell. His companions on the journey are equally as fascinating, and their interactions with eachother to overcome adversary is one of the features that makes the books so gripping.
While the first four books in the series throw a lot of questions ("Who is this gunslinger?" "Why is he on this quest?" and even "Will he ever get there?" are just a few that crop to mind), the books have fuelled discussion and intrigued millions.
While the box set only contains the first four books in the series, the main feature is the revised first edition, which has been edited and re-written completely in some places to fit in with the rest of the story, particularly in the fifth book, and the references to "19". It tells of the first part of Roland's journey, and serves partly as introduction to Roland and his world, and partly implants a crucial plot point or two that remain constant throughout the series.
The second book sees the introduction of new characters and the first indications of the links between Roland's world and ours.
The third book sees the journey begin again, with some gripping sequences, and ending with one of the greatest cliffhangers in modern fiction. (Bear in mind, when it was first released, it took 6 years for the next book to come out)
The fourth book mainly focuses on the gunslinger's past, and more intrigues develop on the road to the tower.
The box set is recommended to both the casual reader who enjoys a change, and to the ardent Stephen King fan alike. While it would be more appropriate to have seen all seven books in a box set, the four books are ample reading, and the best thing is that you don't have to wait for five years for the next book to come out. (Book V is already released in hardback, and books VI and VII are both released next year). Old fans can relive the story after their dog-eared original copies have rotted, and readers new with the DT series won't have to wait 20 years for the next books in the series.