11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A compelling imaginary world,
This review is from: Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger: (Volume 1): Gunslinger Bk. 1 (Paperback)
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.