Stephen King’s fantastic epic adventure gets underway with this stellar, yet surprising short entry into what will be a massive tome, The Gunslinger.
Starting with the iconic line. “the man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed” one can’t help but be swept up in the epic western style fantasy. The Man in Black is a recognisable figure from King’s other works, and this adventure will touch on many threads of the worlds he has created before it is through.
Very much a dangerous creature, The Gunslinger, we learn his name is Roland by the end of the first volume, is a man obsessed, not only in his pursuit of the Man in Black, but also in his ultimate goal of reaching the Dark Tower.
It also shows how brutal he can be in his pursuit of it, and the sacrifices he is willing to make to do it, leaving scars on his soul, but not on his desire to reach his objective.
Marrying western motiffs, and imagery, the story also plays into magicks, medieval codes of honour, and horrific science fiction elements (like the slow mutants under the mountain).
This book sets up so much that is to follow it, including the character of Jake who is central to this story, as is the dialogue with the Man in Black at the end of this volume.
I remember when this first came out, in a bit of a trade paperback sized edition, and I got it for my mom for Christmas, I generally got her a King book each year for the holidays. This one, I’m not sure that she read, as I don’t think the story that had been revealed so far at the time appealed to her.
I read it back then, and wasn’t sure myself. But when I came to it a couple of decades on and could move easily from volume to volume, one after the other, I was completely engrossed.
And now, another decade on from my last read of the series, I am digging into again, joining Roland in his obsession, and hoping to discover the thrills, horrors and wonders along the way all over again.
This one is a quick, fast read, that leaves you wanting more, and happily since all of the novels that complete the story have been released, you can read them all… not like back in the day when you had to wait years for each instalment.
So much fun!