The Gunslinger Roland is after the Man in Black. He knows he will get him, even at the edge of a giant deserht, he is slowly gaining on the Man in Black. Roland knows it’s his destiny to get the Man in Black and move on to the The Dark Tower. But it is certainly not an easy thing to fulfill this destiny.
I have read a lot of Stephen King, but somehow I never got around to reading The Dark Tower series. With the adaptation looming around the corner (and can I just take a second to squeal about the casting perfection that is Idris Elba?!), I thought I better get cracking. The Gunslinger was a good, if slightly uneven read set in an absolutely intriguing world – even for someone like me who doesn’t dig Westerns all that much.
The story of how the novel came to be is not unknown and King tells it again in the foreword to my edition. He was young when he wrote it first and then he worked on the entire series for a very long time, going back to rework the first novel more than once. Maybe that colored my perception, but I felt that The Gunslinger wasn’t quite as seamless as most of King’s other novels. It’s not just a question of varying styles, but this goes down to the basic structure of the book. That is not necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes it’s certainly intended. But it does make reading a little more difficult and less flowing than what I’m used to from King novels.
In any case the Dark Tower world definitely drew me in. It is obviously very complex and after having read only the first book, I certainly don’t understand it yet. But what could have been a frustrating experience just made me curious and itching to read more – which is pretty much perfect for the first novel in a series. Still, I was quite confused by a couple of things and can imagine that not all people would tolerate that confusion so easily.
Despite my praise and the fact that I really liked Roland as a character and that the prose was extremely nice, I do have my reservations about the novel. For example, there’s the distinct lack of women apparently in that entire world. I hope that this get rectified in the novels to come. Generally I’m not quite as taken by it as the first couple of paragraphy may seem.
But I’m certainly taken enough that I will continue to read the series – and I’m looking forward to it, too. And not just because it’s a welcome excuse to picture Idris Elba.
Summarizing: An engaging start to a series.