The Dark Tower series pulls you in

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  • Monday, April 9, 2012 12:00am
  • Life

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Is there any better first line to start a novel?

The beginning hook when I’m writing is usually “Okay, there was this guy running around the desert. And then there’s this other guy who’s being chased by that one guy.”

I’m headed for the best-seller’s list, aren’t I? Look for the sequel That Girl in the Orange Shirt Standing by That Tree.

Stephen King’s Dark Tower series was actually inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came”. The Dark Tower novels (starting with The Gunslinger and ending (?) with The Wind Through the Keyhole out April 24th) are among his most popular works. He gets batches of mail from people asking how and when he’s going to finish the series. One woman in her 80s wrote to him and said she didn’t have much time left because she has cancer so could he please tell her how the books are going to end? She then added “I won’t tell anyone.”

In Dark Tower I: Gunslinger, Roland Deschain is the last of his kind: a gunslinger. Gunslingers were boys raised to fight and protect their world, the old ways and old traditions. But his home has been destroyed by the man in black who some call the devil and others call a dark magician. For years Roland has been on a quest to kill the dark man, traveling in a world that is parallel to ours (except Roland’s world doesn’t have Wal-Marts or McDonald’s but has some hold-overs like “Hey Jude” and “Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit”). Cities have been decimated, migrations patterns all askew, and mutated humans roam in the dark places.

I’ve read the book 3 times and, honestly, I have no idea why Roland needs to get to the Dark Tower. When I ask other people who’ve read the book about it, instead of enlightenment I get a blank stare. Hey at least I know I’m not alone. But in the end it doesn’t matter. All you neeed to know is that the Tower is the gravitational pull for both good and evil.

In addition to Roland’s obsession with destroying the man in black and getting to the Tower, there is the story of Jake a boy from our world who was hit by a car in the 70’s and ended up in Midworld. Roland finds himself torn between caring for the boy and continuing his chase for the man in black. He and Jake meet up with the Muties who are horribly deformed humans that live underground. Did I mention the spiders the size of a monster truck wheel? That alone had me checking the corners of my ceiling and tucking my biggest spider smashing pair of shoes under my bed. Just in case.

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger is a fast paced novel that barely skims the surface of what’s to come for Roland and the people who fall into his life. This book is followed by The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, The Dark Tower and the soon to be released The Wind Through the Keyhole.

So if you want a book about good versus evil (and maybe a little gray area mixed in between) this one will be absolutely perfect.

But make sure to check for those spiders.

Be sure to visit A Reading Life for more reviews and news of all things happening at the Everett Public Library

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