Review: Dark Tower 1 - The Gunslinger (Stephen King)

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.


Thus begins the first book of the series that Stephen King calls his magnus opus. And that one sentence almost completely describes the plot of the entire book. Except for occasional flashbacks, the story is mostly about the gunslinger pursuing a mysterious man in black.

The Gunslinger is a mixture of horror and fantasy and is set in an alternative world. Nothing much is said about this world except that it resembles the American Old West and it is described as "a world that has moved on". This book forms the first part of the Dark Tower series.

The title character is Roland Deschlain, the last surviving member in a long line of gunslingers. Stephen King has said that this character was largely inspired by the "Man With No Name", the character played by Clint Eastwood in the western films trilogy directed by Sergio Leone. He has also identified Robert Browning's poem, "Childe Roland and the Dark Tower" as the major inspiration for the Dark Tower series.

The plot of the novel looks disjointed at places, which is because many of the chapters used in the book were actually short stories published earlier by King. The details about Roland's character and his world that this book gives seems inadequate, given that it practically is the introduction to the series that runs into about 3700 pages.

The story moves along very slowly, which isn't a bad thing here really, because it gives us a chance to take in the world that King has created. It's always a pleasure to step into a world different from our own, especially when a skillful author creates it. Although the picture that King has painted of this world isn't complete, it still is good enough to not hinder our enjoyment of the book.

Roland's character is interesting and mysterious, but too complex to be instantly likeable. His motives are never fully explained and his determination to reach his goals, without regard to other people's lives didn't help me feel more sympathetic towards him either.

There aren't too many characters in the story, but one of them, a boy called Jake Chambers, belonged to our world, but went on to Roland's world after his death. He is the only link between the two worlds, but how he got there too isn't explained.

I liked the novel all right, but am not convinced if it was the right way to begin the series. At the end of the book, there are quite a few questions left unanswered. I expected this book to give more of an idea about what is to come in the sequels, but disappointingly, that isn't the case. But then, we can also argue that not revealing much about the series so early is a good way to ensure that the reader is eagerly awaiting the next part.

Rating. 6/10

2 comments:

KLo said...

You might like my new blog about "The Dark Tower" http://gunslingersandtowers.blogspot.com/

Nithin said...

@KLo. Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm taking a look at your blog right now. :)

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