“the Man in Black Fled Across the Desert, and the Gunslinger Followed.”

The Dark Tower VII : The Dark Tower

I first heard Stephen King read these words, the opening paragraph from The Gunslinger, ten years ago on a Sunday night, driving back to college. Tonight, driving back from my first Kung-Fu class in a month, I finished the final installment, The Dark Tower

It’s been a long ride for me, and a longer ride for many others (the first book was serialized in “Fantasy and Science Fiction” starting in 1978), and I found it quite enjoyable. I listened to all of the books on unabridged audio book. King himself is a big fan of audiobooks. He has said on numerous occasions than he prefers some aspects of unabridged audiobooks to reading. I have to agree with him.

I first picked up The Gunslinger audio book read by King, and enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s not your typical King story. Try to imagine a Post-Apocalyptic Western Fantasy as written by a guy known for horror. If that seems hard, it might be easier to just read the book

I quickly picked up the next two books (The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands), also read by King, and then waited impatiently for the next. The fourth book, Wizard and Glass, threw me for a loop. It was read by Frank Muller. Muller may well be the greatest audio book reader ever. He does an amazing job with voices, and really pulls you into the story in a way that has to be experienced. Someone else must have thought so too, because he re-recorded books 1-3, which I bought and re-listened to.

There was a long break before the next Dark Tower book was released, but after starting up again King wrote books 5-7 in one shot. He also released a revised version of The Gunslinger. In the interim, Frank Muller was in a bad motorcycle accident. He survived, but is no longer able to work. The new version of book 1, and the remaining books (Wolves of the Calla,Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower ) were read by George Guidall, another excellent reader, although I have to say I prefer Muller overall.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the books themselves right now. I’m not ready. I’ve lived Roland’s quest for the tower for ten years, and now I’m still digesting the end. There’s more to read, of course, because a large portion of King’s other works tie into the Dark Tower saga in one way or another. If you’ve never given them a change, I suggest you do.

12 Comments

  1. Del says:

    Now that they’re finished and I won’t need to pine away after the next installment, I think I’ll pick them up again. Perhaps I’ll do it the audio-book way you’ve been recommending…hmmmm… it was the only way I got through the Silmarillion (TOTALLY worth it too). Thanks, Jay.

  2. mykel says:

    (to begin, i found this page on google and havent read any of you blog besides this, ok.)

    ive just finished reading the Tower series too. im not sure what i think of it, because the ending screwed me over pretty much. im never felt more emotionally connected to a book or series, and i think that has something to do with it. but anyway, i throughly enjoyed the books and the related ones by King (i read them before the DT series, which is odd but makes it that much better).

    ignore me if you like, i just felt like writing something.

  3. Jay says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

    I’d be interested to hear more about your thoughts on the ending, but I was trying to keep this post non-spoiler-ish, os I’ll post oven ar the page you set up here

  4. mykel says:

    youre welcome :)
    i thought i should alert you ive addressed some questions, and asked some myself, on the page you commented on. i dont know if the blog software alerts you of replies to your comments but i dont think it does, so thats why im here :)

    thanks,
    mykel

  5. scott dunn says:

    I feel that the Dark Tower has become a part of my life. It has taken me about 15 years to read it all with many starts and stops. I purchased all of the books on unabridged audio this year and it improved the enjoyment a hundred percent. I have heard several that didn’t like the ending but I loved it myself. Certainly left Rolands future open. Who knows…another book maybe?

  6. Jay says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Scott.

    After I let it sink in I loved the ending as well. I wasn’t completely caught off guard. I had my suspicions, but I thought the way in which it was done was masterful.

    I’m hoping to see a sequel to Black House at some point, which would at least be another Dark Tower related book.

    Jay

  7. I just finished book 3 but am afraid to finish the rest. I love the series so far, but some of the Amazon reviews make it seem like the Dark Tower swerves off course. (600 pages of backstory in book 4?)

  8. Jay says:

    I think the fourth book is great. The story needs to be told. I think when it came out people were impatient to hear what happened next. I bet a lot of those same people were dying to hear Susan’s story at some point. Since the rest of the books are out and you can read five as soon as you finish four there’s nothing to worry about. The problem at the time was the gap between four and five was rather huge.

    Sometimes I think people online tend to pick up on other peoples complaints to fit in. I never met a single person who disliked the Star Wars Special Editions when they came out, and now they seem to be universally despised.

  9. Thanks Jay. That gives me hope. I have book 4 sitting here, but was afraid to touch it. I love the series but didn’t want to be let down.

  10. Tboneski says:

    For all of you guys who have posted here and decided not to try out wizard and glass, i must say that i am disappointed you would let other people dictate your enjoyment of a text. Roland Dechain is as always on his immutable quest for the tower and after his trials and tribulations in the first three installments, I atleast felt like i owed it to the characters to go on. for some reason they feel so real, and despite the gross word “backstory” what wizard and glass really does is to give the reader a chance to know Roland before the tower was the single definig characteristic of his life and how it is that he was able to wrench himself from regular life and take up his burden in the first place. Wizard and Glass is one of the most beautiful love stories i have ever read and there are few novels out there as cathartic as it. please do not do yourselves the disservice of not continuing the saga

  11. Amanda says:

    I first discovered the drawing of the three back in high school. I was probably about 17 so it was literally half a lifetime ago. Did not realize at the time that it was part of a longer saga and just did not get into it at all. Rediscovered them in my early 20’s and read them in order. Waiting on the new installments was absolute torture. I’m sad that it’s over. I fell in love with Roland not just as a character but as a person. He is, without a doubt, my all time favorite, and may well remain so for the rest of my days. There are books that King has written that have severely disappointed, but the Gunslinger saga was never ever ever in that list. (I am, in fact, planning a tribute tattoo….)

  12. Laurence Bannister says:

    This series is AWESOME. As for the ending, you don’t know what to think when it first happens. But when you put into context of Ka and all the other disturbances of Roland’s world I think it works perfectly. I love Father Callahan’s back story.

    Best series EVER.

    The Marvel Comics fill in some of the gaps (eg Jericho Hill)