Mini Review: The Gunslinger – The Dark Tower #1 – Stephen King
Release date: February 16th, 2012 (Originally June 10th, 1982)
Age Group: Adult
In the first book of this brilliant series, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger.
He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues The Man in Black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the Kid from Earth called Jake. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is one of the must-read series that I hadn’t gotten to yet. Sentiments seem to be mixed about these books, some finding it brilliant, others disappointed by it. I seem to hang somewhere in between. The Gunslinger is not a long book. With just over 300 pages it’s an easy and fast read. It’s also fascinating, brutal and confusing.
Roland Deschain of Gilead or The Gunslinger is on a quest to find and kill the ‘Man in Black’ who seems like a deranged evil priest with immense powers. All of this plays out in a place that can best be described as the Wild West. At first I got the impression that this was a dystopian version of our world, but slowly we learn that this is not the case. It remains quite vague however what kind of world The Gunslinger lives in and what happened there.
The part of the story that plays out in the ‘present day’ in the desert is strange and reminds me most of King’s other horror books, the more typical King-style. Strange, bloody and unforgiving. When King takes us back in time to Roland’s youth though, the story gets a different feeling. I can best compare it to the feeling you get when reading an Epic Fantasy tale. It feels familiar and warmer. The contrast fascinated me immensely. Being thrown back and forth between these two completely different worlds was unnerving, but in a good way.
In the end though, I can’t decide if I really liked this book or not. It was a fun read and I already knew I had a bit of trouble with King’s style before I started this book. So I can’t really say that I didn’t expect to feel a bit negative about it. I’ll probably read the rest of the books before passing final judgment.