The Gunslinger by Stephen King

In THE GUNSLINGER, 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 a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.

In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.

Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, THE GUNSLINGER leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

And the Tower is closer…

the-gunslingerThe Dark Tower series is one of my most favourite series ever. I love the characters and the story is wildly imaginative with so much to take in you never know what to expect. I’ve not read any of the books since the final volume was release back in 2004, although I have picked up a couple of the comic adaptions that Marvel have been releasing, so it was about time that I return to the world of Roland and his quest for the Tower. I varied my experience this time around by both reading the book and listening to the audio book and once again I enjoyed every minute of it.

The story of The Gunslinger is about Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger of Gilead, and the last months of his chase after the Man in Black after years of pursuit. The story is simple, yet it has so much depth to it and hints a such a bigger story that it becomes clear that King has big plans for the story of Roland and his quest. However, I’m getting ahead of myself here – it’s the initial story of Roland and his chase that is interesting and exciting.

As we join Roland he is a lonely man who is single-mindedly after two things – the Man in Black and the Tower. Everything he holds dear to him has now gone – his childhood friends, Alain and Cuthbert, and Gilead, the home he grew up in – leaving him with nothing but his quest. This is very important in terms of the story and his obsession is clearly deep rooted. We follow Roland as he rests with a nomad, retells the story of the last town he visits, encounters the boy named Jake and makes the last push towards the elusive Man in Black. All of this is told very well and with the clear intention of showing us Roland’s character and his determination, although some aspects aren’t what I would expect and left me wondering just how far Roland would go.

The world in which The Gunslinger is set is truly stunning. From the dry desert with vivid descriptions to the more familiar surroundings of New York city, Jake’s home town, I always felt completely drawn to the setting and wondered what would come next. The mix between Roland’s world, a place that we are told has ‘moved on’, and that of our real world is done very well and doesn’t feel strange, it simply creates more interest in what is to come.

By the end of the novel we get some of our answers, but it is the questions that are raised here that we start to get a fuller perspective of what King has in store over the subsequent novels. We are left very much wanting more and wondering just where that more will take us. The journey we have followed here is engrossing, and with six further books to look forward to my anticipation is rising rapidly. Highly recommended and one of the most addictive first volumes I have ever read.

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