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Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Gunslinger

In preparation for the release of The Wind Through The Keyhole later this month I've decided to re-read Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and I thought it might be fun to blog about each of the books as I finish them. I'd guess that this isn't of interest to many people; that's fine by me. If you are interested, read on, but be warned: there will be spoilers galore - in fact, this will probably only make any sense at all if you're familiar with the book.

I'm amazed on reading this book again exactly how little of it I remember - I've only read it once, about 10 years ago when I first started the series, but I thought I had quite a good grasp on what happens in it. I didn't. The whole journey through the mountains, and the Slow Mutant attack? Forgotten. The hut in the desert, and the raven? Forgotten. I'd even forgotten how Jake died.

A couple of things did stick with me, though. There was Roland's fight with Cort, though that only came back to me when I hit that part of the book and though "oh yeah...". I remembered the Waystation, though I think I had it slightly confused with one of the places in Wolves Of The Calla - I certainly didn't remember the jawbone, or the demon in the wall.

The main part that I remember was Tull, and the massacre there. The details were foggy, but I remembered being engrossed in pages and pages of battle as Roland destroyed everybody in the town, like Clint Eastwood in...well, any film where he plays The Man With No Name. This is the first time - indeed, the only time in this book - that we see Roland's almost-magic reloading trick, and that's definitely something that has stuck with me.

It turns out, though, that the battle only takes up a few pages. I have this with my favourite book, too. In To Kill A Mockingbird, the whole story really hinges around Tom Robinson's trial. Every time I read it I look forward to that part of the book, to reading pages and pages of courtroom drama and high tension and Atticus' inspiring speech at the end; then I get to it, and I remember that it's over in about 3 pages.

As for the rest of the book? It's short, but there's a lot in it - yet as a stand-alone novel I don't think it would work at all. The ending feels like a cheat, because we find that the Man In Black is some kind of all-powerful demigod that Roland has no chance of defeating, and Roland ends the book without any real hope of catching him again. We get some hints at the significance of the Dark Tower, but it's only in the final act of the book that we're told that Roland is questing for it at all - and we aren't told why.

If memory serves, it's really in The Drawing Of The Three that the story really starts to get moving and Roland comes in to his own as a character. We'll see - that's up next.

Edit 21/05/2012: My read-through is done. Here are links to the rest of the books - Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, Part 5 is here, Part 6 is here, Part 7 is here and Part 8 is here.

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