Book Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King

Posted December 26, 2016 by @Angelized_1st in 2016 Horror Reading Challenge, Books, Entertainment, Reading Challenges / 4 Comments

Book Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen KingThe Gunslinger by Stephen King
Series: The Dark Tower #1
Published by Viking on 2003
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, General
Pages: 231
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 9780670032549
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

Beginning with a short story appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1978, the publication of Stephen King's epic work of fantasy-what he considers to be a single long novel and his magnum opus-has spanned a quarter of a century.

Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dark Tower series is King's most visionary feat of storytelling, a magical mix of science fiction, fantasy, and horror that may well be his crowning achievement. In November 2003, the fifth installment, Wolves of the Calla, will be published under the imprint of Donald M. Grant, with distribution and major promotion provided by Scribner. Song of Susannah, Book VI, and The Dark Tower, Book VII, will follow under the same arrangement in 2004. With these last three volumes finally on the horizon, readers-countless King readers who have yet to delve into The Dark Tower and a multitude of new and old fantasy fans-can now look forward to reading the series straight through to its stunning conclusion. Viking's elegant reissue of the first four books ensures that for the first time The Dark Tower will be widely available in hardcover editions for this eager readership.

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”

As a child my favorite Stephen King novel was The Eyes of the Dragon. It’s not as popular as his other books, but I loved it because it was like a fairy tale. Later when I learned that the villain in that story appears throughout King’s books, I’d decided to devour everything King’s written. Then I got distracted by ALL THE BOOKS! Alas, I dropped the ball as I discovered other authors, and genres. Finally, a year ago I bought The Gunslinger with the notion of completing my King-a-thon, and left it to linger on my Kindle. Until now…

The Gunslinger took me a while to get into. I initially thought it was going to be a shoot ’em up western, with a hero chasing the villain across treacherous terrain. It was, but it was much more. Fantasy, science fiction, and fantasy mix with the horror to tell a tale that touches on many themes – love, time, morality, are just a few. I spent a bit of the book (maybe 1/3) of it confused about the plot, but once I got into it I was hooked. Maybe this is because I’ve built The Dark Tower series up so much that my expectations might have been blown out of proportion. However, I liked it enough to continue with the series, and know I need to soon so I don’t forget what happened in the first novel.

If you love westerns, loaded with philosophy, science, and a bit of horror, then The Gunslinger is definitely worth checking out. The horror isn’t too intense, so you don’t have to worry about sleeping at night. The action scenes are memorable, and help move the pace of the story along. The chapters are long, so I don’t recommend reading this if you don’t have the time. There’s not very many places to put it down, and the story is pretty dense. You definitely want to give you attention to this novel, or you’ll end up lost like me. Overall, I recommend this book.

About Stephen King

Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father’s family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen’s grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men’s magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale (“The Glass Floor”) to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men’s magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.


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4 responses to “Book Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King

    • @Angelized_1st

      YES!!! I love when I find someone who’s read Eyes of the Dragon. It’s so rare, despite being written by a top author. It’s like no one has ever heard of it.

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