Author: Stephen King
Release Date: June 1982
** spoiler alert ** This was a quick read with some interesting ideas, but overall I felt the writing style was a bit forced compared to King’s normal conversational storytelling. The Gunslinger reads like Cormac McCarthy fan fiction at time, with characters constantly referred to in the vaguest manner and the setting described only in essence and not in fact. All of the flowery language made the story itself more difficult to get invested in as the reader is unable to become attached to characters who are just archetypes.
The story of the Gunslinger is about a (surprise) gunslinger who is trying to track down the man in black (not Johnny Cash) in order to find out more information about the Dark Tower. Along the way he meets a town full of people, and a little boy, with both seeming more like creations for his own imagination than any real place. Over the course of the journey, the Gunslinger’s past is revealed, including his fight with Cort which made Roland (the gunslinger) the youngest apprentice to be successful challenging his teacher. This scene was the coolest in the book, although by that point it was pretty clear what the outcome of the fight would be.
*Major spoilers follow* The dark tower is revealed to have something to do with the vastness of the universe, and a place where different times and places can exist at the same time. The book ends with 10 years passing and the gunslinger waking up next to a skeleton. I’ve read that this was King’s attempt to have a whole book in the style of a poem he enjoyed, and I’m hoping the rest of the series gets away from that more in terms of just telling an interesting story. There are some great concepts at work here, and the Gunslinger himself has potential has a character, but overall the not quite there style over substance of book one of the series has me a bit worried about the longer books up ahead.