Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Reviewing The Dark Towers Series by Stephen King

A Review Of Stephen King's Dark Tower Series


Having just spent the last 4 1/2 months (or so) reading the most incredible series of books by the author Stephen King, I can't seem to stop thinking about the story that spans over 8 books. So, I thought that avid readers like myself might enjoy a review of the books as a recommendation for a reading adventure that will most assuredly be worth the investment of time.

Back in April, I told about my first encounter with Stephen King in my Review of 11/22/63. During our Christmas dinner last year, I was talking to my daughter's boyfriend about him reading that book and made the comment that I wished that Mr. King wrote more books that were not in the horror genre because I really enjoyed his writing style. Daved asked me if I had ever read The Dark Tower series by King and I admitted that I had not. He said that he thought that I would really enjoy it. That is where my reading journey began...with that conversation at the dinner table.

First A Little History Of The Series:


The Gunslinger 1st edition cover
I think that I should explain that this is not a new series. In fact, it really didn't start out to be a series at all. King had started working on this story when he was 19 years old long before his first book was ever published. It sat tucked away for several years (8 years, I think) before he submitted parts of it to the magazine The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Five short stories were published in the magazine from 1978 through 1981. In 1982, it was published by Donald M. Grant Publishers Inc as a limited edition book and the first novel of the series was born: The Gunslinger.

King had already made a name for himself in the horror genre by this time with 8 books to his credit. It began with Carrie in 1974 and by the time The Gunslinger was published the first time, he had finished Cujo. I have to wonder if the publishers were leery of putting a fantasy book out there even though King was already pretty popular with the horror books. In my opinion, someone from the Donald M Grant team knew a great book when he read it and was willing to take the chance. Along with millions of others in the world, I'm so glad they did!
That first edition is no longer in print, although I'm sure that if someone really wanted a copy they could find a seller of old books to try to obtain a copy.

My review of the series:

The books that I read over the course of almost 5 months are the revised ones along with the newer ones that were written after the revisions of the first 3 books. Technically, there are 7 books in the Dark Tower series, however, King wrote an 8th book that he recommends reading between book 4 and book 5. One does not have to read that 8th book but I can tell you that you will enjoy it and be a little more enlightened to the overall story.


So, I naturally started with The Gunslinger: (The Dark Tower #1). I do recommend that you start with book one because the story builds from the previous books.

The series follows the main protagonist, Roland Deschain and his long journey to the Dark Tower. Roland hails from the Barony of Gilead that is no longer. In his where and when he was a gunslinger and when our story begins, he is the last of his kind. Before the world had moved on, Roland was taught the ways of the gunslingers as many boys were. These men might have been called knights in the lore and stories of others but in Roland's world they didn't wear armor or fight with swords. They seemed to look more like the men of the American old west and did their good deeds with guns. Roland of Gilead came from a long line of gunslingers and can trace his lineage all the way back to the first gunslinger Arthur of Eld (King Arthur?).

Just as knights were known to protect people from the evils of the world, the gunslingers of Roland's time did the same. They were revered by the common folk. As we journey through the books we come to realize that no matter what time or world Roland enters into, that reverence remains. All recognize him as a gunslinger and ask for his assistance. You see, as he follows his quest to the Dark Tower there are doors that enter different times and different worlds.

Roland encounters both good and evil in his journey with strange creatures, machines of the ancient ones and humans from different eras of history. He does form a group to join him in his journey: Jake, Eddie, and Susannah all of which come from different modern times and have their own special insights and talents. There is also a mutant type animal that becomes a member of the group (ka-tet) after a while and you can't help but love that little creature!

I don't want to give out any spoilers to the books. I hate when people do that! I just want to share with you that this series is one of, if not the best, series of books that I have ever read. Stephen King has a way with words that make you feel like you are right there in the story as it unfolds. I've read some pretty good authors over the decades that I have been reading and then I have read some remarkable ones. The remarkable number but just a few, Stephen King is one of those for me.

I can tell you that if you enjoy fantasy fiction, time travel, imaginary worlds and adventure; this series of books will delight you! There are some parts of the books that get a little gorey from the battles and the habits of some of the creatures but nothing that will give you nightmares. You just kind of think..."Ewwww!" and then move on in the story.

Books In The Series:

  • The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger
  • The Dark Tower 2: The Drawing of the Three
  • The Dark Tower 3: The Waste Lands
  • The Dark Tower 4: Wizard and Glass
  • The Dark Tower 4.5: The Wind Through The Keyhole (can be omitted but I recommend that you don't)
  • The Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla
  • The Dark Tower 6: Song of Susannah
  • The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower
Each book in the series can be downloaded to your digital reader or purchased in paperback versions. 

If you enjoy reading a series of books, like I do then I am confident that you will love this series. The only drawback is that I became so enamored with the characters and their journey that I hated for the books to end. There are surprises in the last few books that make it even more enjoyable and the ending was not what I expected but actually better than I could have imagined. I'm going to let a year or two pass and then I will probably go back and re-read this series again. Yep, it was that good! I can't say that over the 5 1/2 decades that I have been reading there have been many books that I wanted to read again...the Dark Tower series is a set that I could read a second time.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

6 comments:

  1. I've read books by Stephen King off and on (some of his horror stories are not for me), and enjoyed a few due to King's excellent way with words, but have not read his Dark Towers series. Will have to look into it. Always glad to have a review of a recommended book or books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I could get through his horror books, he would scare the beegeezus out of me, I'm sure! But his books in other genres have really appealed to me.

      Delete
  2. Fantastic! I am always looking for great books and a series is even better. This actually sounds like a series that both my husband and I would enjoy, but right now I am thinking Father's Day. Funny how we all associate Stephen King with horror, but very clearly his excellence is not held within those bounds. I know I loved that movie based on one of his books that I recently reviewed here too. ("A Good Marriage") Thank you for this review and for the series recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This series would make an excellent Father's Day gift Cynthia! The bonus would be that after he has finished....you get to read it too! Both genders can enjoy the story, that is for certain.

      Delete
  3. The Dark Tower series is one of my all time favorite reads. I think I've read it three times - and listened to it on audio book as well.

    It's got the lot - cowboys, robots, magic, talking trains, post apocalyptic horror - and more! I definitely prefer it to Stephen King's horror novels - although "The Stand" is another excellent work which anyone who enjoys The Dark Tower will probably also enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for stopping by Hamish! It is wonderful that you also loved this series as much as I did! It has all the things that you mentioned plus there were times that I literally laughed out loud, there were times that I cried and several times that I just shook my head and thought "how brilliant".

      Delete