Book – The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
Author – Stephen King
Year – 1982
Genre – Western/Fantasy
Stephen King reportedly regards his The Dark Tower series as his magnum opus. It is a series that he is still writing twenty-eight years after the publication of the first volume. King is an amazing writer, and as such if he considers a book to be his best, then it must be truly amazing.
I have read a couple of King books, and was thus excited to read this – lauded as his great fantasy work. I was therefore pretty surprised to find that for all intents and purposes, it is a Western. The lead character – the eponymous Gunslinger who is only given his real name about three quarters of the way through the book – is a dyed in the wool cowboy, and he trudges across a desert stopping at little towns where they have a honky tonk piano on tap, and everyone stares as he enters. Not quite the fantasy I was expecting, but I perservered.
So being a Western, you would assume that it is set in America, probably around the 1800s. Yet a few pages in, several people are singing Hey Jude. It is all most perculiar.
All this seems a lot of preamble for a review here, but the problem is that the book becomes a little confusing because of the complete lack of being told anything. Common enough for a fantasy book – nothing is clear till the end – but come the end of the book, I am still a little in the dark about lots of things. There is an amount of tidying up, but I was still a tad perplexed. The whole book reads a very long introduction to a story.
And therefore I suppose that makes it fine. At around 250 pages, it is not a tiny book, but compared to the 800 page beast that is the fifth book that I managed to pick up, it covers a very small part of the overall story. So I think I will carry on reading. I do want to know what happens, and I believe that the whole thing becomes more cohesive as time goes on. However, as a book, I can only judge it as mediocre.