Review – The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower 1

A co-worker was cleaning his bookshelves and graciously gave me the first five books in The Dark Tower series. :) A good day for me it was. I decided that since I was participating in The Stephen King Project that this would be a perfect way to get started on that challenge.

I’m familiar with this series and was surprised to find myself a little slow in getting into the story. In fact, it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Nothing much happens in this first book is what I’m getting at.

The Gunslinger is coming out of the desert when he meets a man with a raven. The man takes him in for the night and the Gunslinger tells him about the town he just came from and the destruction left behind. He spends one night with the man and moves on, keeping on the heels of the man in black, the man he’s after. Along the way, he meets a young boy who seems out of time and place. He feels sorry for the boy and takes him with him on his search for the man in black. There is nothing that will keep him from the man in black.

I was compelled to keep reading even though this was turning out to be nothing more than watching two people walk in the same direction, and yes, it’s obviously all setup for the next book. It’s a series after all but I did feel slightly disappointed that more wasn’t explained.

The Gunslinger is an interesting character but not so fast on the uptake. There are hints he should be picking up on but it sometimes take a minute for him to see things clearly. The young boy, Jake, is an oddity not only in the story but in character. He seems to be some sort of time traveler, remembering things that were and blurting out answers to things he shouldn’t know. I became attached to Jake and I should never have done that. This is a King book after all and I should have known better. No, that’s not some sort of spoiler.

I’ve been told by the co-workers that shared these books that the story does pick up so, on I go with the series. Besides, I’m pretty much incapable of stopping after the first book in a series anyway.

Have you read this book or the series? What should I expect?

The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower 1

By Stephen King

A Signet Book

ISBN: 0451210840

3 stars

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11 thoughts on “Review – The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower 1

  1. I have this book on my shelves waiting to be read this year. I can’t wait as I’ve also heard that it really improves as the series progresses. I just love the worlds Stephen King creates, so I’m ready to dive in!

    And thanks for joining The Stephen King Project! Looking forward to more reviews!!

    • I’d love to hear what you think of it. It’s definitely a setup for the series.

      Oh yes, there will be more King reviews coming. I’m on my third book this year.

  2. It didn’t go so well for me. I made it just a little bit through the second book and decided King just isn’t my thing. It was a bit too bizarre, gruesome and inexplicable for me to follow well and/or enjoy.

    • I can understand that and I don’t think King is for everyone. I will say though, that of any author I’ve read, he is a writer that knows how to scare a reader! But for some, it’s a turnoff.

  3. It’s funny how some people just don’t like Stephen King. He isn’t for everyone. What you think is inexplicable about his Dark Tower series is probably what I enjoyed about it!

  4. I have only heard of the series once before, and it’s not what I think of when I think of SK books. Of course, the only SK book that I’ve read so far was 11/22/63 – which I absolutely loved. I’m not into gruesome horror, so I’ve been trying to figure out which of his other books might appeal to me.

    • Yes! I absolutely loved 11/23/63 too.

      King does write some gruesome horror and for some people it’s not a selling point. I took a look at his list of books, and while none are really on the same level as 11/23/63, maybe Duma Key might be a good starting place. It’s a creepy book, it’s a King book so you have to expect some, but I don’t remember any real gruesome parts. The Stand might be another but I read that one a long time ago so I don’t know if I can absolutely say there aren’t any gruesome parts.

  5. I read the Gunslinger books up until part of Wizard and Glass (book IV) but I had to put it down because I decided Stephen King wasn’t for me. My favorite of the books was The Gunslinger; it seemed like an epic allegory painted in broad strokes, and I was able to imagine the world very clearly from reading the book; the idea of a western with sorcery was compelling and evocative. It’s an interesting world, but a cruel one and that wore on me, which is why I put it down less than halfway through the series. The cruelty is present in The Gunslinger, though; so I was forewarned.

    • It’s an interesting world but a very rough one. I’ve been reading a lot of King lately but I’ve yet to pick up the next book in this series. I wasn’t completely sold on the series with the first book but I’m going to keep going with it.

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