Saturday, 12 January 2019

Book Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Roland Deschain, the last of the Gunslingers, is after the Man in Black. Along the way he meets a young boy named Jake, who appears to be from a world that is different to Roland’s.

“I don’t like people. They fuck me up.”

Ah, Roland. I had forgotten how difficult it was to like you in The Gunslinger. Some of your decisions are questionable, but that is the price of obsession.

The Gunslinger is so unlike King’s usual style of writing; the prose is beautifully poetic as we are introduced to a world that is starkly different to ours, yet some similarities remain. The differences in language and terms used, as well as the general workings of this world, are a bit jarring on the first read, but a reread is really so satisfying and rewarding!

The Gunslinger works perfectly as a prologue to the series itself. It’s an introduction to this other world, and Roland himself - we get glimpses into his past, his present, and even a few subtle hints into what his future may hold. Roland is initially portrayed as the strong silent Clint Eastwood type (thinking of Tony Soprano here LOL), but over the course of the series he becomes so much more than this, and evolves into one of the most complex characters I’ve ever encountered in literature. Thank you, King, for such a fantastic character.

I will never cease to be amazed and intrigued by the world that the Dark Tower series is set in. And although I feel like The Gunslinger works as a pretty great prologue and sets the scene for the series, there are still a huge number of parts that are iconic to the story itself. We have Roland's past in Gilead with his mother and friends, we also have an epic demonstration of his gunslinging abilities in Tull, and of course, our introduction to Jake Chambers and his journey with Roland through the mountains, which is eventful in itself! And then the book culminates with the Man in Black having a palaver with Roland, where he is told his future. This part in particular is so enjoyable on a reread, picking up on the different predictions mades and ALLLL the foreshadowing. It's fantastic.

On my first journey to the Dark Tower, and also on this one, I read the revised edition of The Gunslinger, as King went back to the original and made some some amendments to make it both an easier read and to fix some consistencies. I really want to get my hands on a copy of the original version so that I can compare!

Such incredible world-building and I feel like King intrigues you enough to make you want to pick up the next book right away. But I won’t be... as I am waiting until February - like the good readalong host that I am! *Yes I deserve some credit*

I’m giving this rating only because I know what is yet to come... can't wait to carry on with my reread of my most favourite book series. 4 stars.


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