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136 of 143 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Done Introduction To Another World
This is the first installment of Steven King's fantasy series, The Dark Tower, which follows the story of the Gunslinger Roland, the equivalent of an Arthurian knight in the world King has created, and his quest to reach the Dark Tower in order to make the world right again.
This installment tells the story of Roland's search for a mysterious stranger who may be...
Published on May 30, 2000 by Adam Shah

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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best book ever, but the gateway to greater things.
I did not find The Gunslinger itself to be an enjoyable read, at all. The pacing was odd, the voice was bleak, the writing rather juvenile, even after a clean-up attempt by a much older King, and the ending was nigh incomprehensible to me. After reading it, I had absolutely no plans of pursuing the Dark Tower series further.

But!

A friend (to whom I...
Published on September 5, 2006 by Marie Anderson


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136 of 143 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well-Done Introduction To Another World, May 30, 2000
By 
Adam Shah (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is the first installment of Steven King's fantasy series, The Dark Tower, which follows the story of the Gunslinger Roland, the equivalent of an Arthurian knight in the world King has created, and his quest to reach the Dark Tower in order to make the world right again.
This installment tells the story of Roland's search for a mysterious stranger who may be able to help Roland find the Dark Tower. It is long on atmosphere and short on action. Therefore, fans of Steven King's horror works will find this book a distinct change of pace. However, the book will not disappoint you if you try it, especially if you are a fan of fantasy series such as the Lord of the Rings. Furthermore, you will find in later books that elements of King's horror world also exist in Roland's world, and therefore, to have a full understanding of King's horror villains, you have to read this series.
The Gunslinger offers several intriguing views of Roland's dying world. The book is not devoid of action; there is a dramatic shoot out for shadowy reasons which one hopes will be better explained in the concluding volumes of the work. There is a lost child who provides the first direct evidence that Roland's world is connected to our own, and there is the introduction to Roland himself, a man who is capable of fantastic violence but still comes across as human and quite possibly kind (a fact which becomes more clear in later books).
I recommend this book most highly to anyone who enjoys stories involving quests such as Arthurian legends, the Chronicles of Prydain and the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
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67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best book ever, but the gateway to greater things., September 5, 2006
I did not find The Gunslinger itself to be an enjoyable read, at all. The pacing was odd, the voice was bleak, the writing rather juvenile, even after a clean-up attempt by a much older King, and the ending was nigh incomprehensible to me. After reading it, I had absolutely no plans of pursuing the Dark Tower series further.

But!

A friend (to whom I am eternally indebted) practically force-fed me the second book of the series, The Drawing of the Three, and from there I was hooked. The rest of the series captivated me. It made me laugh and (toward the end) cry so hard that I occasionally had to put the book down and compose myself before I could keep reading. These days I'm an evangelical DT fan, pestering everyone I know to try the series. It's just such a bother that I have to tell everyone "You won't like this, but read it, the other six are amazing."
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168 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagination to paper takes time, May 3, 2000
At under 300 pages, "The Gunslinger" - the first book from Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series - may seem oddly short, especially when compared to the latest volume from the epic, weighing in at around 700 pages. And still, Constant Reader, there are thousands more to go!
According to the afterword from this book, it took King twelve years to complete the writings. He wrote the opening line, "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed" while an undergraduate, the middle portions when "`Salem's Lot" was going bad, and was inspired with another concurrent writing: "The Stand." For King to have kept the Gunslinger, the Man in Black, Jake, and the other characters - and really the entire world of the Dark Tower - alive for so long in his mind is a testament to not only the power that this held over the author, but holds over us - his Constant Readers. Moreover, since the first publishing of "The Gunslinger," around twenty years have passed, a number of newer volumes in this series have come and gone - yet with this first, partially inspired by Robert Browning's poem, "Childe Roland," and partially inspired by reams of green paper (read the afterword to the book), you know that this was a very special creation indeed.
I am not a fan of King's horror fiction. But when he gets down to writing about "other worlds than these," such as "The Stand," "Insomnia," "The Green Mile," and "The Talisman" (co-authored with Peter Straub) - there is no one better. His is an imagination to be jealous of. There is always a feeling that alternate universes exist, next to our own. King imbues his other worlds with just enough of our own so that we feel a tantalizing connection between our own perceptions of reality, and those that King entertains us (Constant Readers) with.
At any rate, "The Gunslinger," at under 300 pages, is just right to introduce us to the world of The Dark Tower, and keep us on course, with a desire to continue (and to wait, ever so patiently for the next volume in the series) the journey the Gunslinger started many years ago.
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So many questions, so few answers, September 12, 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (Arlington, VA United States) - See all my reviews
The hype surrounding the Dark Tower series finally got to me and I picked up The Gunslinger, unsure of what I would find. What I found was a stark, fresh, somewhat surreal and demanding (yet light!) experience that left me wanting more, much more.
This first novel in the series finds the hero (for wont of a better word!), The Gunslinger, slugging across the desert in search of the mysterious Man in Black. The desert is bleak and so our the words - yet they have a definite beauty. Along the way The Gunslinger meets a couple of people (are they alive or dead?) and reveals some of his back history - a strange massacre in a town, his childhood friends and mentors and hints at a Dark Tower.
Death permeates this book. We're not sure who's dead or alive. Something strange has happened with time - the main search right now is for this cause - and strange fragments of the "real" world appear through the fog - Hey Jude playing in a Western Saloon is one of the strange and wonderful images we encounter. Time itself is an illusion it seems and still the Man in Black is ahead of us.
My one reservation about the book is that the final meeting with the Man in Black is a little anticlimactic. Perhaps that's because it's been building up but after the meeting we wonder why he was running at all. However, there is a lot of backstory missing in the book - obviously slated for the later books - so perhaps issues like this will be resolved. All in all a most strange but powerful book - well worth reading.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenge Yourself, August 28, 1999
By A Customer
Lots of five stars here. Lots of one stars, too. Comments like "hard to follow". "Boring." "No plot." I would argue that the plot is so big, some are not seeing the forest for the trees. The books of the Dark Tower cycle are King's most important, not because they are the easiest to follow, not because they are quick reads, but because with these novels not only is the author is tapping into a collective mythology, but is tying all of his works (see "Insomnia", "It", "Eyes of the Dragon", "The Stand", and many others) together. In other words, these novels stand at the center of King's entire body of work, connecting them to itself and one another, and thereby lending deeper meaning to the whole (kind of like the Dark Tower itself, no?). This is an ambitious attempt, and one in which I believe that King is unique. And the guy is pulling it off.
Now, as for "The Gunslinger." If you are one of those that were unimpressed by this offering, please follow this advice: Read the whole thing. All of it. That includes the "tributary" books like "Insomnia" and especially "The Stand." Get a feel for what King is trying to do. Then go back for a re-read. You'll be amazed. Admittedly the pace is disjointed, and if you have read King's other stuff, you won't be prepared for this. But realize that the sparseness of the prose, the disjointedness and abjectness and disaffection of the novel mirrors the desolation and madness of Roland's soul (which is in turn reflected by the desolation of the desert and the madness of the man he chases). Realize that in this novel, King is setting up payoffs that don't come until years down the road, that won't hit you until the second reading (and if that isn't the mark of a great story, what is?). Just to take one example out of many: Roland's massacre of the shanty-town of Tull seems excessive, until the end of Book IV, when we get the payoff: Tull is the remnant of the village that burned Roland's love, Susan Delgado, at the stake. The massacre can be read as Roland's revenge on the town. "The Gunslinger" is a book of subtle shades and undertones, and is not the best of the bunch (that would be "The Drawing of the Three"), but it is a perfect and impressive foundation to an ambitious and excellent tale.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a bone-dry beginning, May 17, 2002
I am a huge fan of Stephen King's Dark Tower series of books. I think that "Wizard and Glass" is possibly the best book he has written so far. I am always evangelizing others on the greatness of King's massive uber-story. Yet book one, "The Gunslinger," seems to be one heck of a stumbling block for most folks.
This is understandable. The story begins with Roland (the main protagonist of the series) in his darkest place. He has become hardened, unable to love. The story ends with him making the most heartless of decisions. "The Gunslinger puts the capital "G" in Grim.
Yet this almost unbearably bleak backdrop is essential to what the story of Roland and the Dark Tower becomes. In it we learn of what Roland is--a "Gunslinger"--and how he became one. We learn of the treachery that has set the course of Roland's destiny in motion.
Most of "The Gunslinger" comes off like a flashback wrapped inside a horrible hallucination. Bad things happen and there is no fulfilling end to this part of the tale. It understandably turns a lot of folks off to going any further with The Dark Tower.
I am here to tell you to keep on pressing on. King's story is, in my opinion, turning into one of the most epic and worthwhile tales ever written. The dryness of the Gunslinger is more than compensated for in the following books.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars here we begin..., September 16, 2002
By 
Jennifer Hall (Rockmart, GA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Stephen King starts out his massive Dark Tower series with the words: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." Quickly pulling you into this twisted world of fantasy and western and a great quest, you as Constant Reader chase the man in black, across the desert in a strange and frightening place in time.
A little patience is necessary for getting into the story; it's not much like any King you've read before. As relentless as the gunslinger (who we come to know as Roland) is in his pursuit, it's also a little slow going. King does not give you much back story in this slim novel, although as you read the rest in the series you will learn the past of most characters revealed here (and many more).
Roland follows the man in black through a small town, where he is forced to make a final, violent decision to save his own life. As he continues on his long journey, he meets a boy from Earth, Jake, who died in our world and has somehow appeared in this one. Roland and Jake continue on together, but somehow Roland knows he may have to lose the boy, as much as he has come to care for him, to finally meet the man in black.
The Gunslinger is only the first of many in the Dark Tower series. It is not as long, as involved, or (in my opinion) as well written as the others. It introduces you to Roland's world, but you don't get to know much about it or him. Keep reading. The answers start unfolding, and the pace definitely picks up with the second in the series, The Drawing of the Three. It's a long journey, and a very fine and exciting one at that.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get through this one. You'll be happy you did., February 20, 2004
By 
This is the first in a wonderous series about Roland the Gunslinger. Roland hails from Gilead, an ancient or possibly future civilization where the blood-line of King Arthur Eld is highly regarded as protectors of the world. Unfortunately, by the time we meet up with Roland, the world has moved on.
Roland is following the man in black. We don't know who this mysterious figure is until the end of the book, but we do know that he holds the first clues for Roland on the quest for the Dark Tower.
What is the Dark Tower? Amazingly enough, a lot of it is explained in this book, though it's hard to grasp the concept until one has read further into the series. The series opens us up to the concept of multiple worlds in multiple universes, all held together with beams, which are breaking and thus, the Tower is being destroyed.
The Dark Tower series is also held together by beams. These beams are other King works. Any King fan should read this series because it opens up so many treats for the "constant reader." There are tie-ins everywhere. The Gunslinger is linked to the rest of the books in the series, which are linked to other King books such as Salem's Lot, The Stand, Insomnia, From a Buick 8, and Rose Madder (which is linked to Desperation and Regulators).
Wow! All this depth and a great story to boot! As we follow Roland, his quest becomes our quest.
Every journey starts with one step. The first step is "The Gunslinger."
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best creation of King's imagination takes time ...., March 28, 2000
At under 300 pages, "The Gunslinger" -- the first book from Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" series -- may seem oddly short, especially when compared to the latest volume from the epic, weighing in at around 700 pages. And still, Constant Reader, there are thousands more to go!
According to the afterword from this volume, it took King twelve years to complete the writings. He wrote the opening line "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed" while an undergrad, the middle portions when "`Salem's Lot" was going bad, and was inspired with another concurrent writing: "The Stand." For King to have kept the Gunslinger, the Man in Black, Jake, the other characters -- and really the entire world of the Dark Tower -- alive for so long in his mind is a testament to not only the power that this held over the author, but holds over us -- his Constant Readers. Moreover, since the first publishing of "The Gunslinger," around twenty years have passed, a number of newer volumes in this series have come and gone -- yet with this first, partially inspired by Robert Browning's poem "Childe Roland," and partially inspired by reams of green paper (read the afterword to the book), you know that it was a very special creation indeed.
I am not a fan of King's horror fiction. But when he gets down to writing about "other worlds than these," such as "The Stand," "Insomnia," "The Green Mile," and "The Talisman" (co-authored with Peter Straub) -- there is no one better. His is an imagination to be jealous of. There is always a feeling that alternate universes exist, next to our own (or maybe, ours exists within a molecule in some other reality). King imbues his other worlds with just enough of our own so that we feel a tantalizing connection between our perceptions of reality, and those that he uses to entertain us with.
"The Gunslinger," at under 300 pages, is just right to introduce us to the world of The Dark Tower, and keep us on course, with a desire to continue (and to wait, ever so patiently for the next volumes in the series) the journey that the Gunslinger started many years ago.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Against the grain..., January 18, 2004
By A Customer
Unlike many people who have left reviews here, I view Stephen King's first Dark Tower novel, "The Gunslinger" not as something to be suffered through in order to get at the riches which lay beyond, but as an excellent stand alone novel.
Lousy at some may think it is, I actually fell in love with that old version of "The Gunslinger". No, it's not your typical, linear, run of the mill story. If that frightens you, stay away from this book. It's written in an artistic, vague, almost pretentious way (King edited some of this out in the new version, but the core stil remains). Obviously some people find this annoying, but I love it. To me it is almost the novel equivalent of a Sergio Leone movie, because his movies can be described much the same way. Needless to say, I was more than understanding of King's admission that "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" was an inspiration for this story.
So I very much surprised when I learned that King had gone and "revised and expanded" this novel which I loved. Blasphemy! I thought. Of course, I went and bought it anyway. My feelings on the new version are mixed. I like the additional scenes (almost like watching the cut-scenes on a DVD), but overall the novel seems to have lost something to me... lost a bit of that original pretentious magic.
Slowly but surely, King has degenerated his Dark Tower story into just another one of his crazy romps where seemingly anything and everything goes. I, for one, will always prefer that mysterious, haunting image of the last gunslinger, following across the desert. But that's just me.
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