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The Gunslinger (Revised Edition): The Dark Tower I Paperback – June 24, 2003

2,816 customer reviews
Book 1 of 8 in the Dark Tower Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

Thirty-three years, a horrific and life-altering accident, and thousands of desperately rabid fans in the making, Stephen King's quest to complete his magnum opus rivals the quest of Roland and his band of gunslingers who inhabit the Dark Tower series. Loyal DT fans and new readers alike will appreciate this revised edition of The Gunslinger, which breathes new life into Roland of Gilead, and offers readers a "clearer start and slightly easier entry into Roland's world."

King writes both a new introduction and foreword to this revised edition, and the ever-patient, ever-loyal "constant reader" is rewarded with secrets to the series's inception. That a "magic" ream of green paper and a Robert Browning poem, came together to reveal to King his "ka" is no real surprise (this is King after all), but who would have thought that the squinty-eyed trio of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach would set the author on his true path to the Tower? While King credits Tolkien for inspiring the "quest and magic" that pervades the series, it was Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that helped create the epic proportions and "almost absurdly majestic western backdrop" of Roland's world.

To King, The Gunslinger demanded revision because once the series was complete it became obvious that "the beginning was out of sync with the ending." While the revision adds only 35 pages, Dark Tower purists will notice the changes to Allie's fate and Roland's interaction with Cort, Jake, and the Man in Black--all stellar scenes that will reignite the hunger for the rest of the series. Newcomers will appreciate the details and insight into Roland's life. The revised Roland of Gilead (nee Deschain) is embodied with more humanity--he loves, he pities, he regrets. What DT fans might miss is the same ambiguity and mystery of the original that gave the original its pulpy underground feel (back when King himself awaited word from Roland's world). --Daphne Durham --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

King's (Pet Sematary, Audio Reviews, LJ 11/1/98) fantastical and allegorical "Dark Tower" series commenced in 1982 with the publication of The Gunslinger. Subsequent volumes have appeared about every five years thereafter. The Gunslinger introduces protagonist Roland as he pursues the Man in Black through bleak and tired landscapes in a world that has "moved on." Roland believes that the Man in Black knows and can be made to reveal the secrets of the Dark Tower, which is the ultimate goal of Roland's quest. The Waste Lands sees Roland and his fellow travelers continuing the quest for the Dark Tower. They journey through imaginative landscapes, over astounding obstacles, and meet with and confront a unique and fully drawn cast of characters, both human and nonhuman. Reader Frank Muller gives voice to the characters with a thoroughly engaging precision, accuracy, and great humanity and with an edge that drives the story onward and seems to amplify King's skill as an author. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.?Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Dark Tower (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Revised edition (June 24, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452284694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452284692
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,816 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 157 people found the following review helpful By Adam Shah on May 30, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Neil Goldsmith on April 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read a number of reviews of the series and have been told by friends how great it is, so I decided to check it out. Reading and understanding the intro/forward King has written in this revised edition helped a great deal. King wrote this book early in his career with the intention of writing a grand epic. He explains the author of this book at the time had not really found his groove so to speak and had spent a little too much time in writing seminars. One particularly revealing comment King makes about himself was that the seminars taught him to favor ambiguity over clarity and simplicity. He also goes on to mention when he revised the book he found many areas for improvement, but was able to leave the writing alone in places where he was seduced into forgetting the writing seminars by a particulary entrancing piece of story.
I find this captures the book well. Reading it, the book shifts from a very interesting tangible plot to the Gunslinger slipping into ambiguous dreaming and past thoughts within the same page. You can almost tell where King has gone back and done revisions as you can see his 30+ years of experience fixing his amateur mistakes.
Taken by itself, I didn't find the book that intriguing. Just average. Taken as a series I will definitely trek on to the future volumes as a number of people have told me the first one is sort of one you just have to get through. It's good it is a quick read and sets up alot of what will be revealed later.
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86 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Marie Anderson on September 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.


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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171 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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