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The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus Paperback – September 28, 2004

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The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus + Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance, Revised and Updated + The Dark Tower Companion: A Guide to Stephen King's Epic Fantasy
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451213041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451213044
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How does one determine what the greatest work of an author’s career is? The answer to this query, posed in the final pages of this book, can be found throughout Vincent’s in-depth analysis of King’s seven-volume Dark Tower epic (The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, etc.). Making sense of a story that switches back and forth through time, across multiple universes, and involves the safety of a tower that represents the fate of all existence is no easy task. Kudos to Vincent for even trying. But readers beware—the work is analyzed in its entirety, so expect spoilers galore. Vincent—whose column on Stephen King, "News from the Dead Zone," appears in Cemetery Dance magazine—tracks the evolution of both King’s three-decade avocation (the very first line was written in 1970) and the development of the saga’s characters and plot. Most importantly, Vincent shows how the few members of gunslinger Roland’s fellowship, recruited to help him protect the Tower, slowly evolve from reluctant participation to resolve about their leader’s quest. Former cocaine addict Eddie, for example, puts his sarcasm and skepticism aside and learns to embrace the dream of his surrogate father. As Vincent writes, "If Roland were to die on their journey, Eddie would continue with the others, for having dreamt of the Tower and the field of roses, the compulsion to reach the Tower claims him, too." Vincent also devotes a full chapter to discussing some of King’s other works that are related to the Dark Tower series, such as Hearts in Atlantis and Insomnia. In light of King’s own admission that the Dark Tower epic is the nexus of all his books—"The Dark Tower finishes everything that I really wanted to say"—Vincent asserts, "What else, then, is a magnum opus if not something that both ties together and summarizes a person’s life’s work?" With this thorough analysis of King’s epic, Vincent proves himself a master of the Dark Tower world.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Vincent's expansive synopsis of horrormeister King's Dark Tower saga arrives nipping the heels of its seventh and last volume, The Dark Tower [BKL S 1 04]. Besides recapping the epic itself, Vincent points out the most germane aspects of other King novels and stories that touch upon it, sketches its leading characters, notes influences on it, and discusses its creation and the layered, self-consciously reflexive concept (King himself is a character in it) that animates it. Appended are chronologies of the saga's writing and publishing and of events in its main setting, Mid-World, and in "Keystone Earth" (i.e., our reality from the 1950s on, but including the saga's characters' doings when, at various times, they enter it), a too-small Mid-World glossary, and the Robert Browning poem that initially inspired King. The large and perdurable King fandom should embrace Vincent's effort and spur him to correct misstatements about the Odyssey and Dante's Commedia, in particular, in the chapter on influences and explain the saga's many pop-cultural references (e.g., the Crimson King) in future editions. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Bev Vincent has been a contributing editor with Cemetery Dance magazine since 2001, writing the News from the Dead Zone column that appears in every issue. He is also the author of The Road to the Dark Tower, the Bram Stoker Award nominated com­panion to Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and The Stephen King Illustrated Companion.

His short fiction has appeared in places like Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, From the Borderlands and The Blue Religion. He is a contributing editor with Cemetery Dance magazine and a member of the Storytellers Unplugged blogging community. He also writes book reviews for Onyx Reviews.

He lives in Texas with his wife.

Customer Reviews

There wasn't anything I didn't already know by reading the series and the connected books by myself.
Jessica Rose
Then there is a chapter for each of the major characters, followed by several essays analyzing the series in the context of other great literary works.
In The Road to the Dark Tower, author Bev Vincent does an amazing job of bringing Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series to life.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 55 people found the following review helpful By T. Lundregan on October 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
With The Road to the Dark Tower, Bev Vincent has done a wonderful job of capturing the spirit, the breadth, and the richness of Stephen King's Dark Tower series and compiling it into a 350 page reference guide. Eager readers beware: this book contains spoilers to all DT books as well as many of King's other works. It is not intended to be read by anyone who hasn't finished all of the Dark Tower novels.

Vincent captures the essence of each of the seven DT novels in a single chapter, providing not only synopses, but ties to other novels, examples of King's influences from literature and life, and analysis on each book and the progression of the series. I especially enjoyed his presentation on the difference between the original Gunslinger (Dark Tower I) and the revised edition.

For me, who has read the entire series once and DT I-IV several times, the synopses were less important than the analysis and references. Vincent also points out foreshadowing that appears throughout the entire series that I either missed or had forgotten. Most interesting to me in this book were the other chapters and the appendices. Vincent provides both a summary and a timeline of the publication of all of the Dark Tower novels that shows a real knowledge of the publishing industry. He also provides several other timelines (FACT and FICTION) that help fill in gaps or put events in perspective. Finally, I enjoyed the chapters on King's other works and how they tie to the Dark Tower series. While some of these ties have always been obvious to serious King fans, Vincent provides much that had not occurred to me.

I found myself comparing this book to Hy Bender's wonderful Sandman Companion.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Calvin93 on May 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
I cannot heap enough praise on this outstanding review of Stephen King's Dark Tower series except to say that your quest for the Tower is not complete until you read it. Vincent highlights themes, patterns, and notable occurrences from all seven books. Even if you read the seven Dark Tower books in a row (and certainly if you have been reading them over a 15 or 20 year period), you would miss the brilliance of having a single overview of the series to connect a lot of the dots I never noticed. I think this is a MUCH better read than the two-volume Concordance by King's research assistant; that series is more of a glossary or index whereas this book is an ANALYSIS and review of the series. ROAD TO THE DARK TOWER starts out with seven chapters each devoted to the individual books, followed by an awesome chapter reviewing other Stephen King books that related to the Dark Tower series or characters - the obvious ones (Insomnia, Black House) and the surprising ones (a short story in Skeleton Crew, or Roland's appearance in Eyes of the Dragon). Then there is a chapter for each of the major characters, followed by several essays analyzing the series in the context of other great literary works. You get a complete picture of the Dark Tower series - which makes it all the more brilliant to view at once - and even a tantalyzing hint that King and Peter Straub may unite again for the third book in the Talisman/Black House series. I felt like I was back walking the path with Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy one more time as I read this book, and came to appreciate the series' ending even more. You will delight in the subtle clues throughout the seven books as to how certain characters ended up, and have a stand-alone cross-reference of King's other works' references to the Dark Tower is worth the price of the book alone. A must read for Dark Tower fans!
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kristian Andrews on September 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
Bev Vincent has done an incredible job here, not only with the history, analysis and review of King's Magnum Opus, but with bringing this project to publication. Congratulations Bev!

The book, in itself, is an indispensible resource and a must have for any Dark Tower junkie. I found myself learning and remembering things forgotten with the turn of each page.

The first ten chapters of the book deal with the publication history of the series, present a comprehensive analysis of each individual book (the original Gunslinger as well as the revised Gunslinger) and give an insightful look into each individual main character. I was surprised by the sheer amount of information packed into this volume, and how enjoyable it was to read.

My particular favorite section is the Appendices where Bev creates a timeline for the events of the Dark Tower Cycle. One of the biggest things I struggled with when reading these volumes was keeping track of how much time had elapsed. Bev does a wonderful job clearing that up.

All in all, I'd have to say 5 stars, well worth the money. For years to come, as I reread Stephen King's Magnum Opus, I'll make sure to keep this volume close at hand.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Henry W. Wagner VINE VOICE on November 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
After over three decades and nearly four thousand pages, Roland the Gunslinger's journey has come to its end as the adventurer confronts his destiny inside that strange edifice, the focal point of all existence.Given the considerable amount of time and effort one must devote to reading this epic, many might breathe a sigh of relief upon finishing and move on to other literary wonders. On the other hand (especially if you're one of King's devoted Constant Readers), you might feel the need to immediately begin rereading the seven-volume series in order to relive what you no doubt considered a pleasant experience (a desire in keeping with the spirit of King's ending, in which we learn that ka really IS a wheel).

If you fall into the second category, allow me to suggest a pleasant appetizer to precede your literary repast, Bev Vincent's perceptive book-by-book analysis of King's Gunslinger books, titled THE ROAD TO THE DARK TOWER. A thorough, eminently readable exploration of King's fantasy epic, THE ROAD TO THE DARK TOWER combines telling insight with a true fan's appreciation of the series, and will surely enhance your enjoyment of subsequent re-readings.

Vincent adopts a systematic approach to his analysis, initially providing a brief factual history of the series, from its origins during King's college days to the publication of the final volume of Roland's story on King's birthday on September 21, 2004. Finishing that, he proceeds to discuss each successive volume of the series, offering detailed synopses of each work. Further up the "Road," Vincent offers chapters on "Related Works," "Dramatis Personae," "Epics, Influences and Ka," and "Art and the Act of Creation." He finishes strongly with a chapter entitled "Magnum Opus?
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