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The Gunslinger: (The Dark Tower #1)(Revised Edition) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2003
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“Brilliant, fresh and compelling…will leave you panting for more.”—Booklist
“An impressive work of mythic magnitude. May turn out to be Stephen King’s greatest literary achievement.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Finely imagined…well crafted.”—Wichita Eagle-Beacon
About the Author
His Dark Tower books include: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wizard and Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole, Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower.
- Publisher : Signet; Reprint edition (July 1, 2003)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0451210840
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451210845
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.18 x 0.93 x 6.88 inches
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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While reading this book, it almost seemed like the author was creating confusion and misery for misery and confusion’s sake! Why would you do that in the first book of a series? If Stephen King’s name wasn’t on this book, I sincerely doubt most readers would have finished reading it. That said after completing the book I googled it and found King’s fans encouraging people to “power” through the book because book two is good, while on the same page I found others talking about underage sex that is weird in further editions of the series. This leads me to one question:
“Why did you create such frivolous misery in your novel Mr. King?” Apart from Jake, it just seems like pain that neither builds the character, nor furthers the story. It is, to me, uninteresting and does nothing but sear and jade your reader’s imagination.
This book was much less interesting than some less known/self-published smaller authors today like AC Cobble, Peter Flannery, A.G. Riddle and others. In fact this being the first Stephen King book I’ve ever read, I was left wondering if the only reason he has been so popular was due to the advertisements of his brand over the years. After all, prior to Amazon a writer could not easily get their works known or published. I now wonder if King is really deserving of his lofty place amongst well known literary authors.
The final quarter of this book from the flashback of Roland’s “coming of age” through the cave onward was decent and even good occasionally, but prior to that I wanted to stop reading the book several times.
Maybe my review is unfair, but this doesn’t seem like a work worthy of one of the past century’s most popular authors. Read it if you must, or just read the cliff’s notes version and save yourself some pointless misery.
THE GUNSLINGER, the first in the series, opens, appropriately enough, with “the gunslinger” chasing an unidentified man across a nameless desert:
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
The scene has the look and feel of an old spaghetti western, which King freely admits:
“… I realized that what I wanted to write was a novel that contained Tolkien’s sense of quest and magic but set against Leone’s almost absurdly majestic Western backdrop.”
I think he succeeded:
“The desert was the apotheosis of all deserts, huge, standing to the sky for what looked like eternity in all directions. It was white and blinding and waterless and without feature save for the faint, cloudy haze of the mountains which sketched themselves on the horizon and the devil-grass which brought sweet dreams, nightmares, death. An occasional tombstone sign pointed the way…”
The Gunslinger (eventually we learn is name is Roland – an epic/mythic/heroic name) comes across a mysterious young man who has somehow been transported from (our) contemporary New York to this strange land. No attempt is made at explanation.
When Roland comes to a town, we learn that this is post-apocalyptic time in which the world as we know it has been destroyed, possibly though nuclear war. It is a dystopian vision that predates the current popularity of such stories.
As the journey continues, old-fashioned magic becomes part of the mix. Also a bit of derring do in the style of Indiana Jones. Also some fantasy in the vein of George R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” (“Winter is coming.”)
And, of course, questions of good versus evil are explored.
Any type of cross-genre mixing is difficult to do well, much less on an epic scale. I have not even looked at subsequent books in the series in the hopes of being continually surprised when I do read them. I expect this volume is a good launch. If anybody could make it a success it would in the hands of Stephen King.
Stephen King revised this book and it is TERRIBLE!!! You get no back story and don’t know who some of the characters are, how they played a roll in Roland’s life, what he went through to get to where he is now. NOTHING!!! It is terrible!!
Top reviews from other countries
The gunslinger is following the man in black across the desert. It is meant to be a world different to ours which is old. There are some links to our world and some parallels.
If you are a King fan then the Dark Tower journey is an absolute must!
As a book I really enjoyed The Gunslinger. It is soo of the 70's and expanding the consciousness, yet still very Stephen King. I'm glad I read the revised version as the original, based on his foreword, mist have been been hard going at times.
I can’t see I’d spend 50-60£ on the full series of books unless the next one is MUCH better than this one
Parts of this book kind of reminded me of parts of The Stand.. not in its writing as such but in the narrative atmosphere
This isn’t the easiest of King’s books to get to grips with and the writing style is less accessible than usual. However, the cowboy/fantasy scenario is a fascinating one and sets the scene for the later books (which I’m told are more interesting). Apparently, much of what the author sets up in this volume makes a lot more sense later, but of course I’ll have to read all the others to confirm that. Though there is some proper gunfighting early on, much of the book is taken up with recounting the memories of Jake and the Gunslinger and building up the backgrounds of the characters.
An interesting read that promises much for the rest of the series.