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The Gunslinger (Revised Edition): The Dark Tower I Paperback – June 24, 2003
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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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Psst! (Hey - guys, use real butter (unsalted) or liquid vegetable oil, or mix the two, but NEVER do the margarine trick. Why? Margarine has water whipped into it! That means limp popcorn kernels).
Wizard and Glass serves as a detour -- it allows King to expand more on the gunslinger Roland's background. The book picks up immediately where The Waste Land left off. To recap, the third book of the series ends with a giant cliffhanger: the group of travelers are onboard a suicidal bullet train, and they must stump the train using riddles or else they will die also. So, the first moments of Wizard and Glass are onboard this bullet train and the subsequent game of riddles. It's extremely suspenseful, and very well done. Unfortunately for me though, these early moments were the highlight of the novel -- after the resolution of their predicament, Wizard and Glass slows down considerably. Early on, Roland decides he needs to get a story off of his chest, so he sits down Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy, and tells them about the first and only love of his life: Susan Delgado.
Most of the book is a flashback to this memory. The problem for me is that I'm more interested in the present-time issues of Roland: this story contains very little of the Dark Tower, Eddie (or the rest of the Ka-Tet) in favor for many of the characters that populated Roland's past. The story that makes up most of Wizard and Glass is good, but I just couldn't wait for Roland to move on and continue the search for the Dark Tower. This semi-standalone flashback is well crafted, intense, and it explains a lot of the reasons why Roland is the way Roland is. The style of the narrative though, is very different from what we've been exposed to so far: there's no doors to other dimensions, shifting times, giant mechanical bear-androids, etc... Wizard and Glass is much more reined-in and grounded in traditional fantasy styles.
But what are you reading this review for? If you've made it to the end of The Waste Land, finishing there isn't an option! It's too big a cliffhanger and the story is too good -- you WANT to know what happens in the end. For me, this novel was a detour, and grinds Roland's quest to a near-halt, but this break is a mostly enjoyable one. You won't learn a ton about the Dark Tower or how to get there, but you will enjoy the ride.
A word about the audiobook: the audio recording of Wizard and Glass is narrated by Frank Muller. He does a great job (similar to Roy Dotrice who narrates the Song of Ice and Fire books). The final listening time is about 24-hours long. Because this story is more grounded in a traditional narrative, it might make for a better listen than some of the crazier moments in Drawing of the Three or The Waste Land (where you might have to backtrack to ensure what you're reading is indeed what you believe is going on). There's also a chapter from Book 5: Wolves of the Calla tacked on at the end to serve as a preview for the next installment of the Dark Tower series.
Now, I'm 80% through the second book and it's a complete chore. Read my review of it when I finish and I'll decide if I want to continue the series.