There are too many things that would make no sense if you skipped the first book. These books continue one after another, building off the previous... like Lord of the Rings. A good example would be Lost versus CSI... you can miss an episode of CSI and not really miss much, but if you miss an episode of Lost you're screwed! >8o) And no, it's not a western, but it has elements of the old west... as it also has elements of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy. But I agree with Joseph, it's mostly a dark fantasy as most of King's books are... in fact, almost all King books are connected to the Dark Tower in some way. So if you enjoy King, you should enjoy the Dark Tower. Have fun!
I think the second book in the series is the worst one, anyways. It's rather slow moving and a lot of the action takes place in the minds of newly introduced characters.
The Gunslinger, I thought, was excellent. It was a touch difficult to follow, and the whole story was shrouded in mystery (who is the Gunslinger, what is the Tower, and why is he after it?) But that's what really appealed to me-the fact that we knew so little.
For me, reading the book was quite surreal. Others may disagree, but I thought it was excellent.
I agree with susannah-mia! If you're still in 5th grade or just semi-retarded, definitely skip this and read Harry Potter. The Harry Potter series is just so adorable. Or if Harry Potter is too HARD CORE for you then just rent The Care Bears movie. Only read the first four in this series so far. First three were awesome. 4th was a bit slow with the flashback. You have to read The Gunslinger!!! Its a quick enthralling read and it sets up everything else. It establishes the mystique.
yes, read. This is a beautiful book, and sets up the story wonderfully. The other books have more "color" in the writing, but mostly because Roland is surrounded by more people and personality. In this one he is new, dry, and he's walking through a mostly abandoned world that has moved on.
I thought this one was boring but important, I loved the 2nd one. The first one is more of a character set up, so that you get a feel for Roland and the desperation and sacrifices he faces for his quest. This is an epic tale that spans through many great adventures. To leave this one out would just be sort of missing that first step. I loved the 2nd book, it established the humanity and fraility of what the characters where before Ka (fate) changed them. This is an investment of time and patience. Stephen King is a wonderful but thorough story teller so to make it through all of these books you really just need to stick it out. I loved the series very much. Its not a western.. its full of adventure and violence and magic. There are epic battles, loss and love. The "Gunslinger" is a sort of ancient hero. The term is literal, he carries guns.
Remember.. this is Stephen King and it took him over 30 years to write this.
You have to read the first book and you definitely should. It tells how Roland BECAME a Gunslinger, describes their world wonderfully (the desert, the mountains, the almost ghost town and the tunnel through the mountains with the slow mutants) You would never know Jakes significance or what Devil weed was, or anything about Rolands past, or who the man in Black was, or why Roland wakes up at the beginning of the 2nd novel, etc. I have read the entire series twice, read this 5 times. I absolutely love this book. This, the 3rd and the 4th are the best IMO. Some of the 7th is great, not the complete ending though. The 6th book is by far the worst.
(Spoilers) I'd actually recommend reading 1 after book 7. I read Book 1 when it originally came out and did not get into it. Years later I then "restarted" the series at book 2 and read through 7 and then reread book 1. It does add something to the idea of Roland repeating his quest over and over until he gets it right.
yup read this book first its a little slow but on purpose hell its the desert in the middle of who knows where Ive read this series 3 times in one year Im looking for something else but get bored with them and return to a different tower book easy to get hooked