Reading Stephen King – The Gunslinger

When I had originally thought about how I would write about this series I thought that I would wait until I had read them all and do one massive article about the entire thing. The problem with that is there are seven books with some being well over 700 pages. Needless to say, the better option is to write about each individually and I am glad it worked out this way. The Dark Tower series is beloved by so many King fans — and King himself — that each book deserves its own article so without further ado, let’s get into the first one.

Before I get too far I need to say that I am not finished with the series. I am well into the third book so I will be reviewing all of them as I finish them, so please bare with me.

The Gunslinger
Photo Source: The Gunslinger,

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” Those are the opening words to this book and they are perfect. With one sentence it completely sets up the entire book. Roland Deschain — the last gunslinger — has been chasing after the man in black for many years. When the story picks up Roland meets a man named Brown and his pet crow, Zoltan. He tells him of his time spent in Tull, a small town he stayed in before the start of the book, and how the man in black had stayed there before him. As it turns out, the man in black had set a trap that eventually turned the entire town against Roland, so what does Roland have to do to escape? Kill every person in the small town. As messed up as it was, this part was so amazing to read. As you’re making your way through this part it is so perfectly well written that you can easily imagine everything that happens.

Unfortunately, that’s at the very beginning of the book and that’s my favorite part. The other parts I do like about this book is the relationship he shares with a boy named Jake and the flashbacks of how he became a gunslinger. Roland meets Jake on his travel across the desert and ends up traveling with him. They end up helping each other along the way, until Roland ends up sacrificing Jake so he can catch up to the man in black. Its super messed up. The flashbacks are fun because we get to learn a little more about Roland. The battle when he declares his manhood is also interesting. They are allowed one weapon and Roland’s weapon of choice is his hawk.

The Gunslinger
Photo Source: The Gunslinger,

Now what didn’t work for me is pretty much the rest of the book. This book moves at a snails pace. If I didn’t want to read every King book and also have some friends who highly recommend this series to me, I’m not sure that I would have finished this book. I just had a hard time staying focused on this. I think this book is why a lot of people do not try to get into the series. I came into expecting something completely different from what I got.

With that being said, I am interested in reading it again after I finish the series just to see what I think about it/to see if it makes more sense. And while it isn’t my favorite book I have ever read I do think it’s worth it if you want to read the series. I know it gets better simply based on the second one.

The Gunslinger
Photo Source: The Gunslinger,

Rating: 2.5

Length: 231 pages

Favorite Quote: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

Niles’ rankings of Stephen King books:

  1. IT
  2. Mr. Mercedes
  3. ‘Salem’s Lot
  4. The Shining
  5. End of Watch
  6. Carrie
  7. Gerald’s Game
  8. Christine
  9. Finders Keepers
  10. The Gunslinger


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