So I meant to have this post out a really long time ago… like, you know, weeks ago. I suppose things don’t always go quite as planned, and that’s life. Now that I think of it, that is one thing that really seemed to be embodied in The Dark Tower. Not everything happens as planned.
Here’s a bit of an introduction to the series in case you’ve never read it or haven’t heard about it:
The Dark Tower is a fantasy/scifi/horror/contemporary fiction series written by Stephen King. Like your typical high fantasy novel, the series revolves around the main character and their band of friends who are set off on a noble quest, except, this isn’t your typical fantasy novel– Stephen King wrote it.
Now let me say up front that I’m not particularly a fan of Stephen King, but I’m not generally one to judge a book just because it’s written by someone I’m not too fond of. If enough people recommend it to me, I’m not going to pass on a decent piece of literature (one, in this case, that seems to be one of the ‘must read’ fantasy series).
Another thing to note is that this isn’t a review of the novel, more so just my thoughts on the series. I’m not one to write full-on reviews, but if my recount of the series prompts you to give it a shot, I’m not going to complain.
This is a no spoiler post.
Now that that’s out of the way… let us begin.
I started reading The Dark Tower at the beginning of this year without a clue as to what I was actually getting into. Really, I actually only started reading it so soon because my step father already had the first four books. I knew so little about the series that I thought there were only four books- boy was I wrong. There are actually 7, or 8 if you count the additional book The Wind Through the Keyhole written after the series was completed. If I hadn’t had access to the first few books, I’d probably have read a variety of other shorter fantasy series and left this series until I caught up on my to-read list.
So, I guess you could say that I was in for a bit of a surprise. Unlike the other Stephen King books that I’d read up to that point, I was drawn in immediately. Likely if you’re an aspiring author as I am, you’ve heard of the famous opening line to the series: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” The sentence is short, but wow, it gives you a lot. It’s the picture perfect opening line. No, really. For a person like me who sees writing as a very visual thing, that tiny line is an entire painting. Stephen King quite literally opened the door to his world with this sentence, giving me a complete image to toy with until something new became relevant. Often times now when editing pieces for others, I push them in this direction. While I know it will be hard for most to reach the perfection this sentence holds, many can pick up on parts of the imagery that it gives, and that alone is a huge improvement.
Truthfully, since I’m still in the process of transitioning over from crappy YA to fantasy and more adult genres, I can’t really compare The Dark Tower to other fantasy; I simply haven’t read enough (I guess that’s kinda weird, an aspiring fantasy author who can’t say they’ve read a lot of fantasy… but I guess I’m slowly changing that). Disregarding that, I don’t believe that this series can really be compared to other fantasy (and that’s not to say that it’s special, for the most part I don’t like to compare series as they all have their strengths and weaknesses). The Dark Tower lacked some of what you would expect in high fantasy, such as that it was lacking some of the ‘fantastical’ elements. Magic was very limited, and when there was magic, it wasn’t really controlled. (As our beloved Roland would say, the world has moved on.) there isn’t really a lot of magic or spectacular fantasy elements. Yes there was a whole new world thrown into the story- multiple worlds, actually- but that was more of the basis for it being fantasy at all.
I’m surprised to say that The Dark Tower was a highly emotionally touching series. Reading each book was like experiencing a series of never ending roller coasters. Really, for a large portion of the story I was up and down and up and down and throw in a loopty loop here and there. Within a few pages I often felt absolutely disgusted, on the verge of tears, and grinning with joy. I’ve never really read something that moved me so much, and so often. But at the same time I’ve never really read anything that I wasn’t sure about. I’m not even sure how to describe the uncertainty that I felt while reading it. Maybe just from the mixture of feelings in general? *shrug* The uncertainty wasn’t a bad thing, though. It made me keep my eyes open for details I probably wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Unlike most books, a lot of small details that are somewhat insignificant were often explained throughout the book- which I found actually quite pleasant, because it gave me the opportunity to guess at what was happening and then be reassured afterward whether my assumptions were correct or incorrect.
I’m going to leave it at that. If reading this post has you thinking of trying the series- then the characters and the story are up to you to discover.