The Conclusion of an Epic Journey: The Dark Tower

Toward the beginning of June, mostly on a whim, I finally picked up The Gunslinger, the first book of The Dark Tower series.

I didn’t realize I’d spend the next two months blazing my way through all seven (technically eight) books of the series.

I really should have known better. I adore Stephen King’s writing. His in-depth characterization and use of bone-chilling horror and suspense has me racing through any of his books. I’d been hearing great things about The Dark Tower. I knew it ventured from horror and belonged more in the Western and fantasy genres.

I’d been putting off starting it because although I play World of Warcraft, and read the associated novels, I don’t inherently gravitate toward fantasy. I’m that weird one that has never read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. I also hardly ever write anything fantasy-focused. Not to mention, ‘Western’ doesn’t usually make me want to run out and buy a book, either.

Then came The Dark Tower.

We start our journey with Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger of the line of Eld. By far this character was the best I’ve ever read. He lives and breathes on the page, looks out at you with those striking blue eyes, and you think, maybe, just maybe he could be living on some other level of the Dark Tower from where you stand now, that he’s not just a fictional character. It presents the possibility you could be walking down the street one day and run smack dab into him, realizing that there is a sandalwood gripped revolver on each hip. I could even imagine exactly what his voice would sound like, which is not something I experience often.

Although Roland was the most well-rounded and developed character, all the others were developed well and felt real as well, and I felt connected to them. Jake and Oy were some of my favorites, Jake with his relative youth but sharp intelligence and quick learning, he reminded me a little of myself. Oy was a fantastic character, even for an animal that is supposed to only mimic speech, but exhibits an intelligence and personality all his own without much dialogue or even insight into his thoughts. I could relate to Susannah and admired her tenacity and ability to continue getting up after being knocked down. Eddie was one of the characters I didn’t quite relate to as much, but still liked him a lot as a character and could see knowing someone like him. His love for his ka-tet and his bravery stuck out to me, especially as someone who had once been a coward and an addict.

Something that really amazed me about this series (and I don’t think has ever happened to me before) was the world-immersion that I felt, especially with the language of Mid-World. I caught myself thinking “palaver” instead of “discuss”, “sai” instead of “Mr.” or “Ms.”, and “ka” instead of the loosely translated word “fate”. I visited the San Francisco aquarium, and at seeing the turtle terrarium I immediately thought of the poem of Maturin.

While playing Guild Wars 2, I saw a portal that immediately reminded me of what I’d imagined a thinny looked like. Most of all, seeing the references to other Stephen King novels and the world building between them kept me glued page after page.

It kind of took over my life for awhile.

Ultimately, this book series took me on a journey like none I’ve ever seen before. I don’t think I’ve ever been as invested in a series as this one, and felt the same type of heartache and ‘book hangover’ as this one did. I’d recommend this series to anyone, really: to at least try it out. It is certainly the best Stephen King I’ve read so far, if not some of the best books I’ve read in my lifetime.

Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Have you read the Dark Tower series? Have you been meaning to? Let me know what you think about the books.

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14 thoughts on “The Conclusion of an Epic Journey: The Dark Tower

  1. lucysfootball says:

    Yes yes yes. LOVE DT. (My favorites were Eddie and Oy. Oh, how I wanted an Oy.)

    It’s a brilliant series. And you do get so pulled into the world. It’s so amazingly well-crafted. I still think of things from it, and it’s been a long time since I read it. I still think of my closest friends as my ka-tet. I told someone not that long ago “go, then, there are other worlds than these.”

    It made itself a part of me. I read a lot, and I have to say, there aren’t too many books that insinuated themselves as this series did.

    (And I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it, but there was one part in one book where I threw the book on the floor of my car and sobbed for twenty straight minutes, and I have to say I’ve never 100% forgiven Stephen King for what he did there. Still love him; still read him. But don’t know that I’ll ever TRUST him again.)

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    • Samantha says:

      I wanted an Oy too! His little words that he’d say would just warm my heart. Especially when Jake told him he needed to be quiet. “Kiyit.” AHHH. ❤

      I must know what part of what book. You can message me or something 🙂

      I feel like it's a part of me now, too. I couldn't believe how much it affected me.

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  2. Heather says:

    Yes, yes, yes! We are ka-tet, one from many. For sure.

    I’m SO glad you loved it. Yay!

    What do you think of that ending? Did the last book make you bawl (like it did for me)?

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    • Samantha says:

      I didn’t cry surprisingly. The book was so sad though. I had a stomach dropping moment when I read the ending and this overwhelming sadness, but at the same time I thought it was the right ending. I was thinking I was going to cry (even though I don’t easily), but I didn’t. However, it did make me want to reread it over again already, just to stay in the world.

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      • Heather says:

        I still haven’t started rereading Song of Susannah. I really need to do that this month. I think I’m afraid to get to the last book and bawl again. Haha!

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  3. writingbolt says:

    I’d say the series was different enough to refresh your reading senses. It wasn’t the author’s norm. It wasn’t your norm. But, being a fan of his writing, you took to it like a fish to water. I recall finding the last book in my hands a few years ago at my previous job. But, since I didn’t have the first book and thought the last book was thicker than anything I dared to read (before I took up reading after many years of only writing and drawing), I haven’t given the series a chance. However, from the little I have seen of it, it does capture my interest. The mix of fantasy and Wild West (as long as it’s not “Cowboys and Aliens”) interests me. The image you display of Roland standing before the tower and horizon is my kind of art.

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    • Samantha says:

      Not to sound cliche’, but it is life-changing. Obviously, as I mentioned, I haven’t read other series like that because I haven’t read many series of that nature in the first place (like HP or LoTR), but I was incredibly impressed. I also tend to be a fan of in-depth character building, and that was certainly present here. If you get the chance, I’d definitely recommend them.

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  4. dawnhosking says:

    I wasn’t expecting the ending to be as it was but it takes nothing away from the epic series for me. Just waiting for someone like HBO to snap it up now and make an awesome televised series.

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    • Samantha says:

      I think I would love to see a televised version of it, hopefully so that they wouldn’t have to cut much out of it. However, it’s so detailed, I wonder if television could accurately capture it anyway. Plus, I’m not sure if I want to see who they’d pick to play Roland. I have such a clear picture of him in my head, even an imagining of what his voice sounds like…not sure if I’d want that ruined.

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      • dawnhosking says:

        I totally get what you are saying about who would play Roland as I have my own image of him too. Would be great to see it brought to life though – if done really well.

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