Book Review The Gunslinger

I finished reading this book and another, and have almost completed a third.  I’ve gotten behind on my reviews.  Going to try and get caught up.  Here is the first…

Roland Deschain became the youngest challenger to ever best his trainer in the yard behind the Great Hall, beating the record by two years, a record set by his father.  Roland’s unconventional choice of weapon was David, a raven he did not train but friended.

The gunslinger is now on a confusing quest through a dystopian Old West littered with remnants of our time, our world, things we would recognize, as well as things we would not.

Roland is determined to catch up with the elusive man in black.  We, like he, are unsure what drives him or what he plans to do once he catches up with the man in black but the real goal lays beyond that – the Dark Tower, a symbol common to tarot card decks.

There are quite a few flashbacks implemented but the reader is never lost when these occur.  Roland remembers his youth, his family, and primarily his time training to become what he is.

His quest sees him enter a small town where the man in black, having passed through earlier, posing as a priest, warned the townspeople of an approaching interloper, an anti-Christ that must be destroyed.

Roland moves effortlessly through the town, interacting with the townspeople, even taking a lover, before a tent revival sets the townspeople on edge.  They are whipped up into a religious frenzy that ends in bloodshed.  It is a very well written scene but tragic.

Roland later hypnotizes a boy named Jake who doesn’t realize he has suppressed memories of being a schoolboy in a world much like our own.  The boy was killed in this other world, or other life – or something.

There are also memories of a hanging, Marten the enchanter, a Golgotha place of skulls, an encounter with an oracle/succubus trapped in a remote sanctuary as well as slow mutants haunting an abandoned subway system.

The symbolism is nonstop, contemporary and religious, cluttered to the point of excess at times.  I felt as if much of it was unnecessary but I do realize there a few more books to read in The Dark Tower series and this is not the end.  Perhaps these things will come more in play later.

I don’t customarily read horror, so I will admit, I don’t read Stephen King.  The only other Stephen King book I read was back in 1984 when he released The Eyes of the Dragon, which I will have to re-read and review here one day because I was a teenager back then and don’t quite remember if it was good or not.

The Gunslinger is an impressive book but I must admit the author’s style of writing kept me on edge.  It would flow and as a reader I would be coasting right along and suddenly the author would throw in a phrase or word which seemed, to me, out of context or purposefully unnecessary.  I kept thinking when I hit these curiosities that it was like the repetition of a machine gun followed by a trip wire.

And at the same time the huge body tried to take the invader and enwomb it.  Outside nothing watched them but the bruised sky.

I don’t know if this is common for Mr. King’s writing but this and other phrases like it caught me off-guard.  The version of The Gunslinger I read is the Plume Book before he evidently made some revisions.  I don’t know what these revisions were.

Overall, I recommend this book.  It is not horror although it contains some.  It is an imaginative story that will keep the reader turning the pages – just be wary of the trip wires.  4.5 stars.

Allen M Werner is the author of the epic fantasy series The Crystal Crux
Click Here to see Allen M Werner’s Amazon Author’s Page
Click Here to see Allen M Werner’s Smashwords Page
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