The Dark Tower Series is one of the best I have ever read. Unfortunately, you have to read this book in order to get the background information for the rest of the series. The first half of the book is fast and confusing. (I always go over something a second time if I don't understand it the first time. Don't bother, it is not important in the rest of the book/series.) You don't really understand what happens until the end when everything is tied together. The second half of the book goes slower and gives more explanation as to who Roland is, and why he acts as he does. (You finally understand him in book 4, 'Wizard and Glass') Basically, Roland is in a world that is parallel to ours. It seems like he is in the days of Billy The Kid, but then he talks of music playing on a juke box. (I'm not giving away anything significant, just something that throws the reader off) So it is hard to place him in a specific time frame. This is something that is important to me (I have no idea why) and I was frustrated by it.
In the very end of it all, I really didn't like the book and considered not finishing the series. I had already downloaded the rest of the books on a recomendation of a friend, so I picked up the next one. It was worth reading this first one so that I could enjoy the rest of the series.
So my recomendation is this:
Download the book and spend the few hours listening to it. It may not make sense in the beginning, but wraps up well in the end. It will be worth it all when you read the next book, 'The Drawing of the Three'.
The Book Conjurer
I'm probably the only person on Earth that dislikes Stephen King and still manages to read one or two of his books a year. He certainly knows how to craft a page-turner and he shows occasional brilliance in character development, but most of his work is chock-full of ham-fisted imagery, ill-fitting pop culture references, and over-moist sex scenes. That said, "The Gunslinger" is Stephen King at his best with little of the mediocrity that plagues many of his other books.
Roland's relentless pursuit of the man in black echoes events and characters from Browning's Childe Roland. It combines the desperation of Elliott's Waste Land with the imagery and violence of a spaghetti western. But most importantly, it works! The Gunslinger has the gravity of an old myth and is grittily satisfying.
The other Dark Tower books are nowhere near as subtle or well-crafted. Take for example, the asinine antagonist of the third book: a sentient, evil locomotive ("Blaine the Train is a pain"), or the Wizard of Oz rubbish tacked onto the end of the fourth book. These grotesque elements are garish lipstick smeared on a corpse by an over-eager mortician. How can the Roland we have come to know and love in "The Gunslinger" maintain his dignity in the face of such laughable adversities?
If you're a fan of King's early work or even if you've tried later Dark Tower books and disliked them, you should absolutely give this book a listen, but I recommend you avoid later books in the series.
I have been an avid fan of Stephen King's since I read my first novel about 15 years ago (Thinner). He is right on par with his usually vivid desciptions in this volume of the dark tower, but he is out of character in drawing out the story. I have already read and listenend to the second volume of this series, The Drawing of the Three (OUTSTANDING), and I now understand all of the fine points of this text. This book is a must read/hear for the rest of an outstaning series although it is just "good" compare to King's usual work. Trust me, once you hear volume II, you will be hooked.
Ahhh...yes, THE GUNSLINGER. What fond old memories I have of this novel (and of its far superior sequel, THE DRAWING OF THE THREE). I still recall how much fun reading these books was for me. Of course, that was some time ago, near the end of my SK phase. Would the books still satisfy? With a strong portion of sentimental fervor, I decided to find out. I therefore downloaded THE GUNSLINGER with some degree of warm fuzziness already accumulated in my subconscious literary lint trap; I imagined that rereading it would be just like visiting an old friend.
And it was sort of like that.
But, really, it was more like revisiting grade school. Everything that had once seemed grand and important could not be taken seriously now. I read somewhere that King wrote this book while he was in college. That sounds about right. As I recall, I was about that age when I read it. So it makes sense that I would have enjoyed it then -- just as I used to enjoy riding my Big Wheel when I was five but wouldn't enjoy...hmmm. Never mind. I would probably still enjoy riding my Big Wheel, that is if I could still fit behind the tassel-adorned handlebars. But anyway...sadly, like the world in which the Gunslinger dwells, I, too, have moved on.
But, ah, the memories...
Oh I guess it was not an entirely bad experience revisiting THE GUNSLINGER. At first everything was fine. A gravely voiced narrator was there to greet me warmly. No problems there. I seem to remember his gravely gravely-ness from THE GREEN MILE. And so, smiling, I settled in for a listen and was immediately impressed by how oddly exciting it was hearing Sir Gravely utter that wonderful first line of the novel. How does it go again? Come on; say it with me:
"The Man in Black fled across the desert. And the Gunslinger followed."
Soon after, however, my excitement faded, as did most of my enthusiasm for following along with The Gunslinger on his long, weird, fanciful quest after The Man in Black.
Keep in mind that I'm not King's biggest fan when reading my review. This is only my third Stephen King book (also read Bag of Bones and Dreamcatcher (both of which I really enjoyed)) but I can't seem to get into the book. Normally I can't wait to hear the next 30 minutes of a book now I just can't wait till the end of the month so I get another 2 credits to buy another book. Who knows maybe I'm missing something. The story is very well written and you can truely picture the setting but as I said, I can't get into the story.
Without a doubt one of the greatest reading pleasures of my life. I have read everything Stephen King has published but this series is King at his best. You can feel how much he cares about his characters. Roland is one of my personal hero's and one of the best drawn literary figures I have ever encountered. All of the Dark Tower volumes stand by themselves but pay particular attention to "The Drawing of the Three" and "Wizards and Glass". You can expect to read them over and over again. Thank you Stephen King.
I love the fact that there is constantly something more to understand. It always maintains it's mystery.
Roland's voice is awesome.
Best book ever!
Roland, so genuine, so real.
The beginning, the ending... Excellence!
Stephen King is the master of his art and George Guidall is the master of his. Just let yourself go to this new world and enjoy.
I just achieved App Scholar!! 1000 hours in 1 yr 7 mo and 10 days!!! I never thought I would make it this far!! Thanks Audible
Made it more understandabl
I don't know, I just found it was a little back and forth!!!
I thought it would be a lot better
When I first started to enjoy reading books as a teenager, Stephen King was often my choice. I have read nearly every book he has written over the years. I have many favorites out of his many books, but it has always been The Dark Tower series that I've been most excited about. Since this first book, I always couldn't wait for the next in the series. I would have dreams about Roland and his friends at night after reading. These books are what got me into reading fantasy books, and they will always be my favorites.
After reading the series more than a few times, they were of course some of the first I downloaded as audiobooks. Listening to them only brought new joy to each book. I highly recommend The Dark Tower Books.