I thoroughly enjoyed this new edition to the old Dark Tower series. Honestly, at first I was a little sceptical. It's been many years since I've read the series and I wasn't looking forward to having to figure out or remember who all the characters where. Not to worry, rather than focusing on expanding the story of "present day Roland" the reader gets a chance to delve deeper into Roland's past and also learn more of the history and lore of Stephen King's hard tack, dieing world. This is also a stand alone book, so if you haven't read the dark series, you can listen to this just fine. Stephen King share at the beginning a couple of points that will bring you up to speed.
The book is broken down into three stories starting with "present day Roland" and going back further and further into the history of Gilead. I found the way Stephen King formed these "stories within stories" very interesting. It was like going into a sleep or trance state only to come back out refreshed and ready to see another story (one that was still pulling in the back of your mind) come to and end.
I've read (not listened to) the Dark Tower Series, so I didn't come in with a certain narrator in mind. However, I know from other series how frustrating it can be when a new narrator (in this case Stephen King himself) comes in with a new voice. Not being attached to a narrator in that way, I found King's performance very good. What started out a little monotone opened up as the book progressed. Also, there's something interesting in hearing the author speak the accents he's created. I felt I got a better understanding of the history and lore hearing it straight from the Author's lips.
One last thing. There's a preview of Stephen Kings next book. Which means the story ends several chapters before you think it will if you're just looking down at your MP3 player. For me it was Ch. 14 out of 20 in the second download. Just a forewarning... I was expecting another 6 chapters and was like "wait... no... it's over!?"
I was somewhat surprised. The reviews seemed so good, and there were parts that I really liked, but I just couldn't follow along. Perhaps my mind wonders a little when I'm listening to books on tape? Perhaps you don't have the same attention to detail and visual cues (like people's names and places) that you get when reading a book. Perhaps it was the narrator. He had two voices... a narration that sounded a lot like the actor Jason Stathom (which was kind of cool) and the character voices which was a higher pitched more street-urchin version of Jason Stathom. Perhaps it was the disjointed way that the author seemed to bounce from character to character. It was hard to tell who I was following and where I was and even what they were doing at times. Too many sub plots and side stories. I just couldn't follow along. Perhaps your listening will be different and I hope it is, or perhaps you get into stride later in the book. I listened for eight hours before saying "enough".
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