Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower I) Spoilers

"The Man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." That is the first line in the 7 novel length Dark Tower series by Stephen King. King is known mostly for his horror novels, but this series falls more in the line of science fiction than horror, but it maintains elements of horror as well as western. In the first book, we meet Roland Deschain, last of the gunslingers. Roland is on the trail of a wizard who has information on how he can reach the Dark Tower, which is Roland's ultimate quest.

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We pick up the story as Roland is midway through his quest. As he follows the trail of the man in black through the desert, he comes across a desert farmer named Brown (A sly reference to Robert Browning, who wrote Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came). Roland recounts to Brown about the last town he came through, a village named Tull. As Roland approached the town, he heard the chorus of "Hey Jude" coming from the saloon. At this point, I knew this was not going to be the average western.

The Man in Black, who had come through town before Roland, left him a trap. After a few adventures in Tull, the town becomes zombie like as they try to kill him. Roland's guns prove too much for the citizens of Tull, Roland lays waste to them all.

As Roland leaves Brown and continues his quest, he encounters a rusty hulk with a single word written on it in the language of the "old ones". The word is Chevrolet. He soon encounters a young boy named Jake Chambers. Jake has no idea how he ended up in hte middle of hte desert, so Roland puts him under hypnosis. Jake then describes what was for him a typical day in New York city. Jake is hit by a car and killed, then he wakes up in a different world.

Roland and Jake head across the desert in pursuit of the man in black. The ending is a shocker.

I found it fascinating that Roland's world of the future is not more technologically advanced, quite the opposite, things have run in the other direction. This is something I feel we will see in our lifetimes. (Just a feeling). Also, death is but a doorway into another world. Isn't this what most major religions teach us? IMO, this is King's greatest work, and worth checking out.


Michael Skaggs said...

I do think I read this one quite awhile ago, but enjoyed synching with you and my "dark tower" game post.

I envisioned the main character kind of like Clint Eastwood.

Ed said...

Yea, Stephen King said Roland was modelled after Clint Eastwood from the man with no name series.