I’ve had the first book of The Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, for quite some time. I think about four-odd months easy. At last I’ve picked up the novel. So is the first entry in Stephen King’s magnum opus, as he himself often similarly describes the saga?

The novel starts off with the gunslinger Roland in pursuit of a man dressed in black, who might serve to be of key importance in his quest for the Dark Tower, a tower of which he knows little and understands even less, but seeks it just the same. Roland has left behind his own world and dark past to get to Dark Tower, and along the way he makes acquaintance with people who have led similarly dark lives. The novel is set in a wasteland desert with a touch of the good ol’ Wild West feel in it. At the same time, it also gives us a hint of what could very well turn into an epic fantasy-type.

How’s the book itself? The protagonist, Roland, is not a very likable character(yet), but he is believable with his somewhat archaic notions of duty and honor, coupled with a certain ruthlessness. But the book itself felt a bit patchy in its pacing and the overall feel. Parts of it are outright brilliant, especially the action parts, but at the same time other parts felt slow-ish and just generally a wee bit uninteresting. There were moments where I actually thought of leaving the Dark Tower quest for later, but leaving a book incomplete is an action I consider to be sacrilege, so I stuck with it. At least the book ends strongly, and gave me the impetus to pick up the next book in the series.

Overall, I would say the book is good, but not an especially good one. I have read a few of Stephen King’s works, and while he is undoubtedly a brilliant writer, I feel he does occasionally go a bit bonkers in his writing. The Gunslinger suffers a bit more than usual from this, but the action parts are written in a way that’s beyond great. Anyway, for those who want to start The Dark Tower series, you might get a bit put off by this book, but hold on to the series because there are flashes of brilliance here that may spark the flame for the sequels in the series. You will like the book even more if you are a fan of the revolver-toting Westerns.

RATING : 7.3/10

 

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