Review: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Title The Gunslinger
Author Stephen King
Year  1982
Stand Alone or Series The Dark Tower 1 of 7
Pages 234
Reading Time May 19 to 21, 2014


In the first book of this brilliant series, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger.

He is a haunting figure, a loner on a spellbinding journey into good and evil. In his desolate world, which frighteningly mirrors our own, Roland pursues The Man in Black, encounters an alluring woman named Alice, and begins a friendship with the Kid from Earth called Jake. Both grippingly realistic and eerily dreamlike, The Gunslinger leaves readers eagerly awaiting the next chapter.


I hoped for a different kind of book. I have a confession to make. I really like the stories Stephen King makes up but at times he loses himself. It's like he enjoy so much talking(writing) that he doesn't know how to stop. And this book had only 238 pages. I bet I will be bored by the last book with 500 pages or more. Let us see. I really hope I am wrong.

First of all, this book links 5 novellas. They all have a feeling of the old west but at the same time a parallel universe. The strange part of this novel is that most of it consist of memories and telling someone about some event. It's a bit strange.

The Gunslinger is the first tale and it started the way a story should start. "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." In this tale Roland comes across a house in the desert owned by Brown and his pet raven Zoltan. There he tell the tale of what happened in the village of Tull. The first reference to the word 19 is there and the Crimson King. I enjoy this tale most of all, with the exception of the last. They were the best. 

The Way Station is the second tale and where Roland meets Jake Chambers. In this one Roland perspective of Jake changes as he talks to a demon that tells him that Jake will be a asset against him. In this tale another memory. This time a training session with his teacher Cort, the falcon David and his good friend Cuthbert Allgood.

The Oracle and the Mountains is the third part of the story. Roland and Jake are out of the desert into a greener ambient. They come about a Speaking Ring where Roland has some LSD experience and he makes sex with the oracle as she tells him about Susannah and Eddie Dean. This story is a vision about the second book - The Drawing of the Three. After leaving the oracle, he briefly meets the man in black that says to him that they will meet briefly. Before leaving Gunslinger askes if Jack wants to come long or separate. Jake agrees knowing his role on the struggle between him and the man in black and probably he will be only a pawn.

The Slow Mutants again a memory of his past life. Roland, 14, because his of the magician Broadcloak and his relation to her mother, is set to take the trials to a gunslinger 2 years before of the youngest of gunslingers. Here we see Roland sacrificing David, his old falcon to achieve victory of Cort. (I was a bit upset and probably here we have an indication of Roland personality). Near the end of his journey Jake slips and Roland catches him but the man in black comes and says to Roland that he has a choice. Either he let the boy die or never catch him. Roland lets Jake fall to his death and he exits following his nemesis.

The Gunslinger and the Dark Man is the last tale where he meets the man in black. Probably the most important of ones. It sets the mood for the rest of the series (it's my belief). First Man in black shows him some Tarot Cards including "the hanged man" (Roland) "the sailor" (jake); "the prisoner" (a man) and "lady of shadows" (a two faced woman), "death" (but not for Roland), and the Tower itself. After showing him the cards The man in black tells him that he just a pawn to his true enemy, the one who controls the dark power. After a brief confrontation he has a visionary hallucination and the man in black tells him a tale about our cosmos. (it was like reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan again). As he awakes he sees that he had age ten years and he takes the jawbone of a skeleton near him. The book ends as it had started.

My honest opinion is that this book is an introduction of a majestic, huge series. I can understand King setting all his books here, since the The Dark Tower has layers and layers of realities. I understand now why several books are hinted to be read at the same time as this seven books. Probably that's what I am going to do.  8.5/10

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