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The Gunslinger is the first book of The Dark Tower series, a seven-book cycle penned by Stephen King. And it’s been around for a very long time. I, however, finally just got around to finishing it and like another piece of entertainment I wrote a review on this week, it’s making me wonder what the hell took me so long to dive in.

I’ll keep this one extra short for those of us who dragged our feet on this novel and series.

The Gunslinger starts thusly:

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

The titular gunslinger is Roland, and like the protagonist — after reading that sentence — I, at long last, felt compelled to follow the man in black as well.

You see, Roland is the last of his kind. A pistol-wielding, cigarette-smoking cowboy fueled by the insatiable desire to find the location of the legendary Dark Tower, the epicenter of universes and our very existence. And the only man to help him find it is the mysterious necromancer in black who is always a few steps ahead.

The Good:

  • Roland is an interesting protagonist.
  • The man in black is a great villain.
  • The implications of the Dark Tower.

The Bad:

  • I wonder if King knew he was going to turn this into a sprawling series at the time of its writing.
  • Some readers may find it slow but I am told its tone is much different than the rest of the series.
  • The movie adaptation.

If you haven’t taken the plunge into King’s genre mashup series filled with wizards, cowboys and magic, The Gunslinger is where you should start. I’m very excited to tag along with Roland for the rest of his existential journey.

And, at the end of the day, aren’t we all chasing the Dark Tower? King, you beautiful sorcerer.

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