Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

Tessa Bright Wildsmith

Gunslinger Roland of Gilead is no Harry Potter.

My husband and I are both avid readers and book lovers. When we first started dating, I constantly raved about Harry Potter - this was before the final book was released - and he went on and on about Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. So we made a deal. If I would read the Dark Tower series, he would read the Harry Potter series. He loved and devoured Harry Potter. I’m still not finished with the Dark Tower series.

I started the first book, “The Gunslinger,” with high hopes. Those high hopes quickly faded. Though I did enjoy the story and the characters very much, King’s writing felt laborious to read. What took King five pages to write could have been told in one.

I can’t say I hated it. I just never felt excited or look forward to reading it. Some books in the series were better than others. The second and fourth books had a much better pace and were easier for me to get through. As the series moved on, King’s writing did pick up. You can tell the first book was written very early on in his career, and the fourth one written after he had matured as an author and learned to condense his writing, if only slightly.

The basis for the story is Roland, the Gunslinger, is traveling across mid-world, trying to get to the dark tower. Roland’s world has “moved on,” and he’s convinced that if he can find the Man in Black and make it to the dark tower, he can fix the world he inhabits.

I have to give the books some credit because they weren’t all bad. I think the opening line of “The Gunslinger” is one of the best lead sentences ever written. “The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”

Our sports editor, Stefan Cooper, often says that sentence is reason he became a writer. King wrote it as an undergrad in 1982, but didn’t finish the seventh and final book in the series until 2004. King’s investment in the series is commendable. He was able to keep the characters and the story very much alive in his mind throughout his career and all his other novels.

The Dark Tower Series has many fans. There are probably far more people who read them and loved them than there are folks who did not. For me though, when I read five pages about the way the desert smells at night, I get a little frustrated and bored.

Fans of fantasy series such as Lord of the Rings will love The Dark Tower Series. But, if like me, they prefer a little less detailed description and a lot more action in their novels, they should probably skip this series.

Have you read The Dark Tower series? Discuss your thoughts on the book below.

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