“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”
Im doing this reread with the always awesome, Olivia. Beginning with those iconic first lines, “The Dark Tower 1: The Gunslinger,” was originally released in 1982 and heavily revised in 2003 to fit the ending of the series. When you write a series of 7 novels all about one thing over a 20-year period, ideas are bound to shift.
We start with the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain of the fallen city Gilead, following the mysterious Man in Black. Roland is on a quest to reach the mythical Dark Tower, but first needs answers from the Man in Black. Roland’s world is “moving on” a phrase he continually uses to describe its death. He hopes that reaching the Tower will give him the answers to fix it.
“The Gunslinger” is a little on the slower side, pace-wise, but it is still a really intriguing read and King’s revisions were excellent in placing subtle hints about the upcoming novels. I enjoyed reading this more the second time than I did the first, and that is probably since I know more now. Going into “The Gunslinger” for the first time it is a tad confusing, but trust me, push through because the next books are some of King’s best work.
Below is a slightly spoilery synopsis so beware.
During his travels through the desolate Mohaine desert, we get glimpses into Roland’s childhood and learn just how this dark figure came to be. Roland is quiet and intimidating with an air of danger surrounding him. Throughout the novel you have a hard time deciding whether or not you like him.
Roland enters the town of Tull, following the Man in Black’s steps. Here he discovers the Man in Black has spread his influence on the people of the poor desert town. After shoving his gun up the cooch of a crazy religious fanatic and killing the entire city’s population, Roland moves on. He’s a savage, plain and simple. (side note: I hate to condone the movie… because it sucked… but the gifs are cool)
After leaving Tull, Roland happens upon a way station which seems to resemble today’s gas stations. Here he finds a boy named Jake Chambers. Jake is from New York and was transported to this world when he was pushed in front of a moving car and died.
Roland tells Jake of his past and how he bested his teacher Cort to become the youngest Gunslinger. Roland learns Jake is a sacrificial pawn in his journey to reach the Man in Black and the Tower. This part of the story gets interesting because King makes the reader attached to Jake and shows Roland’s growing affection for the boy.
Roland and Jake follow the Man in Black into the mountains where they fight off slow mutants (monstrous subterranean creatures) before coming to an abyss with a small, rickety piece of track across it. With the Man in Black on the other side of the abyss, waiting, Roland and Jake attempt to cross.
Roland makes it but before Jake can, the track breaks and Roland, instead of helping him, allows him to fall, but not before Jake utters one of the many famous lines in this series:
“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”
After Jake’s sacrifice, Roland and the Man in Black, aka Walter aka Marten, palaver (talk). The two discuss Roland’s fate with tarot cards: The Sailor, The Prisoner, The Lady of Shadows, Death, and the Tower. After some trippy scenes where the Man in Black shows Roland the universe and explains the Tower, Roland sleeps for 10 years, wakes up, and ends up on the beach watching the sunset.
“The Gunslinger” is a great intro to an even greater series, I’m really looking forward to the second installment, “The Drawing of the Three.” Before I get there though, here’s my rating for “The Gunslinger” after my reread: