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What an opus! This story had my complete attention from start to finish. I loved delving into Roland's past, peeking behind the curtain of our somber gunslinger. We learn a lot without learning everything, and the face of the enemy has never been closer. King is a master of the written word, and I find myself echoing his language in my own world, sometimes without even noticing, you ken?
The series just keeps getting better. My favourite of the Dark Tower books so far. Why does Stephen King not write more Westerns? It’s the book I’ve been waiting for since starting the series. Almost entirely set in the past (after resolving the cliffhanger where the previous book ended), this book provides a beautiful, tragic, thrilling, entertaining, horrifying back story that helps us understand so much of Roland’s motivations. And while I love Eddie, Susannah and Jake, it was great to finally see Alain and Cuthbert as Roland’s companions. With at least a couple of uber cool moments as Gunslingers.
Does it advance the main plot? Not by much. But without this book, the entire series would probably make a lot less sense. Which makes it absolutely essential.
I read the gunslinger years ago when it first came out. In fact I think I had it on audio tape. Loved it then but there was no more. I have only just found out Stephen king completed the series; although you took your time mr king. The whole thing is emotional I have cried and laughed throughout and didn’t want it to end. A masterpiece for the times and this book was one of my faves although the last one is life changing. Get all of them and hunker down like Roland.
The quest of the Gunslinger and his companions takes a detour as King gives us an insight into Roland's boyhood, a story which occupies most of this long book. It is fascinating stuff if you are already hooked on the series, a richly imagined society from which the world has 'moved on'.
I found it absolutely brilliant (and 'The Wind Through the Keyhole' even better), though the pace is slow at times, bordering just occasionally on the tedious. It would be a mistake to join the series here. Better to start at the beginning, or to read 'Keyhole' which is a stand-alone novel outside the series.
It is King's genius to create three-dimensional characters, living in a strange but believable society, that sets him apart from all other writers of fantasy. (Christopher Priest is my other favourite.)