Friday, May 20, 2011

A Journey Through a Land of Magic and Gunfire 3-29-2011

by Jacob Adkins
   “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.’’ So begins the epic that is the “The Dark Tower’’ series by Stephen King. Broken into seven books, the story of Roland Deschain tells a story of heroism, romance, grief, courage and not giving up in the face of extreme odds.
    The first book titled ‘‘The Gunslinger’’ is five short stories that were originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. When the fifth part of the story was published in 1982, all five stories were published as one book.
    This book serves as an introduction to Roland, the last in a great line of warriors known as the Gunslingers. The Gunslingers are an ancient force that lived a life similar to that of the knights of medieval times.
    It also introduces Jake Chambers, a young boy from New York City who dies halfway through the book only to return later in the story. It also introduces the main driving force of the book series, Roland's quest to reach the Dark Tower.
    The second book, “The Drawing of the Three’’ was published in 1987. This book introduces the other two companions in Roland's quest. The first of these is Eddie Dean, who is a Heroin addict. Susannah Holmes who developed multiple personalities after having her legs cut off right below her knees.
    The book also introduces the reader to Roland's incredible will, despite being on the verge of death he continues on his mission to find his companions for his trip.
    The third book “The Wastelands’’ was published in 1991. The plot of this story revolves around the beginning of the quest to the Dark Tower in earnest. In the course of the book, Jake Chambers reappears in the story. The group arrives in the ancient city of Lud, where they encounter Blaine the Mono.
    “Wizard and Glass”, the fourth book in the series published in 1997, picks up right where “The Wastelands” ends with Roland and his friends trying to outsmart Blaine the Mono.
    After Eddie uses illogical riddles to defeat the train, the group exits in “The Stand’’ version of Topeka, Kansas. While there Roland tells the story of the first time he fell in love with a girl when he was about the age of 13.
    After finishing the story the group encounters Randall Flagg, the man in black from the first book. During the encounter Roland attempts to kill him and comes very close to succeeding.
    “The Wolves of the Calla”, the fifth book in the series, was published in 2003. It is a slow and tedious read that, after a while, becomes a very character driven book in a series of action driven books.
    But it is also a very important book because it introduces the reader to Father Callahan, yes the Father Callahan from “Salem's Lot’’.
    After the character driven “wolves,’’ the story picks back up the action driven “Song of Susannah,’’ which was published in 2004.
    This is a great book to continue the story on. It starts right at the end of “Wolves” and follows our gang of heroes to many when. The first one being Maine 1977, where Eddie and Roland find themselves and the other being New York City 1999.
    “The Dark Tower’’ is the best book in the series, because it is just one gunfight after another. Whether it is the gun fight to start the book with Father Callahan and Jake fighting their way through a restaurant filled with vampires the final book of the series really exemplifies what it is to be a “gun slinger.’’
    To an assault on a compound with psychics under the control of the Crimson King, the main protagonist, are trying to bring down the Dark Tower. Roland's final encounter with the Crimson King.
    This series of books is just that, a series in which you just can't come in and start with the third book and not miss anything.  The books aren't stand-alone books as well; they all tie in to each other and lead to the next book. Stephen King also figured out a way to connect many of his other works into the Dark Tower Series, ranging from “Salem's Lot’’, ‘‘The Stand’’, “Heart in Atlantis’’, and “It.”  Anyone who is a fan of fantasy, science fiction, westerns, or epics in general, will love these books.

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