22 April 2009

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

If I'm lucky, my commute to or from work each day is about 30 minutes long. That gives me an hour a day to take in a story (or sometimes more, if I'm unlucky). With my eyes on the road and the drive taking up some of my concentration, I can't take in too complex a story but when I saw Stephen King's Gunslinger book I thought it would serve for a few day's entertainment.

Only after I started it did I learn that this was the first of a series of 7 books which Stephen King considers his magnum opus, and which take in by reference throughout a variety of his other fiction. (Thank you, wikipedia.)

I found it entertaining to listen within the story for the references to previous King stories such as The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon; I'm the type who likes to hunt for easter eggs in software too. The main character, Roland Deschains, was not compelling to me, but the characters he encountered were - I truly wanted to know more about the naif Jake and the wizardly Man in Black. Sadly, at the conclusion of the story these two seem to be leaving the story arc (though one can never tell, it is authorial fashion to bring back supposedly dead characters from time to time). The ruins of the ancient civilization that the travelers pass through underground were fascinating, as were the mutants they encounter. I'm not sure yet if I'll be reading the next book in the series; it is hard for me to engage with a series that lacks a strong central character, and Roland just wasn't such a strong presence for me.


Unknown said...

It's a fun book and a good series too. I was one of those fans who read it way back and waited months and years for King to write the next book. Then after his accident, he retired and all hope that the series would ever be finished was lost. Then he came out of retirement and finished the series. In my opinion, it was a case of be careful what you wish for. The first four books worked very well and yes the focus does shift from Roland and back in future books. I'd recommend the entire series, but if you stop at #4 or 5, I wouldn't sweat not finishing. (King produced 2 series from Marvel in graphic novel form of Roland's past adventures & The ka-tet of Roland, Alain and Cuthbert: http://www.marvel.com/comics/Dark_Tower)

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