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Stephen King - The Dark Tower Series: A Book Review

Updated on January 30, 2015

Stephen King takes his readers on a seven-book journey that includes a mix of science fiction, fantasy and spaghetti-type westerns with The Dark Tower series. And though it may take the reader several months of devout reading to complete The Dark Tower, Stehpen King began his journey in the late 70s and did not complete it until 2006.

The first and shortest book, The Gunslinger (originally published in a magazine), is perhaps the most difficult to muddle through. As many King readers know that he either lays it all out in the beginning or takes you through a sort of foundation period; The Gunslinger is the latter of the two.

The reader is introduced to the main character, Roland, who is the last surviving gunslinger, a warrior of sorts, and his unstoppable quest to The Dark Tower. Brought into a world that is unfamiliar, combined with a vocabulary that is non-existent, the reader might be somewhat frustrated at first but, with patience, it all comes together, and it is likely that the reader will take on the vocabulary both in thought and speech.

photo courtesy of Randy Son of Robert-Flickr
photo courtesy of Randy Son of Robert-Flickr

The pace quickens immediately in the second book of The Dark Tower series, The Drawing of the Three. With patches of sometimes long, drawn-out but very necessary back-stories, the reader is introduced to the characters that join Roland on his quest. Different worlds collide, and Stephen King’s ability to make a reader believe that even a fish could fly is evident, as he brings you into a story that will force you to stay up past your bedtime.

The Dark Tower Paper Back

Followed with The Wastelands, King continues to take the reader on a journey through, as the title suggests, a wasteland; a chaotic and strange world found in the likes of science-fiction books. Faced with multiple edge-of-your-seat obstacles, it is in this book that Roland and the other characters form their “ka-tet” which adds to the suspense of each hurdle they face.

Wizard and Glass, my personal favorite of The Dark Tower series, is an incredible, pleasant surprise from King and could be a stand-alone book in the series. A back-story for Roland, Wizard and Glass is an incredible love story (the best I have ever read) that includes science fiction and action-packed drama. Who would have ever pinned King on the ability to write such a love story? Introduced to new characters not easily forgotten, the reader becomes, perhaps, just as haunted by the past as Roland.

Wolves of the Calla, the fifth book in the series, will introduce the reader, again, to a new place and dozens of new characters, and even old characters that King has written about in previous books. It is this book where the reader might want to begin buying and/or re-reading King books that were written way back when.

Book 6

The sixth and seventh books in the series, Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower, respectively, continues to be action-packed, although it could be misconstrued as overly-chaotic, because there is so much going on all at once. The reader will find that they can’t read the book fast enough but at the same time dread the story’s ending, because they simply don’t want the journey to end.

The DarkTower series is an incredible saga; the ideal reader would be one who enjoys taking a journey and getting lost in print. It would be a great idea to read with a partner, because there is so much to speculate and discuss. It is a story you might want to re-read (which I have done) not just once, but several times.

A short story written by King in 1997, called The Little Sisters of Eluria (contained in Everything’s Eventual) details a part of Roland’s journey that occurs before The Gunslinger; however, I wouldn’t recommend reading it until after the completion of The Gunslinger.

After reading The Dark Tower series, you may want to re-read numerous books written by King in order to understand the many “links” that are included in his novels. It may also prove to be somewhat costly, as the reader may need to invest quite a bit of money in purchasing books they haven’t read that have suddenly become must-haves. Both characters and places mentioned in The Dark Tower series are written about and referred to in King’s other works—throughout his entire career. You will find the references to these novels in most of his books, by looking at the related works section.

The Dark Tower series contains so many different places and characters and was written over such a long period of time that King hired Robin Furth to help him keep track of all of the information, draw maps, chronicle events, etc. Furth comprised all of her material as a reference for readers in The Dark Tower: A Concordance. It is very handy, especially if purchased as the set of two, but should not be used as reference until the reader has finished Wizard and Glass due to spoilers. Of course, the second concordance should not be looked at until the series is completed.

And the latest addition to the series (2012)

The Dark Tower Marvel Comics

For the major fanatic of The Dark Tower series, the journey continues with the Marvel comic of The Dark Tower. Comprised of paper comic issues, the reader is also able to purchase each volume after the completion of all the issues in that particular volume as a hard-back book. Robin Furth assists in writing the comics, and every issue is approved by Stephen King.

If you decide to read The Dark Tower series, you will not at all be disappointed in the journey. However, I must warn you. I don’t believe that anything you read will ever compare to it—not even close.

Long days and pleasant nights!


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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Ooh, good! I noticed it when I was out shopping a few weeks ago, and bought it. Now that I've finished the Dark Tower books, I can read it (and withdraw, lol). Take care.

    • Deni Edwards profile image

      Deni Edwards 5 years ago from california

      Long days and pleasant nights!

      It is the hardest part, isn't it? The journey being over.

      Stephen King just came out with a new book to the series--The Wind Through The Keyhole. I just read it, and I love it.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Hello Deni,

      Thanks for the good review. I have been an SK fan for at least 30 years, but just finished the Tower Series last night. I think I'm experiencing withdrawal. I enjoyed it for the most part, and think he accomplished what he set out to do, without disappointing his fans (or without disappointing too many). I have Everything's Eventual, and I just took it out so I can read the story that relates to Roland. It took me some time to warm up to him after what he did to Jake in the Gunslinger. I too, read favorites over, and someday see myself re-reading the Tower series. I'm really glad I did. King writes characters that are so well developed, and you get to feel you know them so well. Thanks for the review, I'm reading several to see what others thought, and may write one of my own. Take care.