Dark Tower review

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

May 5, 2009 -- 11:16 p.m.

"True love, like any other strong and addicting drug, is boring -- once the tale of encounter and discovery is told, kisses quickly grow stale and caresses tiresome... except, of course, to those who share the kisses, who give and take the caresses while every sound and color of the world seems to deepen and brighten around them. As with any other strong drug, true first love is really only interesting to those who have become its prisoners."

--Dark Tower IV: The Wizard and the Glass, by Stephen King.

I finished Stephen King's Dark Tower series. In some ways, I was a little disappointed by the ending, but at the end of it, I'm really not. The journey was well worth it. I read for the world, and Stephen King is a master of good details and realistic people/creation. I may read some of his other books, though the other ones of his I've read haven't grabbed me. Maybe because they weren't so epic.

The Dark Tower is a series about Roland of Gilaead, a kingdom medieval in sensibility save for the gunslingers, who crafter their pistols from Excaliber, the high king Arthur of Eld's sword. They are the White, the good, but sometimes being doing good means being dirty, and Roland is more gray than White at times.

He is accompanied by various people/creatures, including several people from our world, including a boy, a recovering heroine addict, and a black double-amputee with multiple personality disorder who has a hell of an attitude. On their way to the Dark Tower, the holy grail that keeps the world together, so to speak, they must fight their way past mutants, evil wizards, half-spider shapeshifters and homicidal choo-choo trains.

My two cents is that this is definitely a B.A.F.S. worth adding to your bookshelf. The characters are different and utterly real. The details ooze with magnificance. This are the kind of books that, as writer, make you want to write, because you read a paragraph and his words dance. They're so visceral, they roll off the page. The paragraphs of description make me excited. Mind you, that doesn't begin to happen until book two or three--the first book is more a collection of short stories and lacks the broad brush strokes of the latter part of the series.

But if you don't like lots of description, slow-moving plots, and god-like shooters who never miss, this isn't the series for you. I didn't find the pace annoying because I wanted to take things slow, to delve into the language of the world and take my fill, but my brother doesn't feel the same way, so if you're not into that sort of thing, maybe you should skip it.

The only quibble I had was King's attempts to wrap all his books together into the Dark Tower series and include himself as a character, as well. But he did it with a sense of humor, so I didn't mind too much.

And the ending is a surprise. If I had written the Dark Tower, Roland would have turned out to be God, and would have stepped into that room at the top of the Tower to assume the controls of the universe. Does it violate any spoilers to tell readers what the ending isn't?

You'll notice the books I review here will probably be a little old. This is partly because I'm unemployed, thus don't have the money to spend on my true addiction (hardbacks) so I find most of what I read at the well-picked over library, where more recent selections, like Hunger Games, have over 100 holds on them. So I have to wait awhile to partake.

Plus, I've sworn off reading B.A.F.S. (my favorite flavor of book) until the author ends them. I've suffered through too much Robert Jordan, G.R.R.M., and Janny Wurts-caused angst to embrace unended fantasy series easily. Plus the oldies are sometimes the goodies, eh?

And, if I keep buying books, someday I'll have to sleep in the gutter because my house will be overflowing with hardbacks covered with silver dragons and longswords with rubies in the hilt. Ah, longswords.

Pat Holt had a great entry about beginning writer's mistakes here. Definitely worth reading and re-reading, IMHO.

Fantasy magazine has a nice short story up (close to a micro-story) called "Voice of a cello." It ends kind of abruptly as most short stories do, but I like the way Catherine Cheek has worked in the details and the dialogue together in such a short space, interweaving humanity and magic. I love the second line: She’d always been fond of loud noises, as long as they were real.

For me, that's a hook.

Catherine also has a web comic about chickens called Coop de Grace. Golly, I love puns.


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