I have fond memories of reading The Gunslinger way back in college. It was one of the first books I read for myself after a very long break from reading for my own enjoyment. AP English courses in high school had killed any interest I had in reading. There was too much analysis and not enough just reading for the fun of it.
What drew me to this book was a mash up of a few traits. I’d not read any Stephen King yet, and was interested to try something of his. Also this looked to be a mix of western, horror, sci/fi, and fantasy.
Now that I’ve re-read this over a decade later, here are my thoughts on Stephen King’s The Gunslinger:
It was awesome getting to meet Roland and Jake at the beginning of their journey again. Roland’s control of his guns and the Mid-World dialect were like stepping into a well worn pair of comfy shoes.
But, this book was no where near as good as I remember it being. Back when I read it the first time, the extra weight of it being my first real Stephen King book may have influenced my opinion as I read it.
This time around it felt rather disjointed. There was no real character building. This probably has roots in the fact that this really isn’t a novel, but a woven together collection of short stories. Originally these stories were published in the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 70s. In the early 80s SK put them together as a book. Then, again when he was finishing off the last three books of the series, he revised it again to add in references foreshadowing to the later story.
It was awesome going back into this journey once again, but I was let down by this first installment. I’m still looking forward to the next book in the series though, The Drawing of the Three. Lots of other readers claim that the series gets much better after this first entry. I do remember book three, The Waste Lands, being my favorite.
Next up in the Dark Tower Re-Read is a few books that aren’t in the series, but are other SK books connected to the series. Next up will be The Talisman by SK and Peter Straub.