Book Review: The Gunslinger By Stephen King
The first in King’s epic, Tolkien-like Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger introduces Roland who lives in a world similar to, yet different from our own. He is the last gunslinger, a kind of wild west type warrior. As he pursues the Man in Black across a desert in the first of many steps toward his goal of the Dark Tower, some elements of his dark past are revealed, as are some secrets of the many parallel, yet somehow linked, universes.
I admit it. I’m not normally a Stephen King fan, but after two people I know started devouring this series, I decided I had to know just what was so exciting.
I’m shocked to discover, I like a Stephen King book. I’m not so shocked to discover that this is an incredibly male book. Roland’s life centers around violence, guns, a quest, the women he beds, and taking care of a boy. It isn’t just the plot line that’s masculine though. The writing style is decidedly male. Roland is abrupt and to the point. Instead of talking about his heart fluttering, he gets hard-ons. Instead of his palms sweating with nerves, his balls retract up tightly against him. It’s gritty, dark, and male. And I liked it.
It reminds me a lot of watching old westerns with my father. This shouldn’t be surprising, since in the introduction King essentially says that he set out to write the American version of an epic in the style of Tolkien. What’s more American and epic than the wild west? Oh, I know, a parallel universe version of the wild west. With mutants.
It is a bit slow-moving at first. That’s not surprising, though, given that it’s the first in a series of seven. Think of it as the introduction chapter, only prolonged through two-thirds of the book. It’s not a boring introduction by any means; it just takes a while to get attached to the characters and thoroughly engrossed in the over-arching story. That’s ok though, because King provides plenty of nightmarish scenes in the mean-time to keep you reading.
I’ve always had a bit of a tendency to thoroughly enjoy more masculine stories just as much, if not more than more feminine stories. (I was the little girl who was excited to watch the war movie marathon on Veteran’s Day.) If you know that you enjoy this type of gritty story, definitely give The Gunslinger a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
4 out of 5 stars