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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

Source: Borrowed

Buy It

  1. November 4, 2009 at 5:25 am

    I love this book and I had never read Stephen King before my Dad lent me this. He told me it was perfectly safe as it was fantasy and of course I was petrified but still enjoyed it. I’ve read 4 from the series now, I have The Wolves of the Calla to read next.
    Thank you for review I was just about to do one myself!

    • November 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

      Oh, you’re way ahead of me! I’m borrowing the second in the series tonight. I’m alternating back and forth between this and the Sookie Stackhouse series. I saw when I visited your blog earlier this week that you’re reading The Dark Tower too. How random and awesome is that?

      • November 5, 2009 at 4:57 am

        I’m so excited I’ve found someone else whos heard of The Dark Tower let alone reading it, obviously great minds think a like 🙂
        Ooo the 2nd book The Drawing of the Three is good, a lot longer than The Gunslinger though, actually they consistently get longer. The Wolves of the Calla is huge!

  2. November 5, 2009 at 9:34 am

    Hehe, yes, indeed great minds do think alike! My boyfriend is about 4 books ahead of me in the series, so I’ve seen how much thicker they get! It must be a rule of series, because Harry Potter is the same way. 😉

  1. November 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm
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