‘The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.’
With these words, Stephen King begins his epic ‘Dark Tower’ cycle.
His fans, or Constant Readers, are embarking on a year long readalong of the 7 volumes (followed by ‘The Wind Through The Keyhole for reasons which will become clear).
The number 19 is of huge significance in the world of Roland the Gunslinger and his ka-tet therefore 2019 is the perfect year to do it in.
There are several ways in which you can join in-
- Read as a solo venture in your own time
- Join the Stephen King Constant Reader fan club page on Facebook and from there join in
- Use the Instagram platform to follow hashtags such as #allthingservethebeam2019
I am using the Facebook page and dipping in and out of the Instagram chat, as I find both move very quickly and as a result I often miss the discussion posts.
January is focussing on Book 1-The Gunslinger.
Comprised of 5 originally written short stories begun in the 70’s,’The Gunslinger’ was widely released in 1982 with a mass market paperback, followed in 2003 by a revised, updated version introduced by Stephen King.
Part Western, part quest, part sci-fi , part fantasy, ‘The Gunslinger’ is Roland Deschain, last survivor of his family who is chasing Walter O’Dim, the wizard he knows is responsible for killing his family.
Roland is on a literal and physical journey across Mid-World and during the course of his travels, we begin to get a glimpse of what it used to be like, how it has decayed and in what ways it differs from ours. His character is seen as ruthless, determined and stubborn-in the town of Tull his morals are so deeply grounded that he becomes a Samson-esque figure.
In an effort to be spoiler free, all I will say is that many people get put off by the slight, disjointed volume of stories which were never really meant to launch an epic cycle.
Keep going with it-it makes sense by the end of Volume 7. You will be glad that you did .
It works like an encyclopedia with alphabetical entries and I find it very helpful.
Another great resource is ‘The Road to the Dark Tower’ by Bev Vincent which looks at each book in turn-however, there is great temptation to skip ahead ! It is more linear and goes through each book in turn.
Non-useful resources-‘The Dark Tower film’
It makes little to no sense to anyone about to read the books and even to those who have it seems like a mistake-it’s not a bad film but it brings nothing to the table in my humble opinion.
Here are some questions to consider, if you wish:
- What do you think of Roland as he makes his entrance?
- Is he a likeable or sympathetic figure or enigmatic and hard to warm to?
- Does he act with a code of honour towards people like Allie and Jake?
- What do you think of the ending-is it a good one that left you wanting more?
I hope that this has been a tiny but useful roundup for anyone thinking of joining in (plenty of January left to get on board, the book is 238 pages long!)
See you next month for Volume 2-‘The Drawing Of The Three’