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Subject: The Dark Tower: Thoughts at the end rss

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Michael Pennisi
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Since I was in HS I have enjoyed reading most Steven King books but for whatever reason I never read any of "The Dark Tower Books". Of course when I started HS only one had been written so I wasn’t aware the book would become a saga. Anyway... I finally started reading them back in Jaunary, I just finished "The Dark Tower" last night, and I wanted to throw out some comments.

“The Gunslinger" was slow and left me filled with questions (like why the hell is he questing for the tower?). Roland’s character is interesting but the story didn’t seem to go anywhere. Since so many people like the series I assumed that the books would improve so I kept reading.

" The Drawing of the Three" was a little better. I liked the hopping in-and-out of bodies thing. Eddie and Susanna were not terribly interesting to me. Also I could have lived without the constant "did-a-check" in his writing. I still was not enthralled so I decided that the next book would make-or-break the series for me.

"The Wastelands" was awesome. There was action, King gave more back story on Mid-world, and the characters were given enough depth so that I actually cared about them. Then there’s the ending which hooked me in for good.

"Wizard & Glass" was equally great although a little vulgar sometimes, but hey, it’s Steven King. Even more character development happens with Roland and you start to feel sorry for him. In my head I could see this as being a really interesting movie. The only disappointment was the seemingly pointless return of a character from book 3 who’s only around long enough to die.

"Wolves of the Callah" Great use of the "Magnificent Seven" plot, several plot twists & character development. Callahan’s story seems a bit long-winded but overall this book is very entertaining.

“Song of Susanna" Should not have been published as most of it is filler. The important parts could have been added to the end of Wolves or to the final book. By far it’s the most disappointing book.

"The Dark Tower" Starts with action, most of the story was cool, & I liked how King worked his real life car accident into the plot. Of course the saga had to end but unfortunately & like most of King’s books he ended this badly. I don’t want to throw in any spoilers although it should be obvious that there will be some tragedy. The tragedies are not what bothered me about the book however, it was the completely anti-climactic showdowns with three major villains. Also the introduction of a hugely significant character in the last third of the book was annoying. Surely there was another way to reach the end than by adding "the artist"? The whole thing ended with a whimper, not a bang and that ultimately taints the entire series for me.

Boy am I glad I got to read them all in a row. There were huge time gaps between when some of the books were published and I would not have been happy waiting to see how the cliffhanger endings turned out.

I found out online that JJ Abrams has the film rights for the books and that makes a lot of sense to me since the books remind me a lot of the series "Lost". Not because the stories are identical but because of how both loop around through time and revisit seemingly insignificant details from early on in the story. I do think these books will make great movies if the ending can be tweaked and the story edited to become a bit more linear.

So to sum up: books 3,4, & 5 = awesome enough to make the whole series worth reading, 1,2,7 = meh, 6 = ugh!
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Hmm...

You also need to read Insomnia in particular and the Talisman books, as they are really interesting side tracks into the DT.

I liked the ending. Ka is a wheel

The interesting thing to me is that at the end or the beginning, IIRC there are some differences, no? Doesn't he have the horn of Eld. In other words, he may be damned to repeat this over and over again, but he CAN do things differently.

BTW - you may want to check out the Marvel Dark Tower Series which retells part of book IV I believe then has new content filling Roland's early life.
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Marc P
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fizzix wrote:
Since I was in HS I have enjoyed reading most Steven King books but for whatever reason I never read any of "The Dark Tower Books". Of course when I started HS only one had been written so I wasn’t aware the book would become a saga. Anyway...

He had introduced the Artist back in Insomnia, but I see your point. I totally agree with you that the showdowns in the final book were pretty pathetic. As much as I hated the last book, though, I did think that the last chapter was pretty well done.

My favorite parts of the series were the depiction of Roland in the first book (a desert of a man, lost in the desert), the crazy action scenes in the next few books, the story of Jake that got resolved in the third book, and Roland's and Callahan's back stories in books 4 and 5. The last two books were pretty major disappointments.

I lost all interest in reading Stephen King after I finished the last book. I stuck with him so long, but I started to cringe at his time-worn turns of phrase. I may eventually cave and pick up any short story anthologies or novellas that he publishes, since that's where his greatest gift lies. Night Shift is a really amazing collection.
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fizzix wrote:
Boy am I glad I got to read them all in a row. There were huge time gaps between when some of the books were published and I would not have been happy waiting to see how the cliffhanger endings turned out.

Yeah, the SIX YEARS between the end of The Waste Lands and the start of Wizard and Glass was a strain on those of us who were following the story in real time. I think that's the main reason why the third book is my least favorite.

I liked the ending, since it seemed to bring the story full circle. I thought "The Artist" stuff was self-serving and overdone, but I also can't deny that it worked. It's either brilliant or arrogant, and I'm still not sure how I feel in the end.

My favorite of all of them was Wizard and Glass. It really touched back on the time when King was writing grand stories about people, not hacking together ridiculous plots just to fulfill a contract. I also like that it could (with effort) be read as a standalone book.

Overall, the saga never reached the potential that it could become. What started out as a story of archetypes and mysticism turned into a basic "buddy adventure" of the three main characters. I also resented that EVERY DAMN BOOK that King wrote after The Waste Lands had some connection to The Dark Tower, because after a while it seemed like he had to reach to make that connection.

Lastly, I much preferred the original, more-difficult-to-read version of The Gunslinger, since it didn't include King's revisions. A lot of references raised in Wolves of the Calla were obscure and nonsensical (I'm still not sure what "Nineteen" was all about), and King retconned the original book to also have references to some of them. After-the-fact prophecizing just doesn't cut it with me.

I still enjoy reading him, even when the books wind up being terrible. Lisey's Story was a whole bunch of nothing, making the overall story pretty insubstantial, Dreamcatcher was a hackneyed attempt at an X-Files episode, and Duma Key was a horrible mish-mash of horror cliches disguised as a novel, but DAMN, if I don't stay engaged in the stories all the way through. And "N." from Just After Sunset is an extraordinary story of obsession and madness that is about as good as any Lovecraft story.

He's still got it, it's just sparser than it used to be.
 
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Alan
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Wait a sec. Re The Gunslinger:
Quote:
In 2003 the novel was reissued in a revised and expanded version with modified language and added and changed scenes intended to resolve inconsistencies with the later books in the series.

That's just wrong! Even for King that's wrong. So wrong that it's rotten!

I read the original version - does this mean I need to "re-read" the new version? WTH!???!
 
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I haven't read much of his newer stuff but Insomnia is on my list not that it's actually "newer". The last King book I read was "Cell" which to me was a shorter, less epic version of The Stand.

I wasn't aware that he reworked the Gunslinger to fit what came later. That's not cool.

 
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Alan Stern wrote:
I read the original version - does this mean I need to "re-read" the new version?

No, it's not necessary. When I heard about that, I read them both, back-to-back, just for comparison. The later edition IS a bit easier to read, but it adds a whole bunch of stuff that wasn't really necessary, to me. I mentioned some of it in my previous post, but his manner of creating a mythology from the first book is misleading. He had no idea where all this was going when he started writing the book back in the 1970s, but he seems to want to suggest that he knew all along.
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Michael Pennisi
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Verkisto wrote:

I liked the ending, since it seemed to bring the story full circle. I thought "The Artist" stuff was self-serving and overdone, but I also can't deny that it worked. It's either brilliant or arrogant, and I'm still not sure how I feel in the end.


I was hoping for real showdown with the Red Crimson King possibly with a "palaver" first like the the characters have at end of Kill Bill or at the very least a Western gunfight. Roland almost always gets help from other characters to get past his trials and just once I wanted to see him finish the fight himself.
 
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I just realized that I confused "The Artist" with King putting himself in the story. I had totally forgotten about Roland picking up an additional hitchhiker who helped him with his final battle. It was King's self-referential bit that I thought worked, not "The Artist"; in fact, "The Artist" was as much of a deus ex machina ending as any other that the author has created over the years.
 
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fizzix wrote:
I haven't read much of his newer stuff but Insomnia is on my list not that it's actually "newer". The last King book I read was "Cell" which to me was a shorter, less epic version of The Stand.

I wasn't aware that he reworked the Gunslinger to fit what came later. That's not cool.



In general, I agree. I have the redo but have not read it. One way to look at it, however, is that it is in fact part of the wheel of Ka (i.e., one of Roland's times through the DT). That is my approach to it which makes it somewhat more bearable, and is of course entirely my own rationalization for it.
 
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