The Dark Tower Palaver Part I

1

I finished it.

I’ve seen the tower.

It took a night for the idea to sink in. I lied on my bed, thinking how much time I spent reading that mammoth of a book and finally, finally getting it done with. It felt like the leash around my neck was gone and I could go back getting a life. Thank ya big-big. I enjoyed it as much as I thought of it as a burden.

And because I am so done with it, here’s a review of the first three books (that I should have reviewed long ago but it was only later, after reading the last novel, when I could write something about them). There may be light spoilers. Hear me sai, hear me very well. 

2

The Gunslinger

The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed, shooting people, meeting strange men with strange pets, meeting strange little boys, shooting aliens and fucking demons along the way.

The Gunslinger begins the story of Roland and his journey to the Dark Tower. Wait, no, it’s our first glimpse of Roland and his peculiar world. It’s like tasting the batter of a soon-to-be cake or perhaps seeing the outline of a painting; it’s a work-in-progress, and you could feel King feeling his way throughout the end like a baby learning how to walk.  Roland is in the middle of his journey and the readers could see glimpses of his past and his possible future that King throws to us in little wet splashes. That’s how I could describe it.

The novel is a series of Roland’s solemn adventures. Roland is chasing the man-in-black and along the way, he encounters a bunch of people, shoots some of them, and later on, he meets Jake and we discover some humanity left in the man. The book maintains a grim and quiet rhythm that contrasts King’s other works. In here, we’re learning as much as the author is, touching the world that could be or become and you could sense the awkwardness and uncertainty in it. I found myself rereading this novel a couple of times and thought it was one of King’s best written novels, challenging the Long Walk. It was different, a bit disconnected, but fulfilling in the end. It could be a stand alone novel or one of King’s short stories, but it later branched out into the long march that is the Dark Tower series.

3

Drawing of the Three

Roland drags three sociopaths into his world.

King resumes his voice here, the one where he swears a lot and throws in hundreds of pop-culture references that is foreign language to me. It was a mess in a way the author couldn’t control his characters. It reminded me of Ryōgo Narita’s style, writer of Durarara! and Baccano! (you could already feel the energy surging through those exclamation marks). Narita builds the plot around his characters; lets the characters move around. He writes with a fresh and wild energy that inspired me as a writer, exercising the use of flashbacks and fascinating dialogue and being flexible with story and plot. Durarara! and Baccano! could stand without a story, because the characters are the story.

I also couldn’t stand his light novels. They appealed to me visually. Reading them, it confused and disoriented me. I wasn’t sure what I was reading but one thing about this style is how unpredictable it could be. The same went with the Drawing of the Three. King wrote a book about his new characters and I could never guess what could happen next.

If The Gunslinger was grim and quiet, then the Drawing of the Three is the novel where everything went wild and crazy. As much as Roland is one cool anti-hero, Eddie and Susan are the real driving forces of the novel. Their characterizations heavily reminded me of The Stand but written with sharp energy as if King couldn’t contain them in his head any longer. You could feel the novel shrieking and crying its way forward as much as the characters. Eddie is a junkie and Susan has a split personality and that was what the novel was about. In retrospect, nothing really happened in this novel that pushed Roland closer to the Dark Tower. It was sort of a stop over, where he picked up refreshments and goods to bring with him on his journey.

4

The Wastelands

Roland and the gang face robot bears, paradoxes, riddles and suicidal trains.

The Wastelands is the most enjoying action-adventure fantasy Stephen King has ever written and my favorite among the Dark Tower series. I don’t think I have anything negative to say about this novel and if I have, it would just be lame nitpicking because I really, really had fun with this one. But here’s a review, nonetheless.

The Wastelands follows yet again Roland’s adventures as he travels to the Dark Tower to save their crumbling world. While the emotional whirlwind that is The Drawing of the Three mainly introduces two new characters, The Wastelands explores Roland’s strange world and its ruins. The novel starts slow and perfectly captures the moment; you could almost imagine it as a movie: a mountain, a woman with no legs shooting rocks, a wild bear springing out of nowhere. The Wastelands fixed up the problems the two previous novel had: it was finally going somewhere and events run smoother this time.

We meet more characters in this novel, most of them minor but King paints them with much color as his main characters. His main characters, already well-fleshed out in my opinion, has more surprises to offer. It’s one of the things that I find amazing about King. He gives every major and minor character personality and doesn’t stop pushing them to their limits. It makes his novels rich and dynamic and it feels like you’re living inside these characters skins yourself.

4

And those are the first three DT novels. This post should have been a review of the last novel but I haven’t really made up my mind about it. It has one of those endings which takes days to think about. Even so, the first three novels had been a shaky, unpredictable ride and it gets shakier by the next novels.

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