Dark Tower #1
The gunslinger Roland Deschain is on a quest to catch up to his quarry, the Man in Black. He has been following the Man in Black for so long, it has become intertwined with his destiny. Roland lives in a world that has moved on, something strange and different. Along the way he encounters a few people, though he never lingers anywhere. The only time he lingers is when he comes into Tull. In Tull he meets with a woman named Allie, whom he starts up a sexual relationship. The Man in Black has passed through the town, raised a man from the dead and set a trap for him. Allie shares bits and pieces of information with Roland about the Man in Black, but ultimately the town rises up at the behest of a local church leader and Roland needs to make a violent and bloody escape.
He soon sets out across the desert where he meets a farmer named Brown and shares his ordeal in Tull with him. Roland feels cathartic after that, and sets out into the desert again. It soon becomes evident that he may die out there. On his absolute last bit, he comes across an ancient way station. There he meets a young boy named Jake Chambers who does not completely seem to be a part of this world. Jake is from a seemingly parallel universe and ended up in Roland’s world after dying on the way to school it would seem. Roland garners this from hypnotizing Jake, a memory he makes him forget due to the violent nature of it. As it appears, anyhow, that Jake is losing touch with the world he is from. He tells Roland of the Man in Black and that he was there recently. The two recover the food that they can from the basement when a demon warns Roland that the boy, too, is a trap. Ignoring the warning, the two set out across the desert.
Roland shares memories from his childhood with Jake, and the two become rather close. The gunslinger knows, however, that this cannot last for good. They start to gain on the Man in Black, and move along swiftly. Finally they make it out of the desert into much nicer terrain, where Roland has to save Jake from a succubus. He learns that the succubus is an oracle, too, and sleeps with her in order to learn more of his journey to the Dark Tower and his fate. Jake, however, is starting to worry about his meaning to Roland, and starting to wonder if he will be thrown away and sacrificed the minute that he might become a liability or necessary to be disposed of. His relationship with the gunslinger becomes stiff. Entering into the twisting tunnels beneath the mountain, Jake and Roland work their way through, though they seem to be there for an age. Nearing the end of it they encounter the Man in Black again, though he wishes to talk, not fight. He has things that he will share with Roland, disturbing truths he was not completely aware of. Jake.
Will Jake become disposable to Roland? Will Roland decide to sacrifice him or protect him? What does the Man in Black want? Will Roland slay him, or is there something that he can learn from the man? What is Jake’s destiny in all that is going down? Will Roland make it to the Dark Tower eventually, now that his business with the Man in Black is almost concluded, or will the Man in Black slip through his fingers once again?
I enjoyed the book though it is definitely not King’s finest piece of literature, I also understand that he wrote this when he was young and overly influenced by other people (which is evident at times, it does not have the same flow and rhythm that is typical of King). I liked the world that he wrought, though it was exceptionally confusing at times. I found this to be exacerbated by the fact that King did not offer up an awful lot of explanations to the world as he moved along. It was annoying at times but no deal breaker, but also helped lend to the mystery that is sprawled across the pages. Roland Deschain’s history, the little bit one can ascertain, was rather interesting, and it was nice to read. I am interested to see where the story leads, and thought that it was an interesting concept that King played with. I believe that there were quite a few changes that came about in the revised edition and went to look at what they were and I think that all the changes contributed very well for what was to come. The tale so far is epic, though as a first novel in a series there were other ways to have fleshed it out and made it more comprehensive. I am just happy to finally have gotten to this as I have been threatening for years to check out the Dark Tower series.
The line that Jake uttered before dropping was amazing. “Go then. There are other worlds than these.” Goosebumps every time I think back on it.