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Stephen King's The Gunslinger reviewed by jseger9000

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1jseger9000
Nov 15, 2010, 1:32pm Top

Here's my review for The Gunslinger, the first of the Dark Tower books. I wound up liking the book more this time than I did my previous time. Not sure if this is a result of my maturity or his revisions or both. (Maybe I'll add that to the review.)

Regardless, I'm still not wild about the book.
---
As much as I love Stephen King's books (and I do) I've just never grooved on that Jupiter in his Solar system, the series of books that make up The Dark Tower.

I'd read the first book, The Gunslinger, years ago and did not have good memories of it. For my re-read I decided to pick up the revised edition King put out in 2003. Well, I don't remember enough of my previous read to tell you what is different, but going into the first of the five connected stories that make up the book was not a happy time.

The first sentence: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed” is one of the most memorable opening lines I’ve ever read. It’s also the best thing that first story has. I liked the setting (a sort of post-apocalyptic take on the Spaghetti West), but unlike almost everything else King has written, I never felt connected to it. The gunslinger had no character and the tale wasn't especially interesting.

After the rocky start, each story got better and the overarching storyline got more interesting. We follow the gunslinger as he tracks the man in black. His reasons for tracking this man are (mostly) spelled out over the course of the novel, mainly through flashbacks to their previous life in Gilead, a sort of fantasy kingdom with cowboys in the place of knights. All is not well in Gilead. Revolution has started at the borderlands and is moving ever closer to the heart of the kingdom. I found I was more interested to the flashbacks to the kingdom of Gilead than I was in the gunslinger's pursuit of the man in black.

I think part of my problem with The Dark Tower is my general dislike for dark fantasy. And my issue with this book in particular is that it feels too stripped down. I know a number of people say they prefer the earlier, leaner King. I'm learning that I definitely prefer his later, denser 'word tapestries'.

The Gunslinger may be lean and mean, but it's also missing a lot of what I like about Stephen King.

2readafew
Nov 15, 2010, 2:08pm Top

Interesting, the gunslinger books are the only King books I've put on my wishlist, mostly because I've read the graphic novels starting with The Dark Tower: Gunslinger born which are supposed to fill in the back story. I won't say I enjoyed them since they are very dark, but I do like them.

as far as the review, nothing jumps out at me right now, I'll try to read it again later see if anything pops up later.

3jseger9000
Nov 15, 2010, 8:02pm Top

You may well LOVE the Dark Tower books. Lots of people do. Just in general, dark fantasy isn't my kind of thing.

But even a lot of Dark Tower fans (including Stephen King himself in one of his newer introductions) will tell you that The Gunslinger is something you just need to get through. The second book is where things really get going.

4reading_fox
Nov 16, 2010, 4:36am Top

Seems fine to me as a review - although maybe you could explain about the "five connected stories" I didn't think Gunslinger was a collection of short stories but its been a long time since I read them. I do remember that Gunslinger was my favourite of the series, they go downhill from there onwards until the Dark Tower with its appalling ending which reaches new lows.

5jseger9000
Nov 16, 2010, 4:34pm Top

Each of the 'chapters' in The Gunslinger (The Gunslinger, The Way Station, The Oracle in the Mountains, The Slow Mutants and The Man in Black) was originally published as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

The introduction reads: "To Ed Ferman, who took a chance on these stories, one by one."

I could add that into the review. I'll do it when I get home.

6VivienneR
Nov 16, 2010, 8:17pm Top

Good review. You have given the necessary information to someone who wants to find out about the book. It's intriguing, not off-putting. If the potential reader likes dark fantasy, this could be just what they are looking for.

7jseger9000
Edited: Nov 16, 2010, 11:15pm Top

Okay, I slightly revised the second paragraph. Really, I just added my sentence from the first post about enjoying the book more this time. I also added a bit about the stories originally appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Is it any improvement? Does it make the second paragraph too long?

Also, I was thinking of taking the first sentence from the second paragraph and moving it to the end of the first paragraph. How would that be?
---
As much as I love Stephen King's books (and I do) I've just never grooved on that Jupiter in his Solar system, the series of books that make up The Dark Tower.

I'd read the first book, The Gunslinger, years ago and did not have good memories of it. For my re-read I decided to pick up the revised edition King put out in 2003. I wound up liking the book more this time than I did my previous time. Not sure if this is a result of my maturity or his revisions or both. I don't remember enough of my previous read to tell you what is different, but going into the first of the five connected stories that make up the book (each of which was originally published as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) was not a happy time.

The first sentence: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed” is one of the most memorable opening lines I’ve ever read. It’s also the best thing that first story has. I liked the setting (a sort of post-apocalyptic take on the Spaghetti West), but unlike almost everything else King has written, I never felt connected to it. The gunslinger had no character and the tale wasn't especially interesting.

After the rocky start, each story got better and the overarching storyline got more interesting. We follow the gunslinger as he tracks the man in black. His reasons for tracking this man are (mostly) spelled out over the course of the novel, mainly through flashbacks to their previous life in Gilead, a sort of fantasy kingdom with cowboys in the place of knights. All is not well in Gilead. Revolution has started at the borderlands and is moving ever closer to the heart of the kingdom. I found I was more interested to the flashbacks to the kingdom of Gilead than I was in the gunslinger's pursuit of the man in black.

I think part of my problem with The Dark Tower is my general dislike for dark fantasy. And my issue with this book in particular is that it feels too stripped down. I know a number of people say they prefer the earlier, leaner King. I'm learning that I definitely prefer his later, denser 'word tapestries'.

The Gunslinger may be lean and mean, but it's also missing a lot of what I like about Stephen King.

8VivienneR
Nov 16, 2010, 11:38pm Top

That's a big improvement, it reads much smoother. And you're right, the first sentence of the second para is more in keeping with the first paragraph.

9jseger9000
Nov 16, 2010, 11:52pm Top

Like this?
---
As much as I love Stephen King's books (and I do) I've just never grooved on that Jupiter in his Solar system, the series of books that make up The Dark Tower. I'd read the first book, The Gunslinger, years ago and did not have good memories of it.

For my re-read I decided to pick up the revised edition King put out in 2003. I wound up liking the book more this time than I did my previous time. Not sure if this is a result of my maturity or his revisions or both. I don't remember enough of my previous read to tell you what is different, but going into the first of the five connected stories that make up the book (each of which was originally published as a short story in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) was not a happy time.

The first sentence: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed” is one of the most memorable opening lines I’ve ever read. It’s also the best thing that first story has. I liked the setting (a sort of post-apocalyptic take on the Spaghetti West), but unlike almost everything else King has written, I never felt connected to it. The gunslinger had no character and the tale wasn't especially interesting.

After the rocky start, each story got better and the overarching storyline got more interesting. We follow the gunslinger as he tracks the man in black. His reasons for tracking this man are (mostly) spelled out over the course of the novel, mainly through flashbacks to their previous life in Gilead, a sort of fantasy kingdom with cowboys in the place of knights. All is not well in Gilead. Revolution has started at the borderlands and is moving ever closer to the heart of the kingdom. I found I was more interested to the flashbacks to the kingdom of Gilead than I was in the gunslinger's pursuit of the man in black.

I think part of my problem with The Dark Tower is my general dislike for dark fantasy. And my issue with this book in particular is that it feels too stripped down. I know a number of people say they prefer the earlier, leaner King. I'm learning that I definitely prefer his later, denser 'word tapestries'.

The Gunslinger may be lean and mean, but it's also missing a lot of what I like about Stephen King.

10VivienneR
Nov 16, 2010, 11:59pm Top

Yes, very smooth.

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