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The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The Gunslinger (1982)

by Stephen King

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Dark Tower (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
15,497347118 (3.86)1 / 301
  1. 71
    The Dark Tower, Books 1-3: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, and The Waste Lands by Stephen King (Valjeanne)
    Valjeanne: While The Gunslinger Book 1 is not one of my favorite books by Stephen King, one should read it to provide the backdrop to the sequels. The Drawing of the Three (especially) and The Waste Lands are much more engaging and two of King's most brilliant novels.… (more)
  2. 41
    Insomnia by Stephen King (sturlington)
    sturlington: Insomnia introduces the Crimson King, the big baddie from The Dark Tower series.
  3. 20
    Wizard And Glass by Stephen King (Morteana)
  4. 10
    The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree by S. A. Hunt (emren)
    emren: Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree is a love letter to the Dark Tower series. Now read the original!
  5. 10
    A Book of Tongues by Gemma Files (Anonymous user)
  6. 12
    Hyperion by Dan Simmons (Scottneumann)

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English (328)  Dutch (5)  Spanish (3)  Danish (2)  Italian (2)  French (2)  German (1)  All (1)  Swedish (1)  All (345)
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
This book has been on my to read list for a very long time. I went and saw the movie version and figured it was time to give the book a shot. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Watching the movie gave me a basis to imagine the setting and the gunslinger himself. The book was way more metaphysical than I had anticipated. Will definitely be reading the rest of the series. ( )
  Verkruissen | Sep 15, 2017 |
Multiple librarians (friends, classmates, and co-workers) have recommended this book, but I was not wowed. The build up was very slow and the payoff was intriguing but vague. ( )
  Bodagirl | Sep 13, 2017 |
I have started this series so many times and never got around to finishing it. Not because it isn't interesting but just life in general getting in the way of my reading. Hoping to finally get through it this time!!
This is a great world building book. I am ready for book 2! ( )
  LenaR0307 | Sep 3, 2017 |
So..., I wrote a whole long post (about 1800 words) about rereading The Gunslinger with memories and spoilery bits and other stuff, which I don't know that I should cross post in its entirety here. So here's the short version:

The Gunslinger is the only book in The Dark Tower series that I still own. It's the original copy I read in the '90s, with . So, even picking the physical book up again, with its black and purple cover, brought a feeling of nostalgia as I flipped through and rediscovered pencil underlines and pages folded over to marking certain places in the story.

I opened the book. "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed" — and I followed with him. The gunslinger Roland Deschain is tenacious in his plodding through the desert, facing the cruel traps the man in black leaves behind. In the lonely hours, he memories comes back to him of his youth and the bodies he has left in his own wake. He almost no one in the desert, just a near-crazy man and Jake, a lost young boy from another world who joins Roland in his pursuit.

Roland is described as not having much imagination, not being particularly clever, but he is graceful in the wielding of his guns, skilled in the art of killing. It is the steady, unwavering way in which he pursues his goal — even when he doesn't fully understand his goal or what it will mean, even when that pursuit damages himself or the people around him — that enables him to succeed. As a mixture of knight errant and western cowboy, Roland is a character that still appeals to me after all these years. He's is flawed and determined, holding true to his oaths and willing to sacrifice the things and people he loves to achieve his goals. And we learn how he came to be this person in the flashback to his youth, which are no less filled with violence and blood.

King has created an interesting world for Roland to have grown up in, a world winding down, falling apart bit by bit. As with the character Roland himself, the society feels like a mix of camelot and the dusty western frontier and apocalypse. It feels like an olden days world, with magic and archaic technology, and yet, Roland refers to an even older society that had once been more technically advanced — a world very much like ours, perhaps, a world that left behind its memory in the form of classical music, like "Hey Jude." The reader is left wondering if Roland actually exists in our own future, that is, until they learn that his world is just one of many.

It was in this world building that made the act of reading The Gunslinger again feel as though I were looking back onto a younger self. I had loved this world that King created. Although I still like the concept of this world with the way it merges cultural references, reading it again, I see how the pieces don't fit as neatly together as I remembered, the seams showing. The mentions of pop culture were probably the most jarring for me, shoving me out of the story momentarily while I absorbed the information. It took many pages for me to get used to it, even on a reread. ( )
  andreablythe | Aug 25, 2017 |
I read (re-read) the revised and expanded version. I remember reading this when it was first published in 1982 and I hungered for more immediately. It's a bit less dark now then it was then with some of the added context on Roland's life. Still a great start to a great series. ( )
  LisaMorr | Aug 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a leaf, a stone, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.
Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb, we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.
Which of us has known his brother? Which of us has looked into his father's heart? Which of us has not remained forever prison-pent? Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?

...O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.
--Thomas Wolfe Look Homeward, Angel
To Ed Ferman, who took a chance on these stories, one by one.
First words
The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The story centers upon Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger who has been chasing after his adversary, "the man in black", for many years. The novel follows Roland's trek through a vast desert and beyond in search of the man in black. Roland meets several people along his journey, including a boy named Jake Chambers who travels with him part of the way.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0452284694, Paperback)

Thirty-three years, a horrific and life-altering accident, and thousands of desperately rabid fans in the making, Stephen King's quest to complete his magnum opus rivals the quest of Roland and his band of gunslingers who inhabit the Dark Tower series. Loyal DT fans and new readers alike will appreciate this revised edition of The Gunslinger, which breathes new life into Roland of Gilead, and offers readers a "clearer start and slightly easier entry into Roland's world."

King writes both a new introduction and foreword to this revised edition, and the ever-patient, ever-loyal "constant reader" is rewarded with secrets to the series's inception. That a "magic" ream of green paper and a Robert Browning poem, came together to reveal to King his "ka" is no real surprise (this is King after all), but who would have thought that the squinty-eyed trio of Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach would set the author on his true path to the Tower? While King credits Tolkien for inspiring the "quest and magic" that pervades the series, it was Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that helped create the epic proportions and "almost absurdly majestic western backdrop" of Roland's world.

To King, The Gunslinger demanded revision because once the series was complete it became obvious that "the beginning was out of sync with the ending." While the revision adds only 35 pages, Dark Tower purists will notice the changes to Allie's fate and Roland's interaction with Cort, Jake, and the Man in Black--all stellar scenes that will reignite the hunger for the rest of the series. Newcomers will appreciate the details and insight into Roland's life. The revised Roland of Gilead (nee Deschain) is embodied with more humanity--he loves, he pities, he regrets. What DT fans might miss is the same ambiguity and mystery of the original that gave the original its pulpy underground feel (back when King himself awaited word from Roland's world). --Daphne Durham

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:42 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

First portion of an epic story of a fantastic world of good versus evil in which the hero, The Gunslinger, pursues The Man in Black.

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