The Gunslinger was an unique experience. I loved this book for its narrative brilliance, oddly intriguing characters, and its dark outlook on our future-world (which, save for all the magic, is a perfect possibility!).
This was my first western — my only prior experience in the genre being the cowboy movies.
The setting is terrific. Stephen King paints a vivid picture of a world long dead (a world that has moved on, as the protagonist would say).
King being King takes us to a dark world and makes us the live the horror and tension as lived by the protagonist and other major characters.
Meet Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger. The last gunslinger, to be precise. A lone adventurer, who leaves death in his wake. And he is in pursuit of the Man in Black.
Meet Man in Black, whose purpose, or even existence, is unclear. He creeps up every fucking place he visits — whether with his “magic” tricks or by his appearance.
Meet Jake, a boy who is alive — but not quite. Maybe he’s somewhere in between, we really can’t tell. He is the only one of the “earlier” world. He accompanies the Gunslinger in his hunt for the Man in Black and it is often through Jake’s eyes that we get the glimpses of how much darker the world has turned.
The world itself is a big puzzle. And all the answers lie in a Tower somewhere far away. That’s what the Gunslinger (really?) seeks. The Dark Tower.
The hook is established from the very first page, with the very first line, where King writes:
“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”
What is this world? Ours? Post-apocalyptic? Some near future? Post global-warming? What happened here?
Who is the Gunslinger? What the fuck does he want? Is he insane? Is he of the earlier world? Why is he so desperate to find the Man in Black and the Dark Tower?
Who is the Man in Black? Devil? Devil’s apprentice? Just a random bad guy?
King makes us hungrier and hungrier with each turn of page and before we even know it we are at the end of the book and now are in a severe need of going out to buy the second fucking book.
If you love fantasies with a dark setting and quirky characters, this book is for you.
However, being only the first book in the series, the story itself may not leave you satisfied.
Three stars for the narration, worldbuilding, and the characters. One more star for delivering the experience unlike any other book I’ve read so far.