A few thoughts:
First of all, whoa. Say what you like about it, this is one of those series that gets under your skin and into your dreams and leaks into your thoughts.
The Gunslinger is written very differently from the subsequent books. The intro says as much. The first book was pieced together over the years from some vague and random inspirations, building a surrealist universe. The latter six are thought-out and plot-driven. But it’s still jarring when the more developed version of Roland in (IIRC) The Wastelands references the events in Tull.
I am going to have the Dark Tower vocabulary stuck in my head for the next few weeks. Palaver, ka-tet, sai- they keep popping into my head. See first paragraph.
It’s a bit creepy when King inserts himself into the last three novels. (Yes, this is a Stephen King book, but that’s a different creepy). It’s all very well being metafictional about things, but setting himself up as one of the World’s Last Hopes and practically next to God… just felt oogie.
Speaking of oogie, Susannah’s ending in Dark Tower- are the versions of the characters in different worlds the same people? Jake 1 and 2 seem to be more or less the same, with Jake 2 having Jake 1’s memories. In which case, Susannah meeting up with Eddie 2 and Jake 3 is the one happy ending in the whole book. But Eddie 2 is a lot more different from Eddie 1 than the Jakes are to each other. He comes from the midwest, his brother is Jake 3 instead of Henry, and he’s meeting Susannah for the first time. Which, to my mind, means that Susannah is hooking up with her recently dead husband’s sorta twin brother. Ick.
Then again, the text implies that her memory of Mid-World is fading, so maybe she’s not quite the same Susannah either.
Aaaaand, the ending. I can’t really blame Stephen King for this one. There is almost nothing that would satisfy the readers after seven books of wanting to know what’s up there. This is a story that needs to be somewhat open-ended. But, as it actually says in the book, the readers (and editors, I assume) would demand something more than “And Roland finally opened the doors of the Tower. The end.” It was an awful thing to do to his long-suffering gunslinger, but he couldn’t make the top of the Tower the end of Roland’s journey.
That’s my $0.02. I suspect this is the type of series that prompts very intense discussion (re: Your Mileage Is Gonna Really Vary), so I’m going out for a minute to put my flame-proof suit on.