I've finished Stephen King's "Dark Tower" books (big questions, big spoilers)

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.

Dammit, you’re about a month or two early for me - I’m just about to start the fifth book. :mad: The first four were awesome - just awesome. Talk about your magnum opus.

Erm, I did say there would be big spoilers…

Quick! A bottle of Liquid Amnesia [sup]TM[/sup] for Cat Whisperer!

Ever read Umney’s Last Case? Maybe he thinks that in an alternative univese the charectors are actually there!

King has said more than once that with some of his stories, they demand that he write them, that the characters themselves are controlling him in some way, and even that he doesn’t really control where the story goes when it’s really rolling along and using him as a conduit. It’s not really ego there, it seems to me to be more of an attempt to explain his importance to Roland, as well as Roland’s power over King, the writer.

There’s a pretty early story of his where the writer has a fight with a character in his story, and there’s another where what a guy writes on his computer (back when they were new-fangled gadgets) came true. He’s also had writers as characters, so many in fact that there is a list of fictional books that his characters have written. The writer as creator or conduit is a relatively common conceit in literature. I might be more surprised if a writer never explored the idea in any way.

The simplest answer with the ending is that King actually can’t think of a way to end it that would satisfy anyone. Probably least of all himself. It would probably take either a transcendental experience, or more self-knowledge than most people have to get something that would work. I personally think that he shouldn’t have even tried, that the story should have ended with Roland entering and climbing. Yes, it would have pissed some people off, but it would have been less lame. He has a problem with endings sometimes, writing beyond the natural end of a story and into the realm of his own ignorance.

Prepare to be disappointed. The last three books are as forced, plodding and tedious as the first four were creative, inspired and intriguing.

They aren’t bad books, really, but it’s like reading Insomnia after The Stand.

My ZIP code is for Blaine.

Blaine is a pain.

It’s been a long time since I read the early books in the series, but I recall liking the very first one, hating the ones that immediately followed (the section with Blaine the talking train and the stupid-riddle-as-cliffhanger being among the worst, and the “calling of the three” was pretty awful). Just as I was about to give up on the franchise, there was the little “flashback” section in which Roland’s girlfriend gets done in by the witch while he is away (charyou tree). THAT was so well-written it was hard to believe it was by the same author. I wondered if, like the first book itself, the charyou tree section was something he’d written eons ago and woven into the later book.

Unlike Discipline, I found the later books to be better than the early ones, in general.

You have forgotten the face of your father :smiley:

I think I am one of the few who agree with King that the series couldn’t have ended any other way as far as Roland is concerned.

When I first finished the series I wasn’t quite sure but after a little bit I realized that Roland’s quest wasn’t about the tower, but about himself. He started out a driven man who used others only to reach the goal of the Tower (sacrificing Jake) but as the story moved on he became more caring to his ka-tet and other people as well. When Roland first encountered Eddie, his main concern was how he was going to use this broken man to further his quest. Towards the end he loved Eddie, Susanna and Jake.

I think that the end of Roland’s quest isn’t really the tower but entering the tower as a good, pure man*.

On a side note, I just found this quote on wikipedia:

Yay! More Dark Tower books.

Slee

*Of course, I could be totally wrong.

Really? Cause I recently read The Gunslinger, found it unfocused and pointless, and decided to give the rest of the series a miss. Should I re-think that?

Yes, the other six are much more straight-foward novels.

At least we agree on this. Wizard and Glass is easily the best of the series.

I really liked The Gunslinger when I read it back in the 80’s. I followed along and enjoyed the next couple when they came out. Then there was that huge gap and I kept reading when the last books started coming out. Much like the mythical Highlander II movie the last books really made me like the story less and less. I thought the whole tying every single story he ever wrote together to make this seem like some huge epic story and placing himself in there as some kind of god-like lynchpin really distracted from the whole for me. I have also heard in other places that King is pretty good at setting up a story and getting it moving but really isn’t that good at finishing it. I’d have to agree with that and I think it shows in The Dark Tower.

There were parts, mostly early on, that I really loved in The Dark Tower series but overall the later bits really drag it down. For Me.

The thing that I probably disliked the most was the finish, when Roland finally made it to the Tower. I’ve got an idea Mr. King, how about not slapping the readers that followed along on this decades long ride in the face. You are a popular enough writer that a publishing company isn’t going to turn you down because they think the story needs to end a certain way but you went in a different one. Pick the ending you think the story needs and go with it. That whole “hey this is where the story should end but there are a bunch of meanies that are telling me I have write more or some widdle peoples feewings are going to be hurt” bit was BULLSHIT. Then to follow it up with Roland going in and then realizing it was all a dream. Please JR, tell us it’s not true. (I realize it was a reset and not a dream but it has the same effect.)

I can’t think of any other ending that made me angrier about investing my time in something before or since. (Including the Star Wars prequels) So um… thanks. It was totally worth it.

Sorry to sound so bitter but you spend decades invested in a story to have it wrapped up in shit like that and let me know how you feel.

I did like Wizard and Glass. It’s one that I re-read without needing to go into reading the rest of the series.

King told you not to follow Roland inside the Tower.

I actually liked that part, because I read it as coming from the Stephen King character in the book, who isn’t so much writing the story as transcribing it. Like he finally got done writing it and when he realized what he wrote he threw in that little message.

No worries - one of my best features is my ability to forget book and movie plots. :slight_smile:

Stephen King is just so fucking condescending in that bit near the end. I really did not mind the ending - it was kind of a cop out, but at the same time I felt like it really couldn’t have ended any other way - but his whole attitude of “you ignorant masses and your need for endings, I’ll toss you a bone, even though as a true artist it pains me to do so” really annoyed the hell out of me. I would have rather he just ended it with Roland entering the tower if he was going to be so pissy about it.

I forgot to add to the OP- Eddie defeating Blaine was the most awesomest bit in the whole series, IMO. I think I actually cheered outloud when I was reading it.