Annabel's House of Books

Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

I reached the Dark Tower!

Stephen King’s Dark Tower Saga

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It’s been a long time a-coming, but I have finally reached the end of Stephen King’s epic fantasy series The Dark Tower.

I began reading the books back in May 2011 in a readalong with Teresa and Jenny at ShelfLove.  It was to have been a monthly readalong, but I only managed the first four then, adding the next two at roughly six monthly intervals, and the last after just a couple of months.

That totals 4111 pages of sometimes very small print, and I’ve loved it, and what is clear from Stephen King’s notes that accompany the volumes, so did he.

He wrote the seven books over a period of 34 years, starting in 1970; turning out the first four steadily through the years up to 1997, then the final three in a splurge over two years ending in 2004.

This epic saga is truly genre-bending. Starting off very much a Western, before descending into SF and Horror with monsters aplenty, but also containing elements of high and dark fantasy and, most surprisingly, the Arthurian chivalry of medieval knights – although when you find out that King’s inspiration was Robert Browning’s poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, it makes sense – the poem is included in volume VII as an appendix.

As it’s a complex saga you have to begin at the beginning. Here are the links to my posts on the previous six volumes, so you can start at the appropriate point for you.  Although I’ve finished the main series, I now have a new volume to read – The Wind Through the Keyhole, published in 2012, sits between Vols 4 & 5.

Now for what I thought of the last book …

The Dark Tower: Dark Tower Bk. VII by Stephen King

dark-towerThe final volume is where it gets really personal. Stephen King fans will know that the author was almost killed by an out of control driver whilst out walking near his home back in 1999.

In Song of Susannah, King introduced himself as a character and Eddie and Roland went through a door to visit him to get him to help them. In The Dark Tower, they realise that he hasn’t done what he was meant to, and that the end of their story may not get to be written, so Roland and Jake go back…

He (Jake) opened his eyes. ‘The writer? King? Why are you mad at him?’
Roland sighed and cast away the smoldering butt of his cigarette; Jake had already finished with his. ‘Because we have two jobs to do where we should have only one. Having to do the second one is sai King’s fault. He knew what he was supposed to do, and I think on some level he knew that doing it would keep him safe. But he was afraid. He was tired.’ Roland’s upper lip curled. ‘Now his irons are in the fire, and we have to pull them out. It’s going to cost us, and probably a-dearly.’

Jake and Roland have to stop King being killed in a potentially fatal car accident.  It appears to happen exactly as it did in real life, except that Jake and Roland are present.  Even the guy driving the car with the distracting dog has the same name as the real driver of the car that nearly killed King.  King’s treatment of himself is again, largely uncomplimentary.

I’m not going to expound on the plot except to say that it ties up many ends, brings in even more references to King’s other works, and is full of drama in Roland’s relentless quest.

As to Roland – Does he ever reach the top of the Dark Tower?
I can’t tell you, but I certainly didn’t predict the ending!  (8.5/10)

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Source: Own copy. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
The Dark Tower: Dark Tower Bk. VII by Stephen King, Hodder Paperback 736 pages.
The Dark Tower Book I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

8 Comments

  1. I confess I’m no King fan, but my Eldest Child is and has read the whole saga and a whole lot more! It sounds complex and involving…..

    • Reading this series was the first King I’d read for decades – then I read his horror books. It’s made me keen to revisit some of his classic horror – particularly Salem’s Lot which has characters that got brought into the Dark Tower.

      The Dark Tower plot was indeed very complex, but the character of Roland, and then Jake his adoptive son in particular are so wonderful, you do really want to follow them.

  2. Well done for finishing! It gets harder to complete long series now especially when there are so many other books to read but you get such a sense of accomplishment. I can’t wait to start reading this and hopefully I will get to it this year!

    • You hit the nail on the head Sakura – reading a long series does require commitment, and not reading all those other books that are calling to you like sirens … :)

  3. Hooray! So glad you finished and enjoyed the series.

    So what did you think of the ending itself? It was controversial when the book came out, but I loved it. It seemed just perfect to me.

    • I loved that he offered a chance to stop reading with Susannah and co before the end (that made me laugh). I’m sure the ending was controversial – I loved it and laughed even more!

  4. I thought Wolves of the Calla is the best book in the series. The Dark Tower saga is a great achievement for King.

    Do you think this series is better than King’s other famous books like The Shinning and Salem’s Lot?

    • Hi, My personal favourite was Wizard and Glass – I loved Roland’s back story. Wolves comes close though particularly for its guns for hire Western theme, and the introduction of Pere Callaghan.

      Sadly, it is too long since I read any of King’s horror novels – something I plan to remedy, so I can’t say if I prefer them to the Dark Tower. It is fair to say that the Dark Tower sequence is King’s magnum opus and ultimately his most personal work, so I would expect I’ll find his other novels rather less epic on re-reading (but still hugely enjoyable).

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