The Gunslinger has been on my to-read list for a while. It came highly recommended from a few of my friends, so I finally broke down and read it. You see, it’s not the kind of book I usually like. You tell me gunslinger, and I say, nope, nope, I don’t like westerns. No westerns for me, thanks. (I think my aversion to westerns is my dad’s fault. He’s read every Louis L’amour book ever written, and he used to read loooooooooong passages at the dinner table. My stepmother and I would feign interest.) Then there’s the Stephen King part. I’m a little ambivalent here. When I was about 12, I read The Tommyknockers and liked it well enough. At some point when I was in high school or college, I read The Shining, which is a legitimately good book. Later, I read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, which is not a good book.
An aside is in order here: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is about a little girl who gets lost in the woods. She has a little radio with her, and she listens to baseball games and is encouraged by her favorite player, Tom Gordon. Something creepy has been following her the whole time, and it gets creepier and creepier. You might think it’s something supernatural. But (spoiler!) it’s not. It’s just a bear. You’ve wasted several hours of your time reading a Stephen King novel, thinking you know what to expect, and in an M. Night Shyamalan-like twist, you get a bear. Seriously, yall. I still want my money back on that one.
Anyway, that should explain my ambivalence toward Stephen King. I do have a little confession to make, though: I love the made-for-TV movies. I even spent last night watching the third episode of The Stand. And then there’s The Langoliers, which I’ve seen dozens of times over the years. I’m embarrassed to say that I even own several of the DVDs. So: TV, yes; books, sometimes. But I digress. Again.
I’ll cut to the chase: Turns out The Gunslinger isn’t a western. Yes, there’s some desert and some good ol’ gunslingin’, but that isn’t the point. It’s a fantasy novel, and I like fantasy. Especially the good vs. evil kind of fantasy that thinks it has higher implications. This series totally fits the bill. I thought I’d be able to stop after the first one, but that’s not gonna happen. I’ve already loaded the second, The Drawing of the Three, onto my Kindle.
I guess a bit of a plot rundown is in order. I’m not giving you much this time. A gunslinger tracks a “man in black” across the desert. He meets a few people on his way, and you get just a piece of the backstory as he progresses. He meets a boy at a way-station and takes him along. Things Happen.
This is the kind of book that you’ll enjoy more if you don’t know anything about it. I had no idea except that it involved a gunslinger, but I’ve already talked about that. The Gunslinger was a very happy surprise. Now, of course, I’m hooked: I’ve already started reading the next book in the series, The Drawing of the Three, and it’s really interesting. In a good way, so far. Once you finish The Gunslinger, you have all kinds of fun to look forward to, including my very favorite creature yet, the lobstrosity. If you can’t find any other reason to read The Dark Tower series, read it for the lobstrosities.
Which reminds me: These novels have pictures!