I’ll call this a review of The Dark Tower series rather than of the book itself. I don’t have too much to say about the latter. The series, though. Yes, indeed.
I read The Gunslinger, the first book in the series, almost two years ago. I really liked it and continued. The Drawing of the Three, I thought, was pretty stupid, and The Waste Lands made me really angry, ending how it did. Then there was Wizard and Glass, which seemed really long. That one took me two attempts, but I was enthusiastic by the end. I really enjoyed Wolves of the Calla and Song of Susannah – I finished both in record time – but both were pretty stupid. Then there’s The Dark Tower, the last one. The whole time, I was expecting to get to the end and want to drive up to Maine and kill Stephen King myself. Palmer finished the series about a year ago and was convinced that I’d hate it. He even came up with funny bedtime stories about the various possible deaths of Mr. Stephenking. In one of them, Roland shows up with a bag for Mr. Stephenking, who opens it like a gift and is covered in Mordred-like spiders who liquify him. Roland then pulls a lobstrosity out of his hat, which slurps up the goo. That’s how much Palmer thought I’d hate the end.
Luckily for Mr. Stephenking, that’s not how it went. (And here’s where I’ll present the obvious spoiler alert.) I thought, for a bit, that my world might end when Roland finally made it to the Tower, and the clank of the closing doors was narrated by some kid, who walked away. The end, he said. Next was an entirely superfluous epilogue in which the ka-tet (minus Roland) was reunited in an alternate reality and lived…ever after. Good for them. I didn’t care. But! Next was a coda, the sight of which made me angry. Really? After all this? So we do, after all, see what happens to Roland in the Dark Tower. He walks up the winding staircase, sees what is to be seen, and then
Brilliant! The end of this series couldn’t have been any better. My faith in Mr. Stephenking was restored, and I spent the next several hours mourning the Dark Tower. Which isn’t exactly over – and that goes for the story and the series, as The Wind through the Keyhole (which takes place, I think, after the story inside Wizard and Glass) appeared in 2012.
I should note that as much as I like the beginning and the end of the series, much of what happens in the middle is really, really stupid. Stephen King shouldn’t have inserted himself into these books because it was entirely unnecessary. There was also too much breath wasted on Roland’s inability to understand and pronounce contemporary words. Fottergraph comes to mind, as does something like tak-see. Ugh. You might also call the lobstrosities stupid, but I’ll argue that they’re the best fictional creatures created ever. Then, of course, there are the vampires, of which there were far, far too many. And Stephen King enjoys bugs too much, I think.
What all that means is that the series, taken as a whole, is magnificent and dumb. With the exception of The Gunslinger, they really aren’t all that good. But they’re addictive, and I enjoyed them immensely, and I will miss them. I’m not sure that I could handle reading the series again with all of the crap in the middle, but the idea is fantastic and amazing and stupendous.
And every time I see a black pepper grinder, I’ll think of the Tower.