|Submitted by Anonymous |
(Jun 22, 2013)
I just finished reading the last book in this series, The Dark Tower. Although perhaps \"skimming through\" it would be a better description.
I first read The Gunslinger in the 1980s when it was in its second hardcover edition. I bought it at the University of Maine at Orono bookstore. I was intrigued by the notion of combining the world of the Wild West & gunslingers with a knight\'s quest for a grail-like Tower. Having been an avid Tolkien fan, however, and always having associated \"The Dark Tower\" with the Barad-dur of Sauron, I was a little hesitant of Stephen King\'s \"borrowing\" this concept. (His readers will know that he has \"borrowed\" -- paid tribute to? plagiarized? -- authors such as Richard Adams (Shardik, Watership Down, \"going tharn\", \"The Shining Wire\"), J.R.R. Tolkien (\"an orc, a Balrog of a man\" -- Firestarter), J.K. Rowling (\"Harry Potter, sneetches\")and of course Sir Thomas Mallory AND T.H. White (Mordred -- really???). I later saw that this wasn\'t so -- King\'s Tower represents something very different -- and I enjoyed the first book with its unusual desert setting, bits of horror and fantasy combined. But what happened to the boy Jake upset me. It made Roland seem like an unlikable anti-hero.
It was quite a while before I read the second through sixth books in the series. I almost gave up on Wizard and Glass, until I reached the story of Susan Delgado -- probably the best story-within-a-story King has written. It actually made me look forward to the subsequent books.
But I felt the subsequent three -- Wolves of the Calla, Song of Susannah, and The Dark Tower -- were not well-written and I fairly slogged my way through them. Here are my main criticisms:
1. Too many uninteresting subplots and subcharacters -- particularly in the last book, which wastes a good third or more of its almost 1000 pages on such.
2. Too long! Except for The Gunslinger, each subsequent volume has become longer -- and LONGER -- to the point where, as the author himself mentioned, his books make \"excellent doorstops\".
3. Too much -- far, FAR too much -- of the ridiculous other-worldly language (do ya ken?) that seemed to make its presence annoting in Wolves of the Calla (cry your pardon, sai, dinh, ka-tet,devar-toi, but became almost unbearable by The Dark Tower. (Can you say Chussit?)
4. Too many occasions when Odetta Holmes became Detta Walker, then Mia, then back again. This made for exhaustive reading after a while.
5. The disposition of the central supporting characters in the final book. After all these characters went through -- Eddie, Susannah, Jake, and Oy -- to meet their ends as they did was, I thought, a real cheat for readers. Even the final appearance of Randall Flagg ended rather ludicrously -- was this supposed to be the uber-villain of The Stand? More like a pale copy.
6. The final encounter with the Crimson King. (Spoiler alert!) A nutty old man throwing sneetches? THIS is the great evil character everyone has feared since his first mention? Puh-leeze. Old CK was nothing, in the end -- NOTHING! And as for what Roland finally discovers at the top of the Tower -- this plot device has been used before by Rod Serling (in Judgement Night) and in Batman, among others/
7. And last but not least -- the HUBRIS of Stephen King putting himself (!) into not one but at least TWO of his books as a character! He calls it \"metafiction\": I call it bad writing. Yes, the incident of being hit by the vehicle was indeed traumatic for him, but to recast it within his story as he did -- and with a consequence that truly disappointed me -- was just a bit too much.
I\'m truly sorry to have to say these things. There was a time when King was one of my favorite authors; and his earlier books -- The Shining, The Stand (Original version, please!), The Dead Zone, and Salem\'s Lot -- show much more precision of thought and economy of words than The Dark Tower series. In the end, I pity the Gunslinger: for the end of this series was not a hit, but a critical misfire.