Reading List: The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

Format: Audible and Paperback

If you are a fan of Stephen King’s work and you have not read The The Dark TowerDark Tower series, I highly recommend getting to them as soon as possible. I’m not sure why I waited so long myself.

I had read the first one ages ago, but I never read the others. I always meant to, but for one reason or another I always went to something else first. Maybe this was just the right time.

I started listening to the audio version the first book, The Gunslinger, and was immediately hooked. I don’t remember feeling that way about it the first time I read it, so I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for them back then – not that I didn’t like it, but it didn’t grab me the way it did this time.

Perhaps Roland’s endless quest for the Man in Black – for meaning, for purpose, to find his self-worth – appeals more to my adult self than my teenage self. As a teenager I didn’t have as good of a grasp on all those things, both good and bad, that can throw life off the course I thought it was on.

I listed to the next six books in quick succession and then read the last, The Wind Through the Keyhole, in paperback as quickly as I could.

I loved the stories and as a writer I found them to be quite liberating. There didn’t seem to be any rules – other than the basic rules of writing. Anything and everything happened in these books. King even includes himself as a character at one point – it’s not often a books gets meta.

Really, I never wanted them to end. I can’t say which is my favorite. To me it’s all one story broken into different interludes in the journey of the characters – Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy.

One thing that struck me was how much had happened since I read The Gunslinger. At the time there were only two books in the series. That one and The Drawing of the Three. I really wished I had continued with the second one at the time, but on the other hand I didn’t have to wait years and years between books.

The third book, The Wastelands, would come out only a few years later in 1991, but then it was a six year wait for Wizard and Glass. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about Wizard and Glass because Jake, Eddie, Susannah, and Oy were only bookends. I wasn’t anxious to leave them behind for a whole book, but once I was into the story of young Roland I was again hooked.

It would be another six years before the next book, Wolves of the Calla, would be released. This is where King inserts himself into the story line. He don’t appear as a character, but he is mentioned and we also run into Father Callahan from Salem’s Lot.

Actually, we run into quite a few familiar characters and places throughout the series, which I loved. King has always been great at adding those connections in his books, but this is where I think it’s the best.

King’s 1999 accident, in which he was hit by a car while walking, took place in between The Wastelands and Wolves of the Calla and it factors in prominently. In fact, it kind of becomes the core of the whole story. So how would things have been different if King had not been hit by that car? Would he have even finished series? Who knows?

I have not yet read any of the Marvel graphic novels based on Dark Tower but I am curious about them. I hope to get to them in the near future. I also haven’t yet read the short story Little Sisters of Eluria.

There has been talk for years about a film adaptation of the books, but I’m not sure that would be a great idea. Adaptations of King’s work have always been hit and miss and this would be a difficult one to get right. Personally, I think it would be way more suited for a premium channel series – more along the lines of <i>Game of Thrones</i>. Then you wouldn’t have to lose all the details that make these stories so great.

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