The Gunslinger, by Stephen King

March 6, 2011 at 22:55 (Book Reviews, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Mediocre Books)


What can be unequivocally said about this book? Iconic, yes. Emblematic. Memorable. The opening punch hits even the wary reader right between the eyes and sets up a legendary chase: the gunslinger and the man in black, and of course the eponymous black tower. That is unfortunately about as far as things go. Oh, there is a story, and Stephen King does extremely well at dripping a slow ooze of information out for his readers. He sets a marathon pace, which unfortunately means the most exposition we expect and receive in this book does not come until the very end. We are curious about this gunslinger’s mysterious past, and he satisfies our curiosity gradually, with a few excellently paced flashbacks. The eternal champion needs a companion, and so we have a boy who listens well and breaks up those monologues.

But the whole reason for the book is evident as soon as one even looks at it. Man-with-no-name, black tower, post-apocalyptic. Got it. Everything else is simply sugar to sustain the reader along the way, and all the X-Files Old West towns and creepy oracles can’t persuade otherwise. The sudden deluge of information poured over the story at the end feels very disjointed and out of place in such a vague story, but also offers hope that the other books in the series are actually going to lead somewhere. Hopefully they do. For The Gunslinger, however, we are hardly left with an exciting story or a memorable adventure. Just a really intriguing and interesting – and yes, iconic and emblematic! – image. King promises, but unfortunately does not deliver.



  1. David said,

    I suppose that’s about as much as I expect from the first tome of such a long series. I’ve been interested in it for some time, but haven’t picked it up yet. The basic premise of gunslinger + high fantasy + horror is almost unfairly awesome, and I remember how I had thought of such a story on my own shortly before hearing that King had written his epic series. But a long series should have a complete beginning story, I think. Too bad this doesn’t quite pass muster. I still might try it out sometime, but not until I have more time on my hands.

  2. J. Holsworth Stevenson said,

    My opinion of Stephen King went up a little when I heard that his intention in writing this book (and series) was “to write the longest fictional story in the English language.” With that sort of outlook, yes; this was always going to be the title page and introduction. But you’re absolutely right. It needed something else.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: