Review: The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1)

With the movie coming out and looking very interesting, I wanted to tackle this one. I can hardly count the number of people who have recommended this series and named it their favorite series ever, so I went into it with eagerness and anticipation. 

This is my first Stephen King novel. I’m not a big fan or horror in general, so I’ve stayed clear of his stuff in general, even though most avid readers I know love most of his stuff. Maybe I should have just avoided it. Or maybe I’m missing something. The writing itself is well done. The story could have promise. 


I just didn’t like it.

Here’s my big issue with The Gunslinger: the primary character (protagonist) is so deeply flawed that he’s unrelatable. Unlikeable. I’ve read plenty of “dark” fiction with “grey” characters and that doesn’t generally bother me. In most of those cases, there is some element of redemption that comes into play for the protagonist. Or some aspect of the protagonist’s personality that makes him appealing despite the flaws. There’s reason to home he will get better.

But then there’s the Gunslinger. The man with serious talents who appears throughout the book to simply sacrifice anyone noble in his life to meet his ends. And his nemesis, the Man in Black, who is supposed to be this shadowy figure of evil… but who, now that I’ve just finished reading the book, might actually be the “Good Guy” in this one. But the thing is, the Gunslinger isn’t likable. He doesn’t seem to stand for anything. He seems to be created through an act of vengeance, and rather impulsively. Where is the nobility in his personality or character? He seems to be framed as the good guy by the author, but it isn’t backed up with anything.

Maybe this is the book to read if you’re a murderer and you just want to feel better about yourself by rationalizing that “nobody’s really a good guy anyway, that’s all just in their head.” And I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who like the fact that this seems to be what is portrayed in the book. The ends don’t justify the means. And the quest to find the Dark Tower doesn’t have any meaning. 

So, if you’re reading this review, answer me this: is there reason to keep reading? What have I missed in my “read” of the situation in the book? Is there redemption down the road, or is it just as much a straight march into ruin as it appears to be?

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