- Megan Bingham
Stephen King is best known for his terrifying and macabre horror novels. Many of his sadistic stories have grazed the minds of readers over the years. King loves to leave an uncomfortable impact on the psyche of his readers through nightmare-fueled characters such as the evil Pennywise, the Dancing Clown in IT (1980); the vicious vampire Kurt Barlow in 'Salems Lot (1975); and, of course, the dangerously haunted Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1977).
One of his epic, long-lasting creations is The Dark Tower series. Last year, Columbia Pictures announced that it would be releasing a movie based on The Dark Tower, starring Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. To King's fans' dismay (and delight, in some cases), the film will not be an adaptation of first installment, The Gunslinger. Instead, it will be a quasi-sequel to the whole series, following the ending of the last book, The Dark Tower.
In The Gunslinger, the reader meets Roland Deschain of Gilead, who seems to be on an impossible quest. Wandering among the ruins of the Old West Mid-World, Roland seeks the fabled Dark Tower, which is said to be the gate to all universes. Roland is in favor of seeking another world since Mid-World seems to "moved on," with war, famine, and plague. Some cities and towns have completely vanished, while time does not flow like it should. The sun sometimes sets in the East and rises in the West. However memories of our own world exist in Mid-World, including the tune to "Hey Jude," and the children's rhyme, "Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit." Along with the Dark Tower, Roland is also searching for The Man in Black (King fans will also know him as the demonic Randall Flagg from The Stand), a powerful wizard who has subtle connections with the tower and who is a servant of an unknown, more powerful enemy. Roland's pursuit of The Man in Black heats up when he realizes he's not far behind him.
King incorporates multiple genres including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and even Western. The Dark Tower itself appears as both a metaphorical and physical goal to an immense cast of characters. The series also expands King's multiverse and has the same timeline as many of his other novels. As the story marches on, more is revealed about Roland's quest, and others in Mid-World and the real world join him on his journey.
Recently King tweeted a photo of the Horn of Eld with the caption "Last Time Around," which is related to a scene from the end of the final book. Constant readers of the series who have made it through one prequel, eight novels, and 4,250 pages of Roland's quest know exactly what King's ambiguous tweet means. For those who are just beginning, or are thinking about starting the The Dark Tower series, I leave you with this quote from the The Dark Tower:
“The road and the tale have both been long, would you not say so? The trip has been long and the cost has been high. . .but no great thing was ever attained easily. A long tale, like a tall Tower, must be built a stone at a time.”
If you would like to read the series, featured in order...