I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Roland, The Last Gunslinger, moves ever closer to The Dark Tower of his dreams and nightmares—as he crosses a desert of damnation in a macabre world that is a twisted image of our own. With him are those he has drawn to this world: street-smart Eddie Dean and courageous wheelchair-bound Susannah.
Ahead of him are mind-rending revelations about who and what is driving him. Against him is arrayed a swelling legion of foes—both more and less than human....
The best book in this series so far for me.
I couldn’t help but notice, as I read this book, just how well-read Stephen King is. It would be tedious to list all the literary allusions (plus all the mentions of his own works) because there are just so many of them. But of course, you can’t miss one of the biggest references in the title—T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, not to mention Robert Browning’s Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. I also couldn’t help but notice all of the LOTR similarities—as King wrote in his introduction, Tolkien’s work looms large in the imagination of all of those of us who read fantasy. And Jake, being run by Gasher through the ruined city of River Crossing, made me think of Merry & Pippin being driven by orcs.
Jake’s entry into the Gunslinger’s world, through The Mansion in New York, reminded me strongly of King’s The Shining, namely the pursuit of Danny Torrence on the grounds of the Overlook Hotel by the hedge animals. The malevolent Mansion and the haunted hotel were both very effective—King writes that kind of scenario really well.
Three books in, I’m finally feeling like the story is beginning to interest me. Hopefully the remaining books in the series won’t be quite such a tough row to hoe.
Book number 297 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.