Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Dark Tower & Other Musings

Like many readers, I find that there are some books, more than others, that leave a part of me within the pages when I am finished reading. This has never been more true than with Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. Now, to be honest, not every book in this series has the same effect on me, but the series as a whole is utterly spellbinding and a true work of writing craft. 

I have an old copy of The Gunslinger I purchased in the second hand book shop here in town. It's the one with the pictures tucked between the pages because the first book is quite short and I'm sure they wanted to give the reader a little something extra for the price. Most King fans are aware of the first line of this saga, "The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed." This is just the start to many memorable lines that litter their way through the pages. But why am I enamored with this story? It's not a pretty story, to be certain. It's not full of princes and princesses and white knights who save the day. As a matter of fact it's a tale of darkness and the decay of all the worlds in this universe. But I love it. 

I'll be honest. I hated Roland Deschain when the story began. Probably, I hated him through most of it. He's designed that way; to be unlikable. He has an unwavering dedication and a loyalty to his quest, and everything and everyone in his path suffers because of it. This "hero" of the story is stained in blood and death because his heart, his mind, is set on reaching the tower. The characters are good, but the story is the best part of this tale.

This series is apocalyptic in a time when no one realizes what has happened to their world, only that it has slowed worsened, a disease that has infested the ground, the sky and time. Roland is moved forward in time *I won't spoil how* and awakens to find that his world, Mid-World, has passed another century or two while he slept. What was decaying is now full of rot, and still Roland continues on. Of course there is the meeting of the boy Jake, who died and woke up in Roland's world. The drawing of Eddie Dean and Odetta/Detta Walker. Those things happen but it's the truth of what fate awaits the universe that really makes this story shine. 

The Tower. At the center of all reality stands a tall black tower surrounded by a field of roses. Trapped at the top of this tower is the evil Crimson King. He is darkness to God's light, I suppose. His minion, Walter, is the man in black. The Crimson King's purpose is to stop Roland from reaching the tower, because the prophecy states that Roland can destroy the King and save the universe from his growing darkness. Spread out from the tower were many beams of energy, and at the end of each beam lay a world. A different reality. Many beams have broken now, due to the influence of the King and his minions, and only a few remain. Among them are Roland's Mid-World, though it is dying because of the damage to its beam, and Key Stone Earth, the place where the author lives.

There's too much to go into with this story, but it's a rich world with depth and imagination to spare. There are some things I don't like about the story, and others I know must happen the way they happen because otherwise the story wouldn't flow the way it's supposed to. There are references to another world where Arthur of Camelot had descendants who upheld the virtues of "The White", and where gunslingers protected the people and the land when swords would no longer do. Whenever I'm in need of a reminder of what it's like to open a book and fall into another world I'll pick up The Gunslinger and read those fateful words, "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

Many readers will tell you that the ending of this saga was not what they wanted, and that's true. It's definitely indefinite, and that's the way it should be. Not because we deserve an ending for reading all the way through, but because this is a tale that cannot be ended until every detail is right. If you like fantasy, post-apocalyptic tales of woe, stories of friendship and bonds despite personality flaw, then this tale is for you. 


Other Musings

I wanted to take a moment after chatting about The Dark Tower series to talk about my next book. I'm working on book 2 of the Shadowlyte Shifters Saga. The book will be titled "Whisper of Syn" and features Wang Lei and a lovely but troubled woman named Asynja. Readers who enjoyed Dogs of War will find more background about the Warwick siblings and their father, and we will see the path set out before the Shadowlyte Clan in darkest London. I look forward to sharing this story with you in winter 2018. Until then,


AR DeClerck


  1. I started reading the Dark Tower in high school, when there were only a few books, and then devoured the rest as they came out. I reread the series a couple years ago, and I was still in awe of, well, all of it. Some books are better than others - here's looking at you, Song of Susannah and King's ego - and I'm not a fan of how Flagg died, but overall the books are wonderful. They created a world unlike any I'd ever read, tying up his other books into a shared universe that worked precisely because there's nothing like it. And I actually loved the ending - it was perfect for the series.

    1. Agreed. There were portions that dragged and parts that seemed pointless and yet it was still fantastic as a whole



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