For more than a decade now, I've been reading Stephen King's Gunslinger
books; the series he started writing as a teenager and has finally finished with the seventh volume, called The Dark Tower.
The series is loosely based on Browning's "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," and it's a magic-realist, metafictional, cowboy, horror, fantasy, science fiction saga epic that runs nearly a thousand pages to the volume, and took the man a lifetime to write.
The seventh volume highlights all that is good and all that is poor in this series. It is, of course, self-indulgent. This series contains (lots) more verbiage than the Bible and Kapital combined, and says much, much less than either. Of course. It goes without saying. King is indulging his imaginaton, and we have to indulge his indulgence if we're going to enjoy this.
And it is marvellously enjoyable. From the first page of the first book, I've been quietly engrossed in the outcome of King's questing heroes. And at the end of this seventh book, I found out how it all came out, and I wasn't disappointed. This was a tale worth traversing.
If you ask me, these are King's best books. The basic premise -- a cadre of mystic, gunslinging knights traversing the worlds and all time to reach the mcguffin that holds the universe together -- is the perfect, relentless drummer, pounding out the tempo of the story, dragging them through hardship beyond hardship. The science fiction elements are cool; the fantasy elements are heroic; the horror elements are creepy as hell. The plot doesn't slacken, and the characters are deeply and thoroughly drawn.
i'm glad it's over, though. After thousands and thousands of pages, I just wanted it to end. And I'm grateful it ended so well.
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