One of my favorite evening rituals is spending time with a book in bed. For the last couple of days I have been ravenously reading Stephen King’s The Gunslinger, the first book of The Dark Tower series. Through his writing, King has created in my mind a fertile ground for dreams so vivid and filled with gods and monsters that keep waking me up at night only to realize they were just a fragment of my imagination at work under his spell. Indeed, I have just finished reading this book, but the restless nights are far from over. There are seven other books left in the series, after all.
The Dark Tower is an epic quest story about Roland Deschain, a man whose only goal in life seems to be finding the tower yet unsure what his next step will be once he does. The tower is said to connect all the existing worlds together, much like Yggdrasil, the tree of life in Norse mythology. We learn Roland lives in a place called Mid-World and he is the absolute last living member of an order of knights known as the Gunslingers. In his quest to reach his destination, Roland follows the steps of an enigmatic character called “the man in black” and is joined early in the story by Jake Chambers, a boy who had seemingly died in another world.
I never really planned to read The Dark Tower series despite having had the books for years. At first they seemed to be works of Western fiction, which has never appealed much to me. However, King’s series is much more than what I thought it was. His idea was born from the wish to create an epic novel like Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and after watching The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, thus realizing he wanted to write “a novel that contained Tolkien’s sense of quest and magic, but set against Leone’s almost absurdly majestic Western backdrop“. The result is nothing short of extraordinary and I must admit – what really convinced me to start reading the series was watching (a great deal of times) the newly released trailer for The Dark Tower movie, ready to hit the screens on August 4. The movie seems to be a sequel to the eight books so carry on reading I must. Idris Elba as Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the man in black represent the perfect duo as their acting styles will add even greater valor to the characters they embody.
Reading Stephen King is never a comfortable act. The worlds he creates are not ones we can easily find shelter in. They can crumble before our eyes faster than a heartbeat and nowhere seems to be safe. His worlds aren’t places many would gladly inhabit without a heavy heart, but somehow they appease to something deeply primordial in all of us. Thus, reading the King is never an indulgence. Sometimes one simply doesn’t have a choice.
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