The Dark Tower – Stephen King
The seventh and final installment of Stephen King's Dark Tower saga is perhaps the most anticipated book in the author's long career. King began this epic tale about the last gunslinger more than 20 years ago; now he draws its suspenseful story to a close, snapping together the last pieces of his action puzzle and drawing Roland Deschain ever closer to his ultimate goal.
This is a review of book #7 in the Dark Tower series. The review is spoiler-free, but you might want to check out my thoughts on book #1 (The Gunslinger), book #2 (The Drawing of the Three), book #3 (The Waste Lands), book #4 (Wizard and Glass), book #5 (Wolves of the Calla), and book #6 (Song of Susannah).
Review: My first thought when I finished this book: So many people are going to hate that ending.
In the final book of the Dark Tower series, Roland finally reaches the Tower, but you’ll never guess what happens next.
I love this book so much that I don’t know where to start. I’ve read enough Stephen King novels to know that they usually end with a bloodbath. I expected that the majority of the characters would never see the Tower that they worked so hard to reach. Since I was anticipating death around every corner, I had this weird sense of dread the whole time I was reading. I like these characters, and I didn’t want them to die. But, as expected, the deaths start piling up. Most of the characters don’t make it to the end. It is a Stephen King book, after all.
The aftermath of each death is handled brilliantly. Instead of rushing forward with nonstop action, King takes the time to show the reader how much the deaths impact the remaining characters. This ties in nicely with the themes of the series and allows the reader to fully understand just how much Roland is sacrificing to reach his Tower.
I guess I have to talk about the ending a bit (in a non-spoiler way). It’s anticlimactic. I can totally see why so many readers hate it. The villains aren’t as scary as they first appear. The battles are short. The deaths aren’t too dramatic. However, the ending makes complete sense to me. Roland has sacrificed everything to reach this Tower. At some point, he (and the reader) has to wonder if it is really worth it. Is it everything he expected it to be? Is anything worth the deaths of the people you love?
Even though I like this book, there are a few things about it that bother me. First, I think the pacing is off in many places. It gets so unbelievably slow at times. There is a huge section where the characters do nothing but sit in a cave and listen to a tape of a minor character’s life story. It’s not an interesting story, and I was tempted to skim over it. There are also dead-ends that don’t seem to go anywhere or have any impact on the overall plot.
Like the previous book, this one is a little too meta for me. Stephen King is a character (or, more accurately, four characters) in his own novel. I did get used to it after a while, but it still pulled me out of the story. Also, he relies a lot on deus ex machina, and he points out when he uses deus ex machina, so the reader is very aware that he’s doing it. I didn’t mind at first, but it gets old quickly.
This book does have a few annoying quirks, but it’s still a nearly perfect ending to the series. I’m so happy that I finally got around to reading it.