The Gunslinger is a western fantasy fiction centered on Roland Deschain. As the last gunslinger of his kind, he went on a horror-majestic journey filled with insanity to chase his nemesis, “the man in black.” Roland meets several characters along the way, including a boy named Jake, who joins him as part of his journey.
As the first book in the Dark Tower series, I like that it sets things up for future stories, but as a self-contain story, it falls apart right from the get-go. I will start with the negatives. The plot is dull and dreadful. There are significant moments or emotional moments that stick with you. The prose is dense but confusing. King loves to describe the scenery in this book precisely, and I like it at the beginning, but then it becomes a gimmick that annoys me. Also, the antagonist is a one-dimension type of bad guy. Now on the positive side. Roland is a magnificent protagonist. He has an intriguing backstory and motivation, and his personality is wacky and exciting, but his gun skills remind me of the cowboys in western movies. His father-son-like relationship with Jake is also one of the good parts. The world-building is phenomenal. I have never seen a world like this in the fantasy genre. It is so grounded and bleak but contains crazy creatures and people that make you want to learn or study more about it.
Overall, I recommend the book to those who love western and fantasy because it is a unique take on those genres and to those who love characters like Roland because he is worth your time, even if the story is uninteresting and lacks excitement. Additionally, I am about 50 pages into the next book, The Drawing of the Three, which is a vast improvement from the first book.
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