Book Review – The Gunslinger by Stephen King

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

I’m not a Stephen King fan, which is not to say that I don’t rate him or anything, I just never read any of his books. I’ve always thought of him as a writer of horror stories and that’s not my sort of stuff. But then I was at work and someone was googling a top 100 books you should read sort of thing, and one of the hits was the top 100 fantasy books. That caught my attention so I asked them to pull it up and there was The Dark Tower series in the top ten.

And this made me think, because I’m really into fantasy and yet I’d never heard of it, let alone read it. A week or so later I was in Waterstones with a bit of cash in my pocket and they had a big display of the Dark Tower books and a ‘Buy one, get one half price’ deal. So I bought the first two.

I was quite excited about it. I get that when I find a series I haven’t read, because there are all these books that I can lose myself in, a whole new set of adventures to go on. I love the escapism and when I read I am totally in the fictional world. That’s if it is a good book.

And there’s the worry, because I get nervous too. What if it’s not as good as I’d hoped? Is that weird? To be nervous about starting a book? Do you ever get that?

I shouldn’t have worried because from line one I was hooked. It’s not what I would call classic fantasy, it feels more post apocalyptic than anything and then you’ve got modern technology (i.e. guns) but who cares? I’ve never bothered much about genre distinctions anyway, I think genres are invented by booksellers, writers just write. Either way I loved the book, especially the time shifting between the protagonist’s past and present. King presents theses as two very different worlds, with the present feeling like a Clint Eastwood western and the past portrayed as a more classic fantasy setting. The protagonists memories have the feeling of dreams, his present is a waking nightmare. It is beautifully done.

It’s a great book and if you haven’t read it you really should. I’ve got the second in the series my my bed ready to read.

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