The Dark Tower, At Last

Thursday, January 21, 2010

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   I wrote this in the wee morning hours this past Sunday.  But due to some technical difficulties and life hinderances, I am only now able to post.  I hope this finds you well.


Yes, it's true, friends.  I have come to the end of the gunslinger's long journey, the completion of Stephen King's magnum opus, and I am here to make my report.  You'll get no spoilers from me, however.  Nay, never in life, for I would not be the one to ruin or lessen the experience for those who have not yet traveled this path.  I myself had the opportunity to walk through this world innocent, never knowing what lie over the next hill.  And I would have you do the same, for that, I believe, would be the author's wish.  Let him tell it on his terms.

What I will give you instead are my impressions, though they may be vague.  Think of this as a diary entry written by one who, though compelled to record their experiences, is paranoid that the diary itself may slip into the wrong hands.

The Dark Tower, the final installment of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, is, of course, beautiful and terrible and, at times, nearly unbearable.  There came a point (two points, actually, now that I think of it) when I had to put it down.  I had to take a break for a day (and once for two) because I was so shattered and so (let's admit it) depressed that I didn't know if I could go on.  But of course, I did go on.  Like the gunslinger, I was too close.  I had to see this through to the end.  And I can tell you, bittersweet though it may be, it is well worth it.  There is joy here, and a terrifying twist of fate that made me shudder.  (I think my exact words, muttered under my breath in hushed, horrified tones, were, "No f-ing way…")  But it is brilliance all the same, a true masterpiece.  And it is perfect.

The personal touches, by the way, sai King… you said you hoped they weren't pretentious.  They weren't, though I must admit I was a mite scared of that when they first came up.  But, of course, and as always, you didn't disappoint.  And we, your "constant readers", we all say thankya.  Truly, for this epic tale is worth every last syllable.

As a quick side note, I have a friend who got snagged at the end of Wizard and Glass (Vol. IV, ya ken).  There was some oddity there she couldn't get past and so never picked up the Fifth (Wolves of the Calla).  I would urge this friend (and any of you that may have a similar problem) to go on.  The journey deepens and, in some respects, gets wilder still.  But hang in there.  There are places to see and people to meet and experiences I wouldn't have you miss for all the worlds.  (See Jake Chambers vs. a New York taxi cab.  It is worthy.)

All in all, this is an addictive and powerful series, seemingly infused with a living, breathing soul of the kind that makes really, really good fiction what it is.  There are many twists and turns and backtracks along the way.  But what may seem random at first finds its way to its purpose and becomes so crucial to the story that, by the end, you can't see how it could have been told without it.

The characters in The Dark Tower are like dear friends to me now, and I am sad to see it end.  But I suppose it's time to move on.  Get out of Stephen King's glammer for awhile.  Oh, there is still much more of King's world that I have yet to explore.  Under the Dome, for instance, which I bought as soon as it came out and which sits unopened (aside from the teensiest peek at the inside dust jacket, just to see what it might be about… it is tantalizingly blank, adding almost irresistible mystery to the novel) on my computer desk.  And I've never read Cujo or Needful Things.  (And what kind of King fan hasn't read Cujo?)  But, alas, I must put these off for a little while longer.  I believe even Master King would agree that too limited a reading diet isn't good for the writer's mind.  I have some other tales waiting for me, spun by other wordslingers.  Perhaps The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, which I bought on a whim.  Or that YA novel which intrigued me… Unwind by Neal Shusterman.  Whatever I choose, it's time to go out and try something new.

As the boy said, there are other worlds than these.


CK said...

Shame Shame Firespark not so much for not reading Cujo as I have also not,being always distracted by the other goodies in the King library, but Needful Things ... Just for the record an 11 yr old we know and love has beat you to that one and it is one of my favorites. I would just like to point out that I have overcome my frustration from Wizard and Glass and am back on track. ---CK

firespark said...

I know, I know... I do HAVE Needful Things - it's a hardback copy I found at a thrift store, and it's sitting on my shelf, just waiting for me... I promise I will get to it. (I can't be beat by an 11 yr old!) And, yay! I knew you'd started back on the Dark Tower quest w/ your blog post yesterday. Welcome back, sai. :)