The Gunslinger is one of King’s most imagined and thought out novels. There is no formula, little comparison with the other novels he has written, save for the feeling of uncertainty and fear that were reminiscent of The Stand. And there is the obvious link between Randall Flagg and Walter O’Dim.
The story was slow to start and unlike many of King’s other books, readers have to work with the text, pay attention to not only the words on the page but build this world within your mind. There is a need for engagement with the audience that if it is not met, the story can be lost.
Roland Deschain, the titular Gunslinger, is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s High Plains Drifter. He traverses a wasteland of uncanny, death and destruction in chase of the Man in Black. On the way he is distracted by mad preachers, demons and of all things, a human boy.
The imagery within each of the sections of the first book is high fantasy and there are moments of the sublime that will make up for any moment of slowness. By the time we reach the final section and Roland catches up with the Man in Black, the narrative ascends to a whole new level. It is a pay off worth the slow start. And as the shortest section of the book (unfortunately), it leaves such promise for the sequel that you will want to continue on Roland’s journey.