Book Review: The Gunslinger

THE GUNSLINGER | Stephen King
(The Dark Tower #1)
05.03.2016 (first published 06.01.1982) | Scribner
Rating: 3/5 stars

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Roland Deschain hails from a Gilead and a world that has been left on the brink of destruction. The last of his kind, Roland is known as a gunslinger. His one mission is to track the Man in Black and defeat him in order to restore justice to the world. Along his journey Roland will meet several people who he must determine their value to his life and his journey. There is Alice, the enticing woman of Tull, who has a story of her encounter with Roland’s nemesis and Jack, a young boy who claims he is alone and displaced from a futuristic world that puzzles Roland. Can Roland find the Man in Black? Will his journey be worth it in the end?

7702f1f0-7b3d-4070-8560-a33c80a37c23Go then, there are other worlds than these.

THE GUNSLINGER is the opening book to a Western fantasy epic that stretches across seven books total. King first started this series in the 1980’s and did not finish it until over twenty years later. Reading the introduction to this book from King himself truly helped me to get into the proper mindset. What readers must know when walking into THE GUNSLINGER is that this book serves as an introduction or prologue of sorts to the entire series. 

Within this first book we receive a muddy tale of events between Roland’s current journey and the years of his youth when he was training to be a gunslinger. I personally would have preferred a more linear plot with this story, as the transitions between timelines were often not smooth. Despite my dislike for the jump in timeline, I did find each section to have very intriguing parts to them. There was an exciting shootout and I really enjoyed Roland’s flashbacks to his training.

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I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my heart.

Even with these intriguing sections, I couldn’t help but feel the overall story was dragging. It was tough to understand what new terms meant and the story lacked a sense of clarity. I kept hoping there would be an aha moment where everything just clicked and I understood what was going on, but I never found that. I was left feeling that what I read was just okay, but not amazing. Thank you to the bookworms of the world who warned me that this book would treat me this way. So many people told me that the first book is their least favorite and to keep pushing through. If it wasn’t for this warning, that I’m reading the series with a group of people, and the fact that I own an entire boxed set, I honestly might have contemplated quitting this series.

Flash forward: Since this review has taken me a few days to write since finishing the book, I have already moved on to book two and can assure you all that it’s true…it does get better! I’m really enjoying book two and now I understand more of what was revealed in book one.


This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Gunslinger

  1. So glad to have read this review before picking up this book because I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for a while now. A lot of people talk about how much they loved this series but it sounds like if I went in expecting to be blown away by book one I would’ve probably been disappointed enough to stop the series 😂 Glad to hear it gets better too! Happy reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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