Bookmarks Issue: 
Stephen King

A-DarkTower7King began his Dark Tower epic more than 20 years ago with The Gunslinger. In his finale, Roland Deschain, a descendant of King Arthur and the last gunslinger in the world, completes his quest to save the Dark Tower. Roland and his ka-tet (sacred fellowship), as well as characters from other King stories, travel great distances, fight bloody battles, and suffer personal losses as the forces of evil grow stronger. Roland’s ultimate goal to reach the tower itself, and save the nexus of time and space from destruction, entails one last battle. Then he must enter the tower and await an unknown fate.
Donald M. Grant/Scribner. 864 pages. $35. ISBN: 1880418622

Washington Post 5 of 5 Stars
"In the end, King holds it all together through sheer narrative muscle and his absolute commitment to his slowly unfolding—and deeply personal—vision. … The Dark Tower is a humane, visionary epic and a true magnum opus." Bill Sheehan

Rocky Mountain News 4.5 of 5 Stars
"… as amazing as it may sound, The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, at 864 pages, is as tightly constructed, and as poetic, as the first. … Both as entertainment and as literature, The Dark Tower series is as good as it gets." Mark Graham

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"References to countless literary works that have influenced King and his Dark Tower series still abound: from Isaac Asimov and his Positronic robots to L. Frank Baum’s strange and wonderful Oz books and Robert Browning’s poem, ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.’ … an important addition to the fantasy genre." Dorman T. Shindler

Oregonian 4 of 5 Stars
"Inspired by a Robert Browning poem, the Dark Tower series is at its heart an entry in the Arthurian Cycle, this one dressed in spaghetti Western duds rather than chain mail. … King is a master of the final stand. His climaxes are so stunning and so vivid, because like any good ambush, such care is taken in setting them up." Shawn Vitt

Kansas City Star 3 of 5 Stars
"The Dark Tower is now a completed story, huge and obviously imperfect. There’s a terrific ending here, followed by two epilogues. The first is easy and pat. The second is surprising and, in the context of the whole tale, far more satisfying." Chris Packham

San Jose Mercury News 3 of 5 Stars
"The Dark Tower is a massive book, and the loose ends to multiple story and character lines are tied up around the halfway mark, but not so neatly, and in some cases, not happily. … The final hammer blow is also a bit diffuse and confusing; it may take some contemplation and rereading."Chris Piscitelli

Critical Summary

"I’ve told my tale all the way to the end," King writes in the coda, "and am satisfied." Most readers will be, too. Satisfied, but also sad that after 22 years, nearly 4,000 pages, and seven installments, this archetypal fantasy quest series has ended. As in Song of Susannah, Dark Tower’s predecessor, King pens stunning set pieces, invents cataclysmic battles, and touches on familiar themes of good vs. evil. His writing is as powerful as ever—just imagine a demonic Mordred devouring his mother. But if there’s unanimous admiration for King’s genius, there’s no consensus about Dark Tower. Some critics argue that each piece of the convoluted plot fits into King’s larger vision. Others call the work imperfect for this lofty ambition of a greater whole. Some view King’s insertion of himself as a character as brilliant while others fault it as pretentious. But King fans and novices alike will find Dark Tower a "fitting capstone to a uniquely American epic" (Washington Post). Just don’t start in the middle.

Also in the Series

The Gunslinger The Dark Tower I (2003 revised): King revised about 35 pages of this first installment to better tie in with the more evolved series. Mixing Tolkien and Sergio Leone, King tells of Roland of Gilead, who pursues the Man in Black to learn the secrets of the Dark Tower.