The Dark Tower Project

With the announcement that both Doctor Sleep and Joyland will be released in 2013, I have decided it is time for me to return to The Dark Tower.

I have read the first three books several times (the first two many, many times).  I have not read Wizard and Glass or The Wind Through The Keyhole.  I also skipped and dipped through the last book.  The arrival of Wind Through The keyhole actually peaked my interest: I want to retrace the steps of Roland and his journey to the tower.

My favorite books previously were: Drawing of the Three, Wastelands, Wolves of the Calla and parts of Song of Susannah.  My least favorite is the first.

So here’s the plan:
1. I’ll do most of the reading by audio book.
2. I choose the original version of the first book, as opposed to King’s revised edition.
3. I will read the books in chronological book order.
4. I will stay with the primary 8 books; skipping Little Sisters and other short Dark Tower related works.

When I first came to The Dark Tower, I was brand new to Stephen King.  I only made it through the first few pages, then jumped ship and went to The Stand.  I later read The Dark Tower, and though confused, went on to The Drawing of the Three.  That book was awesome!

There are things I still don’t totally understand, the primary one is simply this: How does Roland getting to the tower change anything?

There are several good Dark Tower books to guide me on the journey.  My intention is to stay primarily with The Road To The Dark Tower, by Bev Vincent.


  1. I was so enraptured with these series that I nearly cried when it was done. Not because it had a sad ending, but that I would never read it again for the first time.

    Shortly after I started my blog, I decided to read all of the Dark Tower novels along with the ancillary novels in order of publication. I started with 'Salem's Lot and moved forward. I then read all of the Castle Rock stories in order. Now, I'm trying to complete my third reading of the King canon in the last 25 years.

    As bad as Insomnia is, I'd forgotten how important it is to the Dark Tower saga and found a new appreciation of it (even if I still found it to be a lousy novel).

    Read each book carefully and savor it.

  2. Well, that's quite an undertaking, good luck.

    Let me answer to to your question: How does Roland getting to the tower change anything? with another question. How much have you read, 'cause I don't want to give away anything if it'll spoil the read.

    In any case, I think the real question is what's the Tower really all about anyway? I'm not sure I know the answer to that.

    I agree that Drawing of the Three is the best written of the books, although I'd add the unedited Gunslinger to that list. The original is far better than the revision, trust me, and try get a copy of King's reading of the first book, you'll like it, although he maybe could have toned down his reading of Randal Flagg, I don't know, that's just me.

    I also agree if you think the style of the other books can't match the first two. I think a main problem with the books is King is regional American writer, i.e. he writes best about certain rural and urban setting and is more a out of league in unfamiliar settings. I say this because all his real world horror stories pack more immediacy than the Stand and all Tower books put together....Sorry, it's just one opinion among many.


  3. I saw the Dark Tower and its ending as a allegory about how Stephen King feels about his career. To write each book is an epic struggle. When he gets to the end. It's back to the beginning.

    1. That's very interesting, and I'm guessing there's a sense in which that's correct.

      I sometimes thought maybe the Tower was like an allegory for addiction, it's not about some search for final answers so much as addiction to empty symbols or something like that, I'm not sure if I've got my own thinking right on it.


  4. Keep in mind that the Dark Tower spans King's entire career and much of his body of work ties into it.

    The last books were finished as part of the end of his career as what he considered his status as a professional writer (making multi-book deals with publishers). He was afraid of the Dark Tower, putting off its writing. He finished it, writing at what was apparently a fevered pitch, considering the number of words he cranked out over that three year span.

    It's ending marked a watershed moment. No more multi-book deals. He writes now when he wants to, what he wants to, and how he wants to -- just as he did in the beginning.

    1. That does make for an even more interesting way of looking at it, and it reminds me of something.

      My own alternate ending for the series would have Roland reach the top of the Tower and their find Stephen King waiting for him.

      Roland demands to know what he's there for and if he (King) has answers to all of this (i.e. both Tower and story events).

      King says he was hoping Roland might tell him that, Roland has no idea what king is talking about, which is what King was afraid of. Roland again demands answers, not just to the Tower but everything, after all, Roland points out, it's your (King's) imagination.

      What follows ould be an interesting kind of Confessional. The fictional King would admit he has no about idea what he does (writing) or why he does it, although he admits a lot of it (his work) might a mirror of some sort.

      All he knows is he painted a target on his head at about age five and kick me sign on his back and high school and wore them like some martyrs badge for a good deal of his career, finally getting rid of both sometime in 87.

      And since then skies have been clear, Roland asks? King guesses, so, maybe, how should he know?

      You're lying, Roland responds, and asks King where he gets his ideas?

      King, exasperated, responds he doesn't know. Roland still tells him he's lying, he's always known.

      There's more, but yeah, that was part of an alternate idea for a Tower ending.


  5. David, I am almost done listening to this series, half way through number 7.

    I probably read the first 3 each twice (I might have read the first one 3 times b/c I read the original when I was 12 and found it really hard to understand) and read the other ones once.
    I Have LISTENED to them all about 3 times.

    The series gets better and better the more I listen to them. Some parts I hated the first time around (All of Glass and SK writing himself into the story, sneetches, Mordred, I still don't really get the whole Mia thing) that I grew to like or just succumb to the fact that the stories aren't perfect.

    Some of the stuff I didn't notice before, like Nozella is probably Moxie and the misspellings on Salem's lot dust jacket had more impact this time around.

    But there are parts that that make me say out loud "Wow, what a great friggin story this is!" Actually a lot. I really like how Steve wrote himself into the story now. Father Callahan is such a great character and has one of the best stories in the whole series I think.

    I look forward to see your writings on this. You're in for such an enjoyable ride!

    One thing of note is going from Mueller to George Guidall is quite jarring at first. they are not completely different but it is enough that it takes a little while to get used to. I think Mueller is the greatest but I really think Guidall does a better Roland.

    I have to find something to listen to after this that will hold my interest as well as this story does but I doubt that will happen.


  6. Possible spoilers: I personally don't think of the Tower of having anything to do with King.. his addictions and all that jazz. I really think it had to do with Roland. I think when Roland gets to the tower the last time around (because I believe he will) he will find peace and perhaps heaven or Valhalla. It will mark him forgiving himself for all he feels guilty for.

  7. But how does his getting there change anything beyond himself? Didn't the quest, att he beginning, seem like he was going to make things right (I forget the words, okay). But his journey would somehow restore order to a world that was breaking down. I know he fails and everything resets. . . but, as you said, someday he will get there and have done it correctly. What is he supposed to do?

  8. I don't think it changes anything, saving his universe is his job. I think of the ending in 3 ways.
    1. He is damned to repeat his journey forever until he fails and all of creation falls.
    2. His journey to save the universe becomes easier because he learns to love and forgive himself. He does get peace and will no longer have to save the world.
    3. It's a story, that will be told over and over again. A great one at that.

  9. Not "his" universe, "the universe" is what I meant.