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The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  351,739 Ratings  ·  11,931 Reviews

Beginning with a short story appearing in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1978, the publication of Stephen King's epic work of fantasy -- what he considers to be a single long novel and his magnum opus -- has spanned a quarter of a century.

Set in a world of extraordinary circumstances, filled with stunning visual imagery and unforgettable characters, The Dar

Paperback, 231 pages
Published June 24th 2003 by NAL (first published June 10th 1982)
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David Good If you already got through the first book you HAVE to keep going. That's like doing everything to bake a cake and then being like "Making the cake…moreIf you already got through the first book you HAVE to keep going. That's like doing everything to bake a cake and then being like "Making the cake wasn't very fun. Should I continue and eat it anyways?" But seriously, the first book is there to lay the foundation for the entire series, while necessary, it only gets better from there.(less)
Pat C. I say read it. I totally agree with your assessment of "It" and "The Stand". There are so many varying opinions about which books are King's best and…more I say read it. I totally agree with your assessment of "It" and "The Stand". There are so many varying opinions about which books are King's best and a lot of people name "It" and "The Stand". I liked both books ok but they are way down my list of his best books ( in fact, I think "It" gets downright disgusting towards the end). My personal faves are "The Green Mile" and "Black House".
There are also diverse opinions about the way he ends the dark tower series but I thought it was very well done and if you like SK books in general, you will like the dark tower books (with the possible exception of "The Gunslinger" which is surreal, vague and confusing - although it has fans for just those reasons. Fortunately it is relatively short.)
I think you should at least read "The Drawing of the Three". If it doesn't hold your interest, don't waste your time reading the remainder of the series. You could probably find a lot of books more rewarding to your personal taste.(less)

Community Reviews

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A few things you should know before deciding how helpful this review will be for you.

*** I think the Dark Tower series as a whole is a staggering achievement and belongs in any discussion without qualification of the “Greatest Fantasy Series of All Time.”

*** There are no spoilers in this review but I have read the series twice all the way through and am doing a third reading as part of a group read this month. Therefore, my review is colored by my knowledge of ho
Dan Schwent
The man in black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.

Roland Deschain, the last of the Gunslingers, is on a quest for the Dark Tower, a mysterious edifice that is the axle of worlds and holds all existence together. In this, the first volume, Roland pursues his nemesis across the Mohaine Desert. He follows the man in black's trail to a little town called Tull, then through more desert, encountering a boy named Jake from our world, and then into the mountains. Will Roland finally c
Kevin Kelsey
Dec 27, 2014 Kevin Kelsey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Great world building and atmosphere. Definitely different from anything I've read before. It felt very scattered, like King didn't really have any idea what the next paragraph would hold. I'm sure that probably made it a blast to write, but it could've been better if it wasn't quite so disjointed.

The dialogue between characters is Star Wars Episode II level bad, unfortunately. I really enjoyed the world building though, which makes me think that the series may be worth continuing.
The man in black fled across the desert and the Gunslinger followed.

That is the line I remembered for years and years that made me think that someday I would revisit THE GUNSLINGER...As a young teenage girl I read THE GUNSLINGER and really didn't like it that much. I didn't hate it- it just confuuuuuused me. And to review this I will have to take you back to when I first read it as a teen...

Stephen King is special to me. Special because when I first discovered him- it was the first time I went
Mohammed Arabey
Now that we have an OUTSTANDING Poster for the movie;

I just knew that the movie will start following the Ending of the Last Book!!!
So, after suffering the Hard, Dry, Boring read of book one..which as following a Man in Black you don't know, in a weird hot dry desert in hot August for one reason,

To reach a Dark Tower you don't know where..or why..detailed in too much adverbs and ambiguity.

Now the next 2 books I already bought will be sopiled,

That I already will watch the movie..I can't wait till
The Dark Tower series was one of the great joys of my reading life. However, it also frustrated me to the point where I often wanted to bludgeon Stephen King with a hardback copy of It.

I was baffled by The Gunslinger when I first read it way back in my high school days. It had been an unobtainable limited edition that had popped up in the title card of King’s other books, and when it finally went into wide release I couldn’t wait to snatch it up. But then I couldn’t make sense of it. There was a
This is the beginning of Stephen King's famous magnum opus, the Dark Tower. This is where the master of horror writes his great work of fantasy based on a combination of The Lord of the Rings and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."

This simple and beautiful sentence is the opening line, the trademark and even the summary of The Gunslinger. In most ways, this single sentence is what defines this book.

For that is how it all begins.
Darth J

Well, I'm trying this thing where I don't DNF books. Let's face it, I'll probably mess up that resolution though. On a similar note, who here is still hitting the gym? Ha! Thought so. Don't judge me then. Anyway, I know this was a short read but it took me forever to finish it. I think that the idea is fine but it's the writing that is putting me off. I feel the same way about Neil Gaiman, in that I really like the premise and want to read their works but I'm just not feeling their style.

Jan 10, 2012 Lyn rated it liked it
An intriguing book, it draws the reader in little by little.

It is fantastic, imaginative ... but inconsistent. Amid moments of brilliance there are also islands of abstraction so murky, almost Kafkaesque in absurdity, that I could not follow. But it is interesting enough that I will probably read the sequels.

Of course that is another detraction, this book does not stand alone but leaves the reader with many questions unanswered. Fun questions that lead the reader to seek further, but a work of
Jul 14, 2015 Adina rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sf, horror, pop
My father is currently reading 11/22/63 which I gifted to him on Christmas since he is an admirer of JFK and he once told me he wanted to try King. He is completely mesmerized by King’s writing (rightly so) and I thought it will be a nice idea to tell him about the King’s novel I’ve been reading in the same time. My tentative to explain the plot of Gunslinger went kinda like this: a guy, a Gunslinger, travels through a desolated desert to catch a Man in Black, who is a sort of a sorcerer. The fo ...more
Jan 28, 2017 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fiction
The first book of Stephen King's epic fantasy series will not disappoint but may frustrate - stick with me here.

The Gunslinger is a rare book for fantasy lovers, it reads like a Clint Eastwood western - perhaps The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Pale Rider or even Unforgiven. Our protagonist is indeed the Gunslinger, starting out on a mission that has plagued him from his childhood and his Father before him. A quest the he 'earns' the right to pursue, indeed he may well be the last Gunslinger alive
Mar 20, 2008 Taylor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adventure seekers, people who like stories centered around a hero
Recommended to Taylor by: Tim
Dear Stephen King,

I'd like to apologize for the times that I've made fun of you in any way, shape or form, including the kid in my English 2 class sophomore year who would not stop raving about you as if you were the only person to ever write a book.

It's not that I think that kid was justified for only ever reading your books and no-one else's, and it's not that I thought you were a horrible writer and now I think you're amazing.

But, this was really quite a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure what
Jan 20, 2013 Bookwraiths rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

The Gunslinger is one of those books that evokes strong reactions in readers. You could simply say that people either love it or hate it but that is really too simplistic. Rather Stephen King evokes such a myriad range of different emotions with this science fiction/fantasy western that it is perfectly normal for an individual to feel both awed by its brilliance yet completely unhappy with its conclusion. I realize that is strange to say, but it is abso
Raeleen Lemay
For me, this was a super fun read with terrible pacing. I found the first third of the book to be a bit of a drag and I just wanted to know more about the world (which we only really get a good glimpse of at the end). The middle third was my favorite bit, as that's when Jake was introduced and I found him to be the most interesting aspect of the story. The final third had some answers, but I still found the pacing to be a bit too slow for me. I'm definitely interested to continue the series thou ...more
mark monday
Dec 25, 2011 mark monday rated it liked it
Recommended to mark by: Dan, Kemper, Stephen
A Gunslinger, a Man in Black, a Child Out of Time & Space, the Beginning of a Cryptic Saga...

A Second Read. the first time: unimpressed, bored, agitated, gave up. the second time: so much better, a lot to consider, an enjoyable experience...

A Strangely Sparse Narrative, perhaps too much mystery, perhaps too much of a tease and not enough action, perhaps too much to think about, a frustrating lack of detail...

A Tarot Card: THE HANGED MAN...
Sacrifice... Renunciation... Contemplation... Waiting
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
All I could think throughout this book was… what the hell am I reading?!

This western fantasy has to be the most confusing book I’ve read in a long time. Some parts were more interesting than others but overall I was very disappointed.

After hearing everyone rave about this series I have a hard time understanding why. I don’t believe it would be this popular if it wasn’t for Stephen King’s name on it. There I said it!

I didn’t like the story very much nor the writing.

I had been warned that the fir
Nov 12, 2016 Kyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Typical King, Strange, Really Strange.

Roland, the last gunslinger, is pursuing "the man in black" across the desert. Why? I'm not really sure. Something to do with a Tower and the fact that "the man in black" is evil. 

The writing style is typical Stephen King - strange. In this book, he has the habit of starting a chapter with a sentence like: "The boy found the oracle and it almost destroyed him." Then he'll go off on page after page of flashbacks or other none related storylines until at so

Aug 29, 2011 Apatt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
“The rain in Spain falls on the plain.
There is joy and also pain
but the rain in Spain falls on the plain.

Time’s a sheet, life’s a stain,
All the things we know will change
and all those things remain the same,
but be ye mad or only sane,
the rain in Spain falls on the plain.

We walk in love but fly in chains
And the planes in Spain fall in the rain.”

I can not imagine Audrey Hepburn singing this version.

The Gunslinger is Stephen King at his most whimsical and lyrical, not two words you would as
Will M.
Roland Deschain of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger, is on a mysterious quest for the mysterious Dark Tower. Aside from that, he was also in a quest to follow the man in black, for answers. With his trusty companion, the child named Jake, he sets on an unforgettable adventure.

The synopsis was really short and vague, but once I finished the book, everything seemed to clear up. This novel was about a man's quest for something meaningful to him, and he was so desperate, desperate enough to do unimaginab
Jason Koivu
Feb 28, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Gloriously moody and atmospheric!

The Gunslinger is high plains, lonely traveler, John Wayne-in-a-post apocalyptic dystopia goodness.

With a survivalist main character and a dependent boy at his side, fighting mutants and what were human beings against all that wealth of stark nothingness for scenery, it felt very akin to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, which I'd read somewhat recently and loved. Mysticism and Biblical references abound and at points threaten to muddy the narrative waters, but never
Feb 26, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
Enjoyed it! Glad I purchased the revised and expanded edition with the new introduction and forward by KING. (which I wasn't aware of at the time) He really set up the book enticingly. Only 6 more to go. Can't wait to see what happens next!

Update: May 15, 2017 - Wow! Dark Tower fans.....Check out the new movie trailer - Excellent - Coming August 4th.

Blake Crouch
Sep 10, 2016 Blake Crouch rated it it was amazing
At a loss for words when it comes to this book. There is something that feels so new and fresh in terms of genre. Western. Fantasy. Coming-of-age. And possibly sci-fi. All things I love. And having now read this, and knowing it was first published in 1982, I'm pretty sure one of my other favorite writers, the great Cormac McCarthy, drew inspiration from The Gunslinger in both Blood Meridian and The Road. One of the most original stories I've ever read. Cannot wait to continue this series!
Buddy read with the notorious duo, Quick Draw Stepheny and Pistol Packin’ Delee .

The Gunslinger clambered over the rocks. He knew the Man in Black was close. He could pick up his scent. The Man in Black smelled like charred meat. Evil charred meat. The river to his left was the apotheosis of all rivers; it was watery and wet. The Gunslinger pictured himself lying in the river, being carried backwards in an unending current; lulled by the sweet relentless drifting towards death itself. In a fuz
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 25, 2009 Mike (the Paladin) rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
King is a gifted writer and has constructed a sort of intertwined "multiverse" (thank you Albert Einstein and Michael Moorcock)for his novels. It is compelling, detailed, gritty, and flawed. I have observed before that I can't really call myself a King fan. He seems unable to conceive of what I might call "actual good" or "altruistic good". His protagonists are usually terribly (even fatally) flawed in some critical way. In this I don't mean the in the "I'm human with feet of clay" type of flaw ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, #1), Stephen King
The Gunslinger is a novel by American author Stephen King and is the first volume in the Dark Tower series.
عنوانها: تفنگدار؛ هفت تیر کش؛ نویسنده: استیون کینگ؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: آوریل سال 2009 میلادی
عنوان: تفنگدار؛ اثر: استیون کینگ؛ برگردان: کتایون نصیری مجد؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، نشر زهره، 1387، در 296 ص، شابک: 9789642981052؛ کتاب نخست از هفتگانه برج تاریک؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی قرن 20 م
عنوان: تفنگدار؛ اثر: استیون کینگ؛ برگردان: فاطمه
This was a re-read for me, but this time around I'm listening to the series via audiobook.

I enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than I enjoyed it the first time.
David Sven
Apr 15, 2012 David Sven rated it it was amazing
What do you get when you mix the epicness of Tolkien, exalt in the cool of “The Good The Bad and The Ugly,” are partial to Arthurian legend, and possibly (some have suggested) have overindulged in too much weed? You get “The Gunslinger” the first book in Stephen King’s Magnum Opus “The Dark Tower Series.”

This will be the third time I’ve read “The Gunslinger,” and each time I read it the more I appreciate it. Not for its plot structure, which is often times as broken as Roland – but more for its
Rebecca McNutt
Jan 16, 2017 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
Stephen King's early books and films introduced me to the world of horror fiction when I was twelve, but recent works of his have begun to point to writing for profit rather than passion, and his books are getting more vulgar and less scary. However, The Gunslinger breaks through every one of his usual tropes as a fantasy novel rather than the usual Maine horror tale, and it has excellent imagery, unforgettable characters and a complex plot. Even if you're not a fan of horror, if you like fantas ...more
Jan 04, 2016 ♛Tash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to ♛Tash by: Evelyn (devours and digests words)
How perfect is Avenged Sevenfold's Gunslinger for this book?

Buddy read with Vanessahhh ...Right, to the review then.

Whatever Stephen King was on when he wrote The Gunslinger, I will have some of it. This was completely cray, not a least bit sorry for it and I loved it.

As the cover will clue one in, this is a western-themed fantasy. There's a gunslinger, Roland Deschain and a world that has moved on, a bleak world on the brink of destruction, swallowed up by sand and devil grass. Roland Deschain
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

This is my first experience of Stephen King’s work. I am myself surprised that it isn’t one of his pure horror stories, but I also had a feeling I was going to end up exploring the Dark Tower universe before anything else. With an adaptation in the work, starring both Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba—two formidable actors, might I add—I vowed I’d get my hands on this series before indulging the movie. The first book in this series, The Gunslin
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  • The Regulators
  • Everville (Book of the Art #2)
  • Legends
  • Shadowland
  • The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death
  • The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus
  • Swan Song
  • Sea of Silver Light (Otherland, #4)
  • The White Rose (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #3)
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, M ...more
More about Stephen King...

Other Books in the Series

The Dark Tower (7 books)
  • The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)
  • The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, #3)
  • Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)
  • Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, #5)
  • Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)
  • The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, #7)

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“Go then, there are other worlds than these.” 1821 likes
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” 1283 likes
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