Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Gunslinger” as Want to Read:
The Gunslinger
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Gunslinger

(The Dark Tower #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  550,916 ratings  ·  20,896 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, 238 pages
Published February 16th 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton Ltd (first published June 1st 1982)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Gunslinger, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Diego You must continue, don't stop know. Yeah, it's a little hard to understand some points, because they will be clearer after you discover some points! I…moreYou must continue, don't stop know. Yeah, it's a little hard to understand some points, because they will be clearer after you discover some points! I've read the entire series and I had the same feeling after finish "The Gunslinger", but the other books are totally different and amazing. I dare you to continue and read "The Drawing of the Three", if you don't like you can stop to read, but I'm pretty sure that you will like, Let me know what you think after read the second book!

Long days and pleasant nights!(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

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  550,916 ratings  ·  20,896 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Gunslinger

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
(B-) 68% | Satisfactory
Notes: A discordant blend of flowery, terse and vulgar prose, difficult to follow and insufficient in explaining new concepts.
Chelsea Humphrey
Please don't hate me. I know it seems sacrilegious to give a Stephen King anything less than 4 stars, but this one was SLOOOOWWWW for the first 75%. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, but I did find this was an easy book to put down and not feel an urgency to jump back into for days at a time.

I've heard many folks describe this as a nice prologue to the series and that, in a sense, the action and story doesn't become investment worthy until book 2. That, coupled with the fact that I did becom
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
3/20/21: 5-stars yet again!!! Who's surprised?

Now the question is, do I continue to read the entire series and actually read the final book this time?

If ka says it is so, it will be.

3/15/21: It's been almost a year. I guess I should pick up The Gunslinger again. Why not!?

I only have 1,100 other books I want to read.

Picking up for the 4th time! 🖤

6/3/2020: ALL HAIL THE KING!!!

Five mind-blowing stars, again.

In contrast to the rest of the books in this series, The Gunslinger, is like the black and
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
Mario the lone bookwolf
Nothing beats the real Wild West, except a dark fantasy infested badass Kingian character exposition starting one of the best fantasy horror hybrid series of all times.

It reminds me of the style of some of his short stories, in fact, it are 5 short stories put together to a short novel and young Kings´ writing was darker, more direct, and epic, different than during his drug years and again different than in the period after when he kind of calmed down (not got old, because he is the King!). On
Luca Ambrosino
ENGLISH (The Gunslinger) / ITALIANO

When I read this novel more than twenty years ago, I did not appreciate it. Clearly, Roland's story did not charmed enough my distracted and teenage mind. Therefore, I decided to prematurely stop the "The Black Tower" series. A few days ago in a bookstore I stumbled on a copy of the new edition of "The Gunslinger", and reading the preface I understood a couple of things. FIRST: not just myself, but also Stephen King was young when he wrote the same edition of "

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
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best opening line in literature? For me that’s simple. Repeat after me — “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

When it was first written by a very young Stephen King five decades ago (1970-1982), it was a niche story, a strange vision of harsh postapocalyptic spaghetti Western in the world that has “moved on”, the world that once upon a time was just like ours, but now sandalwood guns and echos of remnants of technology coexist in this world through which a s
Twelve years in the making, and kicking off the story that would envelop King's career, this was finally released in 1992. When I first read it, I thought it was OK, but had zero interest in the Dark Tower or the following books. It was only on reading it a second time, having now read some of the subsequent books, that I could appreciate this scene setting foundation of this series. On this, my third reading (second reading of this revised version), this book is more like a marker to outline th ...more
Johann (jobis89)
Mar 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I don’t like people. They fuck me up.”

Roland Deschain, the last of the Gunslingers, is after the Man in Black. Along the way he meets a young boy named Jake, who appears to be from a world that is different to Roland’s.

Ah, Roland. I had forgotten how difficult it was to like you in The Gunslinger. Some of your decisions are questionable, but that is the price of obsession.

The Gunslinger is so unlike King’s usual style of writing; the prose is beautifully poetic as we are introduced to a world t
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

As Roland travels across the desert in search of the man in black, whom he knows as Walter, he encounters a farmer named Brown and Zoltan, Brown's crow. Roland spends the night there and recalls his time spent in Tull, a small town Roland passed through not long before the start of the novel.

The man in black had also stayed in the town; he
Kevin Kelsey
Dec 27, 2014 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 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
Mohammed Arabey
Aug 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
صدرت بالعربية اخيرا بعنوان الرجل المسلح
Beaware that the movie's following the Ending of the Last Book!!!

But in the first book, I suffered the Hard, Dry, Boring read of 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.

That didn't help much to start the following 2 books I already bought...

Book one was a true disappointment for me, I never thought it'd b
My third time reading! I have also read this same part of the story in graphic novels and remember references to it through the rest of the Dark Tower saga. I am definitely looking at this much differently knowing more about what happened before and after this book. I think back to the first time I read it and how I struggled some trying to imagine this fitting into a bigger mythology. Now it all flows much smoother.

This is also a part of my rereading all of King’s books in chronological order.
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
Not my cuppa.
Since the book is called Gunslinger I sort of thought there would be guns being slung, but I found that's not really the case. I mean..I wish, but no.


I was told this was the worst of the Dark Tower series, but that it was also the shortest, so that would help make up for it. But I've got to say that even though this was a relatively small book, there was just nothing in it to make me want to continue. I wasn't interested in anything that was happening.
He goes to a gross town, m
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lala BooksandLala
I get the popularity, obviously I do. And as a massive King fan, I dish out this rating sadly, for I would have loved nothing more than to tell you this is my new favourite book. Alas, it was not my taste- and as is such with all my reviews, my rating must be based on my own personal enjoyment and less on a novel's possible literary merit. So I can't tell you if this book is objectively good, I just know that I did not find it to be so. ...more
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.
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

So here's the deal . . . THE DARK TOWER obliterated my long-running book funk. I read all ten of the original series graphic novels, then I read the five from the spinoff.

FIFTEEN graphic novels. In three days.

Then I had to read the real thing. #cantstopwontstop

You: Why?

B/c after reading all FIFTEEN of the graphic novels, Roland still hadn't made it to the tower. *bangs head against wall*

And after reading THE DARK TOWER (the novel), I discovered that with the addition of
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.

Michael || TheNeverendingTBR
I've never done a review on The Dark Tower books before, but this will be my fifth time reading the series and I'm going to take my time and give each book the review I think it deserves.

The Gunslinger, the first book in the series is a delightful read which reminds me of The Hobbit; in terms of simplicity and comfort.

A lot of people dislike the first book, but me personally - I love it. Like I said, it's simple and I consider it one of my comfort reads.

It's split into sections, which I'll lay o
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

And our BR gang followed the gunslinger as he tracked the devil, and when he paused to relax and make camp, he told stories of his latest gunfight, his old world, his childhood training and the tests he went through to become a gunslinger... and we just followed him, you know, like these flamingos!

King has masterfully created a unique world that integrates fantasy genre with American old west: A mysterious world th
This book is something of an oddity. That being, the first time I read it, I would probably have given it 3-stars, and felt quite generous doing so. It was really "meh" and though I was a King fan, I wasn't pleased with it after the hype. I even delayed reading Book 2 for awhile because I was somewhat turned off. I didn't hate it, but it left me ambivalent for the most part.

But this is definitely a book that gets better with time, with re-readings, and with the rest of the series. The second tim
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Blake Crouch
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just could not get into this book. Did not know what was going on half of the time. There were a few good things about this book but other than that, i did not like it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Anyone else reading The Dark Tower series for the first time? 46 374 Dec 11, 2021 06:52AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus
  • The Gunslinger Born (The Dark Tower: Graphic Novel, #1)
  • The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King - Summary & Study Guide
  • Thinner
  • The Running Man
  • American Gods (American Gods, #1)
  • The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1
  • The Long Walk
  • The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1)
  • Dune (Dune, #1)
  • A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
  • The Stand: Captain Trips
  • The Regulators
  • Roadwork
  • The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)
  • Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Other books in the series

The Dark Tower (8 books)
  • The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower, #2)
  • The Waste Lands (The Dark Tower, #3)
  • Wizard and Glass (The Dark Tower, #4)
  • The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower, #4.5)
  • Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower, #5)
  • Song of Susannah (The Dark Tower, #6)
  • The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, #7)

Articles featuring this book

Dragons, demons, kings, queens, and the occasional farm boy (with a special destiny, of course): Fantasy literature has it all! To celebrate...
508 likes · 292 comments
“Go then, there are other worlds than these.” 2247 likes
“I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my eye.

I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my mind.

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.”
More quotes…