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As an ardent fan of both Marvel and Stephen King's The Dark Tower, it was only a matter of time before I delved into one of the collaborative graphic novels that have been written based on a historical element of the original seven books. Fans of King's magnum opus will know of the historical element, as we see hero Roland Deschain's flashbacks to a time where he and his two best friends were young and living in their home place of Gilead.
This particular novel, The Fall of Gilead, leaves no secrets in its title, and so some of the surprise is yanked out of the tale before you've even opened the front cover. However, this shouldn't put you off as the tale and how it all comes about is told in riveting fashion. At the helm of its creation is Robin Furth, employed by Stephen King to compile a list of all things Dark Tower based. With this knowledge, she is surely well placed to create this series - indeed the write up about her in the back of the novel suggests she may even know more about The Dark Tower than King himself!
She is joined by Peter David, one of Marvel's most celebrated writers, and what results is a cleverly presented description of historical saga, told largely through the words rather than the artwork and visuals. We pick up the tale as young Roland, deceived by Marten, the man who would become a nemesis in the seven books, finds his mother's death lying at his hands. Thus begins a stream of events as the evil John Farson prepares to wage war on the walls of Gilead. We see treachery from within, sorcery, gunslinging and character interaction as the tale progresses, with initial difficulty in discerning between the characters resulting in clarity by the end.
On this note, the artwork is heavily intense and full of shadows. This was the main reason it was hard to work out who was who exactly at the beginning, but the shadows certainly served to do their job in terms of the state of affairs at the time in the tale, as if a permanent cloud was hanging over each character. What I liked was the glossy look to each frame, whether the mood was high or low, and this gave it a feeling of respect and intensity that it deserved.
Personally for me, it was nice to see some tale with little mentioned characters from the seven books, such as Roland's father and his ka-tet (group of gunslingers), as well as Roland's own original ka-tet of his best friends Alain and Cuthbert. Mentions of his mentor and trainer Cort, hard as nails, and of Vannay, as well as some of those on the villains' side, were also quite nice to have as a solid base to add to the memories of reading the seven. I found having prior knowledge did help in understanding the concept of Gilead, the characters, a gunslinger and also the nature of the enemy. If I didn't have this then it may have been less clear and therefore less entertaining, although it's essentially a strange mix of western, fantasy and the occasional strange inclusion of modernity for good measure. That remains the same.
Overall, this graphic novel has whetted my appetite to seek out the rest in the series. I borrowed it from the local library, so did not part with any money for it, although if you wanted to then it's available, in hardback, for £18.99, or thereabouts. Recommended.
This is the penultimate novel in Marvel's first series of Dark Tower adaptations and recounts events that have long been talked around and hinted at in Stephen King's novels but never ever witnessed before...until now!
Roland awakens from being under the spell of Maerlyn's Grapefruit only to find that he has committed the ultimate act of Marten's revenge against the Gunslingers and Knights Of Eld and, against the better wishes of his father, now faces the Gallows. But this is just the beginning.....
Cort, Roland's old mentor, also falls into a trap of Marten's doing and soon lies on death's door with only a lingering and painful demise scheduled on his horizon! Stephen's Ka-Tet loses one of its number to Slow Mutants when his men are betrayed and everything starts to build up to a climax not destined to have any happy ending!
Like with Titanic, fans have a pretty good idea how all this is going to end and its not going to be pretty! There is a strong reason why this book is called The Fall Of Gilead and so there are little surprises except in how quickly it all comes about! Once again, the artwork is intense and some of the best I have seen in a graphic novel and this work does nothing but compliment the original Stephen King source material!
If you are a fan of The Dark Tower, then your collection is not complete without these novels! These build up a strong back-history to all that occurs in Stephen King's epic series and are essential reading!