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The Dark Tower v.7 - Stephen King

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Author: Stephen King / Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy

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      13.01.2014 14:35
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      A classic

      The Dark Tower is the final novel in the Gunslinger series of novels by Stephen King (aside from the recent standalone novel), in this book we accompany Roland Deschain to the Dark Tower. This is the final book in a series of books which began in the 1970's and was finished in 2004.

      Stephen King
      Stephen king is one of the best known authors currently writing, his novels have been cornerstones of horror and supernatural genre since the early 70's. His books have been turned into films (The Shining, Green Mile, Carries, Misery) or TV productions such as Under the Dome or The Tommyknockers.

      The Dark Tower
      This is the seventh book in the series which tells of the journey of the last gunslinger Roland Deschain as he journeys to find the Dark Tower, along the way he has gained a posse from different time-points of a modern New York City. At the beginning of this novel, Susanna is pregnant with Roland's/the demon on the train from an earlier novel and Roland is travelling with Eddie a former drug user, Jake a boy he killed in the first novel but then re-found from an earlier period of Jakes life and Oy a kind of odd dog/weasel animal from mid-world. The previous novel ended with the realisation that the way to the Dark Tower is controlled by the growth of a wild rose on a desolate building site in New York, with this realisation and the imminent birth of Susanna's child we begin the long final journey.

      I've been reading these novels over the last calendar year so the long-time gap wasn't an issue for me, there is a substantial gap between the fourth and fifth novels and during that period Stephen King suffered a serious car accident and nearly died. However, in this novel Stephen King uses that brush with death to explain the long gap and uses the accident as a prop to explain parts of Roland's journey.

      This novel being the last has the awkward task any last book must have of tying up loose ends and bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion, we know at the beginning that Susanna's child is going to be a monster so when it is born and turns into a kind of human/spider combination that its birth will be the start and its presence will give pace and focus for this book. The child is called Mordred and Stephen King tries to link him to the legends of Arthur with Roland the child's aim, as the story unfolds it will be used as a shock element because it kills in both dark and horrifying ways.

      This is the end and as the book progresses we finish certain storylines and begin others, Eddie, Jakes, Susanna and Oy's stories all come to a conclusion before the very end. This book is the last and was probably my favourite in the series, there is a pace to the story that doesn't let up, and there are the chapters over saving Stephen king's life, the presence of Mordred and the final walk of Roland to the Dark Tower and his final battle with the Crimson King. The ending well its suitably complex and I thought it was fitting. There are gunfights, love scenes, scenes of supernatural horror, humour and an increasingly complex web of stories but throughout there is the presence of the last gunslinger the hero of the stories Roland, he gives the stories a bleak humour but the reader is always on his side despite being a hard edged complex character.

      This was a great finish to one of the best multi book series of sci-fi/fantasy novels and the only reason I didn't start from the beginning again and read them all through again is the sheer weight of pages that would involve but maybe in a year or two I'll re-read them and spot all the complex web of storylines I missed the first time around.

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        10.12.2010 11:29
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        The final book of The Dark Tower series......

        The Dark Tower is the final volume in Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series which brings everything to a (kind of) tidy close whilst still managing to leave the reader with almost as many questions as they have answers!

        Roland and his Ka-Tet have reached the final leg of their destination and are closer than ever to reaching the fabled Dark Tower that lies at the centre of all existence but they still have a long way to go! First they must save Susannah from the hands of the enemy as she gives birth to a demon-child that is the offspring of both Roland and an ill-natured Spirit and then they have to face the Breakers; a group of psychics who have been brought together with the sole intention of destroying the Beams that hold up all reality!

        Neither task is easy and both have their cost and in the end only one thing is certain: not all the Ka-Tet will live to see their final destination! Before The Dark Tower is reached, Roland will once more have to face the thought of reaching it alone; something that has almost been prophecised since the day his quest first began....

        Many have commented that this is their least favourite of the series and that it feels rushed and forced towards its climax but I would disagree! I actually quite enjoyed this and found it a very satisfying end to a long-followed and much critically acclaimed series and loved the links to other works of Stephen King such as Insomnia, IT and Hearts Of Atlantis!

        To discuss its plot in depth would give too much away, needless to say this is a book that must be experienced to be believed though it goes without saying that those who have not read the previous six volumes will be left lost and confused!

        Things I did not like about the book and which fans can look to expect include the final moments of arch villan, Flagg; the inclusion of Stephen King himself in an important role as a Deus Ex Machina; and the final few pages. But, in regard to the latter, King gives us an option.....the book comes to a close and then we, the reader, are given a choice: we can either go forward and discover what Roland finds at the top of The Tower or leave it ambiguous and end on a high! Of course, this is not really a proper choice just as the decision to open Pandora's Box was not really open to debate but I, like many before me no doubt, almost wish I had left everything alone and not satisfied my curiosity! Whether or not you feel the same is up to you to discover.....

        Of course, this is not really the end.....references in a much subtler form continue to pepper King's more recent work and an eighth volume set between books four and five is due out sometime in the next two years after a sequel to The Shining has been released. But for now, it is time to bid a fond adieu to Roland of Gilead and my last thoughts are that we were well met indeed!

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          10.02.2010 17:23
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          Roland and his companions are finally on the last leg of their journey.

          SUMMARY:

          In the final instalment of Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower' series, Susannah, who was in the process of giving birth in the last book [before Stephen King interrupted the process with the incongruous insertion of pages best left in is his own 'personal diary'], has been separated from her alter-ego, Mia, and she watches in horror as Mia gives birth.

          Meanwhile, Jake, Oy and Pere Callahan are surrounded by vampires and other hellish creatures who plan on snacking on them before the main course [Susannah] is served. 1999 just isn't a good year for them...

          Back in 1977, having somewhat managed to convince Stephen King that they aren't just figments of his imagination, and that he must resume his work on 'The Dark Tower', Eddie and Roland, who are impatient to make it back to Susannah before something terrible happens to her, realise that this might be their only chance to foil the attempts of the Sombra Corporation to destroy not only humanity, but the universe itself.

          Calling upon John Cullum [who helped them in the previous book], they devise a plan to create a corporation, one as powerful as the Sombra Corporation [owned by the Crimson King], that will work against the latter in order to save the universe... ahem...

          Secure in the knowledge that John Cullum will be working with them in the time and dimension they find themselves in, Eddie and Roland manage to find a way back to 1999 where Susannah, Jake, Oy and Pere Callahan have been transported.

          Although the gang is eventually reunited, they cannot, however, resume their quest to find the tower; not until they've secured the two final beams that hold the tower up. In order to do so, they must find a way to 'Thunderclap', a city surrounded by darkness, where human telepaths are held captive and coerced into turning their energy against the invisible 'beams' that hold up the tower.

          DARK TOWER DICTIONARY:

          Rose - a single wild rose that grows in an abandoned lot in the centre of New York City. This rose possesses a powerful energy that is, in this instance, a symbol for 'life' and 'hope'. This 'Rose', in Roland's dimension, can be found by the millions surrounding the 'Dark Tower'.

          Dark Tower - a slate black tower found only in Roland's world. The 'Dark Tower' has become Roland's obsession... he doesn't know what he'll find in the tower, but he won't stop until he's climbed to the top floor.

          Beams - invisible energy fields that hold the tower up, which, in turn, keeps the universe, including times and dimensions, from collapsing.

          Sombra Corporation - evil organisation belonging to the 'Crimson King' created in order to bring about the destruction of the universe.

          Crimson King - insane evil entity with supernatural powers that wants to destroy the universe in order to rule in darkness - makes no sense how anyone or anything can rule over 'nothingness', but I chalk this down to Stephen King's overactive, and not necessarily logical, imagination having taken a right turn onto 'Artistic License' [just south of 'Artistic Nonsense'].

          CHARACTERS:

          Roland of Gilead, legendary gunslinger, the last of his kind. Roland has been plagued his entire life with visions of the 'Dark Tower', and has become obsessed... an obsession that has led him astray more than once, and caused the death of all those he has loved. Surrounded by Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy, Roland has changed, he has mellowed - love will do that to a person. However, he remains obsessed with the tower, regardless that he knows, deep down, that he stands to once again lose all those he loves if he persists in his quest.

          Eddie Dean, ex-junkie, pulled through to Roland's world via a magical door. Contrary to Roland, whose obsession is with the 'Dark Tower', Eddie's obsession is with the 'Rose', a magnificent wild rose that grows in an abandoned lot in the centre of New York City, a 'Rose' that represents life itself... a 'Rose' that IS life. This 'Rose', multiplied by millions, surrounds the 'Dark Tower' in Roland's dimension, but in New York in 1977, the 'Rose' is solitary in an empty lot, and the Sombra Corporation want to destroy the 'Rose', which would plunge the world into darkness. The only way to save the 'Rose' is to own the abandoned lot, and to set up a corporation that will not only care for the 'Rose', but keep the Sombra Corporation from doing any real harm.

          Odetta Susannah Holmes, who goes under the name of Susannah, is Eddie's wife. She was pulled through to Roland's world by way of a magical door. Susannah suffers from a split personality disorder, but she has come to terms with it, and is able to control her other 'personality'. Although Susannah was plagued for a time by Mia, another personality, this issue was resolved in 'Song of Susannah' - Book VI. Susannah, although on the same quest to find the 'Dark Tower', is not actually obsessed with finding it. She is curious, and after everything she's been through, she feels she's earned the right to see it, but it's only curiosity. Susannah's relationship with Roland is as split as her own personalities, it is one of bitter resentment and unwavering love - when bad things happen she is quick to blame him, but she is also quick to acknowledge that if it weren't for him, she would never have met Eddie. The only thing that keeps Susannah going through the long days and nights is Eddie Dean, Jake, Oy and Roland. Not the 'Dark Tower' or even the 'Rose' [she's never seen either of these].

          Jake Chambers, Roland's adopted son, is only 12 years old but he's already an extraordinary gunslinger, and he possesses the 'touch', an uncanny ability to read people's minds. Jake, who has already died twice, knows that he will probably never make it to the 'Dark Tower'... nor get to 13 for that matter, but he doesn't ponder on the issue of his mortality. He knows that his mission in life, although he is accompanying Roland to the 'Dark Tower', is not to actually see the tower. If he was plucked from the darkness that is death and plunged into Roland's world, it was for Roland's sake, not his own.

          Oy, Jake's Billy Bumbler pal, is a furry creature that is a cross between a large squirrel and a dog. Oy, who was cast out by his own family because of his curiosity and his talkativeness, was taken in by Jake, and he is totally devoted to the boy.


          COMMENTS - OPINION:

          Although I finished reading 'The Dark Tower' - Book VII a few days ago, I was unable to do more than stare at the blank 'Word' document open in front of me. I finally decided that the only way I would be able to make up my mind as to whether or not I liked the final book... was to write about it. But before I 'comment' further, I want to thank pmcds [dooyoo member] for the note he sent me. In this note, he said: "It feels like the end of an era once you've finished the last one." He was, of course, talking about the final book in 'The Dark Tower' series, the one I am now attempting to review. I have to say, I reread that sentence more than once after receiving the message, not quite understanding the undercurrent, but it hit me the moment I read the last sentence in 'The Dark Tower' and put the book down for what will no doubt be the last time... yes indeed, it felt like an era had ended.

          It felt like more than an era actually... more like a lifetime!

          Although I had spent only a few hours every night over the course of four months reading book after book of Roland's adventures as he steadfastly made his way towards the 'Dark Tower', it felt, once the final book in the series was read, as though I had just spent half my life wandering the wastelands, badlands, white lands, and every other cursed land found in Roland's cursed world. Yes, it was all over... and I felt... emptiness.

          Regardless that a few of the books had been rubbish, and that some of them, although having started off well-enough had ended up being spoiled by Stephen King's tendency to waffle endlessly, spew drivel and lose the plot [not to mention that a few books didn't even have an ending], I felt a great sadness envelope me at the knowledge that Roland's adventures would continue without me.

          What makes it so hard to review this book is the fact that it is the last one in the series, and therefore cannot be judged as a single book because it ties up all the loose ends.

          Within 'The Dark Tower' - Book VII, Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and Oy are on their final leg of the journey that will end at the tower itself, but they have yet so much to accomplish. Susannah isn't the only one who needs to be saved... the 'Rose' is slowly dying in New York, the last two 'beams' holding up the 'Dark Tower' are about to break, Stephen King is scheduled to die after being hit by a drunk driver, and the end of all worlds, times and dimensions is imminent. In this, the final book of the series, the twists and turns are not all appreciated, and although the ending is not what would be expected, it is the only 'possible' ending - there can be no other.

          'The Dark Tower' possesses a bittersweet ending, one that, deep down, we might have expected... Stephen King rarely gives us the 'happily ever after'... but even so, it is a thought-provoking one that opens the door to endless possibilities.

          This final book in the series is filled choc-a-bloc with action as the gang battle vampires, demons and monsters, not to mention that the evil incarnation from 'It' makes an appearance [a previous novel by Stephen King]. The latter creature, the creepy clown/spider/whatever is not the only character to have ended up in 'The Dark Tower' series... most of Stephen King's prior books seem to have ended up in this series, from Pere Callahan [Salem's Lot] to Randall Flagg [The Stand].

          'The Dark Tower' series, although often frustrating, is incredibly imaginative. There are more villains and monsters than can be counted on one hand, and although Roland IS the hero of this series, he is not the hero of every book that takes us 'through' the series. In their own rights, Eddie, Susannah, Jake and even little Oy are all heroes... they possess strong characters, and their courage is absolute as they tackle the vilest of creatures.

          Although not all the books in the series are 'worthy' of the story itself, the final book brings everything together and Stephen King can be forgiven for wasting a few hours of our time along the way to The Dark Tower's extraordinary conclusion. However, that's not to say that I don't wish that all the unnecessary bits had been trashed... the series itself would have been a few books shorter, but what a great 'forward marching' story this would have made.

          I cannot, in all truth, judge this book all on its own... just as a reader cannot read only this book and understand the full story, therefore I have given it a 4-star rating taking into account the entire series, including even the worst books in the series.

          Would I read this series again? Probably not, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy this wonderfully dark and nightmarish series, far from it.

          Thankya sai for reading me... long days and pleasant nights to you all.

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            13.06.2009 09:16
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            Fantastic final volume to Stephen King's epic 7 volume saga

            'Will ya come farther with me?' asks Stephen King, posing the question at the end of each of the first 6 volumes of his epic 'The Dark Tower' saga. At the last time of offering, though, I was torn. I didn't want to embark on the 7th and final volume - it signified the beginning of the end....

            Let me first point out that, although you may enjoy it in places, it is nigh on impossible to read the 7th book without reading the first 6 and still understand what is going on. Really, it is highly advisable to read the other 6 in order, first, and to take your time doing so. I was introduced to 'The Dark Tower early in 2004, shortly after the birth of my son. I had always been reluctant to read Stephen King, as I wasn't a fan of horror novels. I was assured by the person who was kind enough to lend (and subsequently give) me the first volume, 'The Gunslinger', that this was different, and that it was King's epic saga, and well worth the read. I trusted him, and opened the first page to the words: 'The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.'

            From these words I was hooked! And here, I find myself having given in and going farther with King and his enigmatic hero, Roland of Gilead, on his quest for the Dark Tower. This seventh volume was the hardest to pick up and start, so keen was I to race through it, so eager to read that final page and find out how it all ends......if, indeed, it does.

            However, Stephen King himself says that the importance is in the development of the tale, the reading of every word on every page, and I agree. The tale itself has spanned thousands of pages up to this point, and throughout the previous 6 volumes, King has carefully painted his pictures, developed his characters and sucked us in. The 7th volume, aptly named 'The Dark Tower', starts off where the 6th left us, with Roland's ka-tet of heroes split up. As Jake and Father Callahan pursue Susannah with the intention of rescuing her from the vampires and low men threatening her and her baby, Roland and Eddie head towards Maine, seeking a doorway through to Susannah by other means.

            I feel that elaborating on the plot too much here could potentially spoil elements for those of you who are as drawn in as I was/am. I read no reviews, no summaries of this 7th volume, would hear nothing about it. In short, I wanted absolutely no prior knowledge of what happened in this book, so I forgive you for wanting the same, and completely understand if you are reading this to find out another's opinion after the fact, rather than reading it to find out what it may be like.

            However, for those of you reading to find out more, to understand another's opinion on whether it disappoints or not, you needn't worry about whether he has done the tale justice. 'The Dark Tower', all 7 volumes of it, strives towards one thing, and one thing only: the Tower itself, and Roland's quest to reach it and save it from the evil and (potentially) demonic Crimson King. The Tower is at the centre of all universes, the point at which all of the 'Beams' that maintain creation cross. In Roland's dedication to reach his goal, Stephen King makes things perfectly clear. Firstly, Roland's love for his 'ka-tet' (group of heroes, bonded by 'ka' (fate/destiny)) is a constant topic of elaboration for the author, and he impresses on us, lest we forget, this love on a very regular basis.

            Perhaps this is to strengthen the importance of Roland's quest. There are a multitude of occasions throughout the book (indeed the series of books) where the 'ka-tet' resign themselves, happily, to the fact that they must play second fiddle to this strange and mysterious Tower. But King does it in a way that makes the reader think the same thing - that reading the book has importance only in Roland reaching the Dark Tower, and our enjoyment of the book is nothing compared with this goal.

            Such is King's power. No matter what you say about the man, his writing style has a knack of drawing you in. It is absolutely ESSENTIAL to not rush things where he is concerned. I consider myself no King expert, as this is my only experience of his writing, but if this is an example of his style, then I know for sure that, not only is there a point to everything, but that it's worth savouring and remembering everything, as it will likely be referenced again later in the book, or the series.

            I feel that King has created a whole world, not just with this series, but with others I am aware of, mainly through the media of film. It is as if his literary world is a bit like he is Roland, his 'ka-tet' is his family and other close ones around him, and that the Dark Tower is some literary goal that is seemingly impossible to attain for him by putting pen to paper. Hopefully with the conclusion of this book, he has reached it.....

            As for Roland and the Tower, well.......I'm definitely not going to give anything away. For once, King's writing is very flowing and there is a lot less waffling than in his previous volumes. Indeed, Volume IV, Wizard and Glass, while relevant, is an entire book devoted to one of Roland's flashback tales. It is this style of storytelling (my way or the Highway!) that has irked King's readers before in the past, and I regularly see comments about his waffling, and how it annoys people. My advice is to stick with it, take your time, and just enjoy an immensely talented storyteller at work. To a certain extent, the man has let his imagination take him where it wants to, and has merely acted as the go between that holds the pen (or types with the computer!). I found myself taking my time with this book - I read it over the course of several weeks. Indeed, the whole saga has taken me 5 years to read.

            Perhaps the greatest strength of King's is his characterisation ability, the knack of creating characters that just seem SO vivid to me, every word like another pencil stroke like an extra addition to an already perfected sketch (say thankya Patrick Danville!), in a world that is packed full of sketches. The main characters have had the luck of being developed over the course of several books, and are now etched firmly into my mind, no doubt pictured differently to other fellow Tower-obsesses! Yet there is a way that King writes that allows us to associate just as easily with characters such as Ted and Dinky, with Morded and with Patrick, and similarly with characters in previous volumes. Their mannerisms are described in more detail than their physical appearance, and it is in this way that we form a picture of them in our minds.

            The plot somewhat hurtles towards the end. The buildup features some of the usual drawn out and descriptive chapters, with deliberate pauses at each stage along the journey for Roland, no matter his companions at the time. But the end, once we near it, seems rather rushed. Having said that, there are still a good 100 or so pages to feature it, but it would have come as no shock to me to find there was an 8th volume to document the final stages of the quest. As it is, perhaps the speed I felt was nothing more than my own desperation to reach the final stages and to know the ending as he wrote it. In a bit of a compassionate and pleading sense, he gives us, as the readers, the choice to finish a little early, providing a perfectly acceptable end before then offering us the option, and then continuing.

            And indeed, this has been the style of his saga throughout its 7 volumes: the link with the reader. He has constantly given us the feeling that here is a human being writing his life's work, his magnum opus, and he wants as many of us to share in the joy of writing it as much as the joy of reading it. It is rather fitting that he once more flicks to talking to us as readers before approaching his own final literary stage. It must have been immensely sad (as well as an immense relief, if you believe his occasional whinges!) to put the last word on the page, and I have to say, the ending will annoy some, make others shake their heads in amazement, and then it will also make you smile and nod, confirming a sneaking suspicion that something like that would be the end, le fin, das Ende.

            As ever, there are nods to some of King's other novels, such as 'Insomnia', 'Salem's Lot', and 'Hearts in Atlantis'. Fans of his other books are likely to find a cross-correlation with characters, places and events, and no doubt will find hidden meanings and in-jokes throughout the 7 volumes. There are also nods to Clint Eastwood's The Man With No Name, on whom Roland is based, as well as the Robert Browning poem, 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came', which was the basis for the whole premise. The poem is included as an Appendix at the back of this 7th volume. And, of course, King makes no secret about the fact that much of his inspiration comes from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, which first inspired him as a young adult to write an epic saga. The fact that he waited years before starting is only to ensure he did not just rewrite Lord of the Rings: it had to have been his own work, not that of Tolkien's, reworded.

            And so, for me, my own literary journey with Roland and his 'ka-tet' has reached its own ending with the conclusion of the 7th volume. Sorely tempted though I am to start all over again (!!) this is not something feasible for me. No doubt I will muse over the saga on occasion, and will turn to my 7 well-thumbed volumes to refresh my memory on something, but reading them all over again may alter my perception, and this is something I would like to keep a hold of, do it please ya! 'The Dark Tower', the 7th and final volume of Stephen King's magnum opus, retails at £6.99. I obtained it online for about £5. I shall now put it back on the shelf, in its rightful place after the other 6. And what about you? Will you come a little farther? Will ya? Or are you yet to begin the quest with Roland? If that is the case, then I envy you - you really are in for a treat......

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              22.10.2008 17:52

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              read it now, it is a good end!

              A rather interesting idea. Right near the end King asks you not to read the ending!
              He hates endings, and I often feel his endings are not great. So in this book he says, we came for the journey and not the ending!
              In this case it is true. The journey is the important bit, not the ending. Don't rush through this book to get to the ending, relish every page.

              PLOT
              The crew is reunited and we finally meet 'the breakers' the people who have been working to destroy the beams holding the universe in place. Much of the book concerns the crew trying to stop them (with an appearance by Ted Brautigan from Hearts in Atlantis) the rest of the story follows the last mile, or rather more than one, on their long walk to the tower - oh of course to make it interesting they are being chased by something rather nasty!

              SUMMARY
              A good ending. The book was good and story great. Expect some sadness in the book, which contains a lot of death. I was a little disappointed with the end of the book, which is why I say, enjoy the journey and don't rush to the end!

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              30.08.2008 18:56
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              So doe's he make it or not?!!?

              The Dark Tower is the final book in Stephen King's epic Dark Tower Series, and what a finale, The story begins where book six finished with the ka-tet split, Eddie & Roland are still in Maine whilst Jake & Father Callahan are stuck in a room of Vampires and low-men in New York searching for Susannah, Susannah meanwhile has been taken back to Fedic to give birth to the son of the Crimson King or is that the son of Roland, somehow the child belongs to both...

              Although this book is fairly long the story continues at a brisk pace and for once King doesn't seem to spend to long describing every little detail leaving a little for the readers imagination to deal with. As with the whole Dark Tower Series this final book is full of Twist's and Turns, Humour, joy and Tragedy (Well let's face it the whole ka-tet weren't gonna make to the tower with Roland - Question is how many will??? Or will Roland even make it himself?)

              King himself says this series is his "Lord of the Rings" and whilst it'll never be as good as Lord of the Rings it is a damn good read.

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                04.01.2006 23:07
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                A great end to an epic series.

                The story so far…

                Roland of Gilead the last in a long and revered line of true Gunslingers is finally nearing the end of his quest to reach The Dark Tower and save it from The Crimson King. If he fails The Dark Tower is destroyed all worlds will crumble. As Roland and Eddie Dean, former heroin addict and now a Gunslinger in his own right edge toward the tower their friends Jake and Father Callahan are heading for a showdown with a group of vampires Callahan knows only to well. Will they succeed in defeating them to save Eddie's wife Susannah from the demon child to whom she is about to give birth?

                "The Dark Tower" is the seventh and final instalment of Stephen King's Dark Tower series. In this final outing we finally discover whether Roland is to be successful in his seemingly endless quest and what losses he and his group must suffer and endure along the way. As with all the Dark Tower series this is a westernised slice of fantasy fiction. This series is considered to be Stephen King's Magnum Opus and it is unsurprising that this instalment is the lengthiest at a mammoth 702 pages. You will not be surprised to hear that this is not a standalone novel and indeed I would urge you not to buy this novel without prior knowledge of the series. In order to appreciate this novel knowledge of all six previous books is essential. In fact, throughout the series there have been references to other books by Stephen King and the characters within. This is such a dominant feature of "The Dark Tower" I would suggest to understand the series and in particular this outing you would need to have knowledge of and be a fan of his previous works. Writings such as "Insomnia", "Desperation" and "Hearts in Atlantis are referred to among others. It is a testament to King's skill as a writer that these books all have a place in Roland's world.

                Of course the most important thing about "The Dark Tower" to followers of the series will be how King pulls the various plotlines together and whether he surprises us as readers along the way. Prepare to be truly surprised as "The Dark Tower" is filled with more twists and turns for our favourite gunslingers than all the previous novels combined. In an effort to throw us of the scent King supplies scenario after scenario of excitement from Susannah's birth to "The Dark Tower" itself nothing is how it appears. King by closing the series was bound to be on a hiding to nothing as however it ended readers would be dissatisfied. Fortunately, there is a definite feeling of closure tinged with sadness at what for me feels like the end of a road that I have travelled with Roland and his "ka-tet" for so long.

                Roland is such a great character by King, so flawed and tragic yet noble that his journey became my journey, his losses my own. So realised is he that his fate and that of his followers becomes real. Roland's rag tag bunch of misfits have held me under their spell for so long that "The Dark Tower" for me is an emotional read that actually made me cry in places. Despite its size the climax to the series reads in no time at all as King elaborates with marvellous imagery the post-apocalyptic feel of Roland's mid-world and describes the epic feeling of "The Dark Tower" itself.

                Needless to say this novel is not perfect but nothing King could have written would have been. At times the characters that seemed so important in previous outings seem trivialised by King and his concentration on Roland and "The Dark Tower" itself means other areas are lacking. Much has been made of King's decision to include himself in this series and he does seem to give himself a somewhat inflated role. Also, despite its size this novel almost feels rushed and as a fan I feel perhaps the action packed into this final episode could have easily filled an eighth. Nonetheless, this is a fitting conclusion to an epic series that for me is as close to a modern day Lord of the Rings in terms of imagination and scope as you will find. Add to this the fantastic drawings by the illustrator of the first book in the series "The Gunslinger" and what you have is a suitable conclusion to a series that everyone should try and read just to see how fantasy fiction should be written, with style, imagination and risk.

                Available in hardback for £25.00 (£18.99 at Play.com)
                Recently released in paperback for £14.99 (£8.99 at Amazon UK)
                ISBN: 034082722X

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              • Product Details

                The triumphant, gripping finale to Stephen King's magnificent, epic masterpiece - now available in trade paperback The final volume sees gunslinger Roland on a roller-coaster mix of exhilarating triumph and aching loss in his unrelenting quest to reach the dark tower. A journey which means he must leave his faithful friends Eddie, Susannah, Jake, even Oy, as he closes on the Tower. His steps are followed only by Mordred, half-human, half-terrifying creature heir to the Crimson King. In the end, it is an unlikely ally who will hold to key to the Tower itself, centre of all time and all place.