Tuesday 14 June 2016

Devouring Stephen King: The Dark Tower VII- The Dark Tower

There are no words for how happy I am to be done with The Dark Tower books in my Stephen King reading journey. This isn't because they are bad books- on the contrary, they're some of my favourites- but simply because they have taken SO long. I envisioned reading all three of the final books in the summer of 2014, before starting the Shakespeareathon that engulfed my whole life, but it didn't happen, and I consequently felt like I was always in the middle of a Dark Tower book, mainly because I was. Their lack of portability and complex storylines did not make for easy reading, and having blown through all seven in a month when I first read them, reading them spread out over what turned out to be almost FIVE YEARS was a really different experience.

Because it had taken me so long to read all seven of the books, I expected my reaction to this, the final book, to be completely different to the last time I read it. Reading all seven books consecutively whilst also being unemployed had led to an excessive (and probably unhealthy) attachment to all the characters, and I can remember being destroyed numerous times throughout this last one. I thought I'd be ok this time because of the passage of time (... or something) but, in fact, I was very not ok. It was a relief, in a lot of ways, to realise that I did still love these characters, in spite of being frustrated with how long the books were taking to finish, and that I could still get emotional about... certain events in this book that I'm definitely not going to elaborate on.

The Dark Tower just works. As a final novel in a series, it is perfect, and its perfection begins with the reunion of Roland and his team of gunslingers within the first 100 or so pages of the book. If it took too long for any kind of event at all to happen in Song of Susannah, then The Dark Tower makes up for this completely. This book moves between events, locations, and even worlds (oh yes) at breakneck speed, barely giving the reader time to process, and it's fantastic. It's pretty much everything I want all of the series to be, and probably the reason I idealise the rest of the Dark Tower books- I remember them all being as good as the last one, and the last one is (probably) the best.

Of course I've been coy about the content, because LIKE I'm going to ruin an entire book series for you by telling you the ending! I will say that upon first reading, I was truly surprised by it (hence my avoiding spoilers now!) and maybe a little mad, but I see now that, really, it's the only fitting ending. Or, at the very least, I can't imagine a better one. I really have very few criticisms for this book, because although sometimes devastating, it also feels true and right.

And with that, my return to the Dark Tower is over. That I am both a little sad and pretty relieved doesn't surprise me, because damn I love these books, but DAMN that took so long. And that's not just the practically two years (!) it took to read the last three books, but the practically (I'll say it again) FIVE years (!!!) it took to read all seven. I'm so excited to finally read something else by King that I'm already halfway through The Colorado Kid (it's very portable) and I'm especially excited that there's another Dark Tower book waiting for me in the not-too-distant future. I didn't have the promise of more tales of Roland's ka-tet the last time I finished this book, but I'm very glad I have one to look forward to now.

But, for the moment, I'm moving on to A Game of Thrones. Wish me luck..?

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