I love this series. Since I read the first book, I’ve fallen in love with Roland, the last gunslinger, and the world around him. The first book follows him as he tries to track down the man in black, meeting a young boy, Jake, on the way, who, it turns out, is from New York, but was killed by being pushed into the street. In the second book, Roland entices two people from very different times to join him on his quest. In the third book, The Waste Lands, they head towards a city that seems to have suffered from a nuclear war. But before that, Susannah and Eddie must take on board the lessons taught to them by Roland, and in New York, Jake struggles with conflicting identities, one which tells him he is alive and the other telling him he should be dead and in a totally different world.
The characters really come alive on the page, something I think King has always been good at. It’s clear that this is a world Roland knows a lot about, but doesn’t know everything. Then there’s Susannah and Eddie, both characters who are new to this world and trying to come to terms with how different it is from home. When Jake comes back, he slots in like he’s supposed to, and there’s the very real sense that they all belong to the world that Roland is from.
The settings, too, work brilliantly, with the contrast between nature and manmade robots that roam through the lands. King’s descriptions of everything, even the stuff that would be completely foreign to us, make it feel like we’re travelling through the world with the characters. And once they reach the city, we get drawn in even more, following them through mazes of booby-trapped trash and meeting a very strange, crazy train.
There are, of course, elements of horror too. It’s something King plays on very well, as he plunges the characters into situations they seemingly won’t be able to get out of. The ending leaves with the stakes high, and the possibility of all the characters heading towards their deaths. He uses it to mix in very well with the fantasy elements, letting us know that this isn’t a light and fluffy tale of people on a quest. There is a lot more at stake here, and it makes the book very engrossing.
So far, this is a brilliant series, and I would strongly recommend picking it up if you have any interest in King or quest type fantasies.