Long days and pleasant nights: On King’s “The Dark Tower”

How did I end up reading The Dark Tower?

Ka.

darktower

The Dark Tower is a 7-book series by Stephen King, the master of the macabre. Known for his horror stories, he treads new ground with this fantasy story of Roland Deschain and his eponymous quest for the mysterious Dark Tower. In this tale, the world is one that has “moved on” and Roland is the last of a long line of revolver-wielding knights called gunslingers.

A reader of mostly history, politics, and non-fiction, I am an unlikely candidate for Roland’s ka-tet (fancy term in the series, look it up). Yet, the economic crunch forced me to do some belt-tightening and the number of new books I’ve bought over the past year drastically decreased. Not to my regret, I have been forced to dig deeper and read all those books I never finished. Chief among them was Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Was.

I made a bet with myself. I wouldn’t buy a single new book until I finished the monolithic volume and read of Frodo’s quest from the source itself. I’ve attempted it several times in the past but I never saw it through. I figured this was a good way to save up too, since I didn’t foresee finishing the book for quite a while. But alas, as fortuitous events would have it, a two-week break was declared due to an outbreak of AH1N1, giving me enough time to journey from Hobbitton to Mordor, and back.

Not too long I was aching for something new to read. Remarkably, I was craving for fiction. I wasn’t too excited to go back to reading about Iran, globalization, a new theory about the rise and fall of states, and a bevy of other pretentious topics. Middle Earth converted me into a believer of fantasy. Now it was a matter of which world I wanted to go to next.

Around that time, with all the fanfare surrounding the new Star Trek film, I recommended Fringe and LOST to a friend who was just about to begin his addiction to torrented TV. As forays into these shows often lead me to, I looked up interviews with JJ Abrams for insight into what the next Star Trek film would be. Then he talked about something else.

“We’ll be working on The Dark Tower,” he said. And by we he referred to two friends, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse — two names I know very well. They are the current showrunners of LOST.

I worship that show.

So I looked up The Dark Tower. All I knew then was that it was written by Stephen King and spanned several books. Upon further Googling, I discovered that King himself is a fan of LOST. With the stars aligned and my Tolkien pact fulfilled, I picked up the first new book I’ve bought in a while, The Gunslinger by Stephen King. It’s book one. The beginning. And in his introduction, he wrote that this is a story that he began at the ambitious age of 19. Then he set out to write his own magnum opus; his own Lord of the Rings.

Well, what do you know.

Tolkien begets Tolkien.

There is no other way to explain that than with two letters.

Ka.

In the lore of The Dark Tower, ka means destiny and a whole lot more. It is both reason and unreason, logic and illogic. It is the principle, a wheel, that keeps existence moving along.

So when the seventh book ended the way it did, I was overpowered with no other impulse than to read the entire series again. I agree with King; it is the only ending to the story.

(Intrigued? Read it.)

In lieu of writing a review that spoils the journey for everyone else, I saw it fitting to recount my own journey to the Tower. It is finished and it is also beginning.

It is ka.

Thankee big big, sai King. We are well met.

Long days and pleasant nights.

roland
Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger
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3 Comments

  1. Great post. I had always scoffed at Stephen King fans (my own arrogance of youth), and when a friend told me the ending of the DT series I laughed. However, I eventually picked-up The Gunslinger for a flight and I am proud to say that I was horribly wrong in my judgement.

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