Despite being a self-confessed ‘book tart’, willing to give almost anything a try, I have read very little of the perennially popular Stephen King. Some of his books are older than I am, and he’s still churning them out with unnerving regularity.
So, where to start on my month’s (or so) adventure? I read Carrie about a year ago; The Green Mile a few years before that, having enjoyed the film. I don’t like horror, although am happy to be thrilled or chilled at least a little.
I thought I’d start with his magnum opus: The Dark Tower. I’m not a natural reader of fantasy but I can see the power of a good storyteller and an absorbing world; both of which were clear from the first few pages.
Like a skilled chef, King assembles an array of ingredients to whisk and blend together to create a uniquely flavoured and filling feast. Pulling together elements from Spaghetti Westerns, to Lord of the Rings, to classic Fantasy iconography and Arthurian legend. And then of course, the ‘meat’ is the questing knight of Browning’s epic poem from 1855. Starting a large series of novels mid story was a brave move but it’s intriguing; who is Roland the Gunslinger? Where and when is this alternatiVe world? What is the Dark Tower? Why does Roland have to reach it? Will he? And why do I find myself caring?
Having read the first two parts this month, I will now pause in the quest, leaving 6 further episodes for another time. I am now invested into Roland’s quest; I like Eddie and Odetta/Susannah and share their disorientation; i am concerned for Jake who’s made a cameo reappearance. And, of course, I am keeping an eye out for the Man in Black, although the lobstrosities make me feel quite sick! Whatever the Dark Tower might be, it’s drawing me to itself.
To my surprise, King has shown himself to be a master storyteller, unafraid to draw upon many sources and themes, and write an unashamedly good adventure story.
If you already knew that, where should I go next? Under The Dome is coming on holiday with us; I hope it will not disappoint.