If you are au fait with Stephen King’s the Dark Tower series, you
can stop reading this right away. Be informed that there is a new paperback
edition of the seventh and final volume hitting the shelves. I have to
say, however, that I have overlooked this series, and for such a fan of
fiction, this is akin to a mountaineer confessing he has not heard of the
Stephen King’s Dark Tower epic has been about 24 years in the making,
runs to several thousand pages of print in seven fat volumes. Apart from
the sheer volume of paper involved here, this is a prodigious work of imagination.
Back in the days of hippies and Woodstock when everyone was reading Lord
of the Rings and believed themselves to actually be Gandalf, the 19-year-old
King decided he would quite like to write an epic fantasy, but not like
Tolkein’s. Obviously not. No, it would have to be King’s kind
of fantasy. If this wasn’t enough hubris for a young fellow, a few
years later, while watching Sergio Leone’s The Good the Bad and the
Ugly, King decided that he wanted to write a fantasy epic with cowboys.
So in the Dark Tower series you have magic, alternative realities, time
travel, whacky technologies, fantastic beasts and cowboys. No, I mock not,
because if there is one writer in the (real) world who can pull this off,
it is Stephen King.
Although conceived early on in the man’s career, it was quite some
time before he started work on the series. The project from its inception
to it’s completion has taken him from bouncy young thing to the cusp
of old age (and the infirmity caused by a road accident) and volume seven
is filled with presentiments of a ‘retirement’, announced in
2002, that has seen him busier than most working writers.
Kansai Scene, June 2006
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