Warning: Possible spoilers below:

The Gunslinger is the first book in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. He tells the story of Roland, a gunslinger from the inner baronies (Gilead actually), who embarks on a quest to find the Dark Tower. He decides on this quest after finding a piece of the Wizard's Rainbow in Hambry (see Wizard and Glass).
During Roland's quest, as he chases the Man in Black, he encounters Jake, a young boy from New York who finds himself in the Gunslinger's world after being pushed in front of a car and dying. Roland and Jake set out after the Man in Black together until Jake is killed once again, this time by the Gunslinger himself. Jake's final words to Roland are "Go then, there are other worlds than these".
Roland continues west and eventually meets up with the Man in Black who, during a long palaver, foretells that Roland will draw three companions to help him on his continuing journey toward the Dark Tower.

 

Spoilers, Spoilers and More Spoilers...you have been warned.

 

To start off, I would like to say I believe that the only way to really appreciate the awesome-ness that is Stephen King's Dark Tower series is to read it though once and then read it again. The second go round for me, so far, has been so much better than the first because now I know the big secret: that Roland Deschain is stuck in what seems to be a never-ending loop and that once he reaches the Tower he is sent back to where the first book in the series begins. Knowing this mind-blowing fact, a fact that literally caused me to scream "Oh fuck you Stephen King!" at the final page when I first read it, makes rereading the series a whole new experience.

I recently decided to start rereading the series and just finished The Gunslinger, Just like with my first reading, I loved the basic story since it has an interesting combination of Old West (gunslingers, rundown western style towns), medieval (the twist on the whole King Arthur legends) and science fiction (all the references to modern day conveniences that are from the "Old people" and have become ancient relics). I really enjoy the odd juxtapostion of these things that don't seem like they would work together. It's always fun to find all the roundabout references to our world but now there's even more to find. Now I'm not sure if my revelations about this book in connection with the big secret are as exciting for anybody else as they are for me, considering the first time I read this I was in seventh grade so it's not like I was looking for literary connections but I would like to think they are.

One of the main things that I've loved about rereading this book is picking out what I think of as the " deja vu moments". There are all these moments in the book where Roland has a feeling that something isn't quite right. For example at one point he is musing about how easy it was for him to bond with Jake, he chalks it up to the fact that the Man in Black left Jake as a trap. While this basic premise is true, I think it's because not only has he bonded with Jake before, when Jake returns to Mid-World later in the series, he ultimately sees the boy as his son. If you consider the fact that, due to the big secret, who knows how many times this whole process occurs, maybe his paternal feelings for Jake are starting to become ingrained deep in a part of his subconscious that doesn't get mind-wiped at the resumption point. Even Jake seems to be having these moments since he seems to know that Roland is going to kill him. He could just be a highly perceptive child, but I think some of it is due to the fact that this has happened before. It might also explain why he was so calm when he died. This could explain his comment about "There are other worlds than these", maybe he knew that his death was not the end and that he would be ok when all is said and done.

Another aspect that is closely related to the "deja vu moments" are the "future memory moments". I think this occurred once where he says "Sit yourself, Jake" when trying to get the boy to rest and then immediately tries to remember where he heard the phrase since it's not one of his own. He believes he might have heard it from his childhood love Susan Delagado but I think this is a reference to Susannah Dean, one of his future Ka-tet members. Another example is Jake knowing Roland's fire lighting rhyme without ever having heard it, an occurance that makes the gunslinger wonder how the boy came to know it. There is also the instance where Roland tells Jake they need to "palaver" and, not only does Jake understand this term which is most likely uncommon in his world, he seems almost fond of Roland's use of it. This could be in reference to all the talks, or palavers, Roland, Jake and the rest of their ka-tet have over the course of their quest for the Tower.

Finally, I like rereading this series now that I know what is going to happen because it allows me to not only truly understand the clues about what is coming, such as the descriptions of the Three that Roland will meet on his way to the Tower, this foreknowledge allows me to pick up threads that connect to points later in the story that might otherwise have gone unoticed. One of the main ones that I caught this time around was on the very first page where it said "Resumption". This is there because this is the reboot point of Roland's never ending cycle. The other big thing I noticed was Nineteen. Later on in the story Nineteen becomes a big omen for anything to do with the Tower but I forgot that it was mentioned in the beginning as well. Nineteen is the word the Man in Black gives Allie the bartender to torture her remotely into asking the resurrected Nort about what happened after he died. And when Allie does eventually fall into the trap to use the trigger word, it causes her to go mad with this forbidden knowledge. Roland subconciously thinks of it as going to "the land of Nineteen", like he knows that this number has some sort of significance beyond being the Man in Black's trigger word for Nort.

So all in all I can't wait to keep on with my second go at The Dark Tower series now that I've finished The Gunslinger. I hope that rereading The Drawing of the Three will be just as interesting. It most likely will since the first time I read it, I had to read quickly since I had a very very limited time to read it but I guess I'll just have to find out.

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