The Dark Tower by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Well the journey has come to the end, and what a journey it was. I loved this series from start to finish. The characters grew on me that they did and I became invested whole heartedly, much like I did with the Harry Potter series. King crafted a masterpiece all the way up to the last paragraph.
It’s hard not to reveal any spoilers to this series so if you have not read it yet I highly recommend stopping here, so as not to ruin any surprises along the way.
When I got to the end, before the epilogue, I was a bit miffed as it seems the story of Roland closed with the booming door. I so wanted to see what was at the top of the Tower before going on to the finale of Susannah’s story.
Susannah’s reuninion with Eddie and Jake was touching and a well fit for the story. Their deaths were not at all diminished by this ending. I was saddened that Oy was not present for this but the Coda hinted at his rebirth too. As Susannah’s memories of her gunslinger days started to fade I felt relieved at the closing of this epilogue.
The coda poses a challenge to the reader to stop there, enjoy this bit of respite and leave the mystery of Roland’s quest to end on a positive note. He made it to the Dark Tower, Susannah is back with her family, isn’t that enough? Do you the reader tempt fate and risk shattering this quiet ending? Or do you read on with the risk that this fairy tale may not end happily ever after, for did King say no story ever ends “happily ever after?”
I admit, I was almost willing to stop there, leave the last few steps of the journey shrouded in hopes that what transpired in the Tower was beyond the ken of the human mind and transcended life as we knew it; but as is the case, temptation won me over and I bit from that apple of knowledge.
The build up to the final door was plodding but so perfect. The slow detailed meandering through the first days of Rolands life with each level of the tower. Each step he became an locomotive increasing speed as the years peeled away. Rushing headlong to the final level as relevant moments of his life flashed past, glimpsed through doors at each landing.
When he reaching that last door, his hand on the knob and turning it realized he could not stop. The walls that had closed in like coffin walls I half expected to complete the back and the door to become the lid and he to be finally laid to rest. But no, he was caught in the rush and realized at that moment as it all turned and twisted back on itself he had come full circle again. Roland had not redeemed himself yet and was pitched back out into the desert where he chased the fleeing man in black across the wastes.
I loved this ending, and it will stick with me for many years to come. It will haunt me like Vonnegut’s Kilgore Trout at the end of Breakfast whose wish it is to go back and do it all again. Trout’s life may have been mundane compared to Rolands, yet even that life to do again was so coveted. Roland’s though, is a tragic tale of loss on many levels. His do over is more a trek through Hell, as Sisyphean challenge.
The wife posited that by his possession of the horn indicates he is closer to redemption, and while this is probably true, I wonder how many times he has retread this path? King made a point to indicate that his gunnah was full of knick knacks he had acquired on his journeys. Could these have been items returned to him with significant meaning based upon how his memories replayed those events etched in the past before the opening desert trek? And like the horn, could there be many more “items of redemption” he will have to acquire before he is finally released from his purgatory?
Such great things to ponder and now I will leave it there. I will spend the rest of my life missing that Ka-tet much like I missed the Potter family; but so glad I got to know them; and walk with them for a bit.
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