Friday, 16 May 2014

Flashback Friday - The Gunslinger series

When I was a sweet young thing of 19, Mr Books first introduced me to Stephen King, by giving me It for Christmas (so romantic I know!)

But it was love at first sight on both accounts.
It was also a love that waxed and waned over the years on both accounts!

After nearly 15 years apart, Mr Books and I found each other again only to discover that our love for each other and SK had kept apace.
We had both lost faith with King during the 90's but we had also found our way back into the fold by the time we found each other again.

For me it was The Gunslinger series that brought me back.

I read the first two (The Gunslinger(1982) and The Drawing of the Three(1987) in the late 80's & The Wastelands(1991) a couple of years later.
I adored them. They were rough, they were cruel, they were dark and gritty, but they were also romantic and spell-binding.

Roland is the gunslinger - a mysterious man - who has been chasing an even more mysterious dark man through time and worlds for a very long time. He is joined by a young boy, Jake in his quest and later Eddie and Susannah join the ka-tet.
All are reluctant and unwitting participants in the quest. But as they go along a bond forms and the quest takes on different meanings for all of them (including me the reader).

King liked to use lots of references from his other novels through out these books. Sometimes it was characters or places that popped up and sometimes it was shared events & experiences. Shared or parallel worlds also occurred to keep the King devotee really on their toes!

My three books are some of the original covers which include gorgeous colour plates throughout.
They were reread several times with no hope of ever seeing the end of the quest. King kept publishing other books; I thought the Gunslinger had been forgotten by everyone but me.

Imagine my delight when I discovered a fourth book in my local bookshop in the year 2000! My only disappointment was the non-matching covers and the fact that Wizards and Glass (1997) didn't actually move the story of the quest forward. Instead , King spent an entire book on Roland's back story.

The next wait was not so long, and was well rewarded.
In a flurry of activity and purpose King published Wolves of Calla (2003), Song of Susannah (2004) and The Dark Tower (on his birthday 21 Sept 2004) within 12 months of each other.

The quest was over (or was it?), Stephen King made an appearance in his own book (yes, really!) and a companion book Through the Keyhole was released in 2012.

I have read since, that King revised the original Gunslinger in 2003. I'm not sure if I want to read the new version or not. I'm not sure I even have the stamina to reread the whole series again.

But I did love this fantasy world of quests and journeys.
It still lives fresh in my mind to this day.
Roland and Flagg are part of my mythology now; a shared experience with Mr Books (who shares a birth date with Mr King - really!)

When Mr Books and I combined libraries, our King shelf proudly declared that we two, were indeed, two of the devotee's.
Plenty more Flashback Friday's in that pile!

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