The Dark Tower by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Want to see the spoilers? Go here:
So. I've been sitting here staring at this screen for about 2 hours after finishing The Dark Tower. It was pretty touch-and-go for a bit.
I couldn't see much through the tears.
But I'm back now. It's not like this is the first time I read the book. I had a book hangover then, also, but I think I'm recovering slightly better than that last time.
I'm afraid I can't say ANYTHING about this book without going into spoiler territory. It's brilliant and it's epic, of course, and it keeps blowing my mind over and over and over again right before it tears out my heart and stamps all over it again and again and again... but by the end, I'm saying to myself,
"Go then, there are other worlds than these..."
(view spoiler)[I DIED when Eddie and Jake died. When Oy sacrificed himself to fight Mordred, I also died. When Susannah left, finally taking the path AWAY FROM Samsara, I died, because all that was left was an artist, Roland, and Oy.
She gave up on him. Of course, there were the dreams and the DT sung to all the Ka-Tet, but still. Roland started his obsession alone and he ended alone, a victim of his own obsession. Or rather, not quite alone. The Crimson King joins him in his obsession. Forever. Time runs backward there, and as we learn later, it repeats.
What really freaks me out is the fact that Roland could have relied on the artist to erase the Crimson King entirely, kill evil forever, and yet Roland instead plucks a rose that serves as AN ENTIRE UNIVERSE, sacrificing it, having his blood mix with it, in order to blind the Crimson King before the great erasure. But it was this great evil of Roland's, along with the painting, that lets the Crimson King endure. Just his eyes, of course, but because he got painted with the Blood of Eld and the sacrifice of an entire universe, Roland ensures that his and the Crimson King's obsession endures forever.
The climb up the tower, his reliving his past, brought him back 34 years to the darkest point of his hopeless obsession, ever and forever coming back to the Dark Tower. Where do I get the 34 years? Roland and Stephen King are the same man. King wrote this Cycle between 1970 and 2004. It was his grand obsession, and he wrote himself, sometimes humorously and often as a victim of his own hubris, right into the Dark Tower in a very meta and awesomely brilliant way.
So. Who is who? Roland? Crimson King? Or Stephen King? They are all victims of their obsession, and their child, either metaphorically or TRULY, is Mordred, the complete body of Stephen King's writing.
Which, if you recall, brings in SO MUCH of the Dark Tower mythos.
So let's look at the deaths of our great antagonists who all serve the beam. Walter dies, is consumed by SK's bibliography. Mordred grapples with Oy, the last member of Roland's Ka-Tet, which, you should remember, is part dog. And SK has made a point of directing us to the reversibility of Dog as God. Roland and SK take a final parting shot at SK's body of work and kills him (it).
The Crimson King, the greatest evil in all universes, across all universes, is left with nothing more than two red eyes that will never die in the hub of all universes. This is SK telling us that as the beams regenerate and the Dark Tower brings magic back into all worlds, the seeds for new evil (And New Stories) will always be waiting in the wings.
And Roland? Well, SK's writing obsession will never end. (hide spoiler)]
And with that, I beg your pardon. That I do.
I needed to say something REAL about this book that affected me soooo damn much. Still affects me. It's one of the most brilliant works I've ever read, together with the rest of the cycle.
Sure, there are some things that aren't all that good, but EVERYTHING SERVES THE BEAM. And the beam, the Dark Tower itself, is GOOD. For all the things I could complain about, the really awesome aspects FAR OUTWEIGH the bad... and so much so that I'm left giddy and lost in tears.
Say what you will, but these books are something truly memorable.
One more thing:
(view spoiler)[My edition of The Dark Tower has a picture of Roland carrying an uprooted rose at the base of the Dark Tower. This has got to be one of the most fucked up and nasty covers in history. I mean, it looks rather pretty, right? But what we're looking at is Roland SACRIFICING A WHOLE UNIVERSE, just like he let Jake die, in order to GET to the Dark Tower. This is SIN. Roland's sin. Endlessly repeated. He will never learn his lesson. A universe among so many universes is not so great a price, IS IT?
Of course, that universe could have been ours. Or another Keystone Earth. But what does he care? He is deep in the throes of his obsession.
Kind of like being a writer. Pouring your soul into your work and yet you always get shat on, and yet you keep writing. And writing. And writing. You may try to balance what you do against the needs of life, and Roland DID try to change, to love his Ka-Tet, to be a wonderfully rounded human being, but in the end, he chose writing over his friends and his family and Gan. And paid the price.
*shiver* (hide spoiler)
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