Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Dark Tower

After a very productive shopping trip to a succession of Goodwill stores I had found myself in possession of the Dark Tower books 2-7 for the princely sum of about 7$. Since I'd gotten the others for such a song, I forced myself to pay nearly full price for the first one and began reading it. The only reason I bought these was because there is a Dark Tower novella included in the Robert Silverberg edited anthology "Legends" which is a treasure trove of novellas related to all the most popular Fantasy series by authors who at the time were still living. It really did cross the publisher boundary and included all the biggest names. It reads as a who's who of Fantasy authors... or rather a who's who of the Multi Tomb Epic writer anyway.

I found the first book to be quite good, it wasn't strictly speaking a Fantasy novel as King insists on calling it.. It has none of the tropes I consider imperative for a Fantasy novel to have. But it's got a very interesting concept, it's rather reminiscent of the water pools in "The Magician's Nephew". The story didn't wander over much and kept its eye on the prize, of a gunslinger hunting a man in black. It was coarse and had many things in it which I considered to be juvenile.. but since King wrote it when he was 19, I think I can give him a pass on that.

The Second book however just got weird, and the fake words and silly mispronunciations designed to make Roland seem more alien to the "real world" characters its grating and gets on one's nerves very quickly. The book is even more crass than the first one, and he had had several years to mature as a writer. I especially disliked Detta Walker's speech pattern. It was very annoying and difficult to read at times, added to Roland's Popkins and Astin's it just was too much some time. But when the book ended it really helped to firmly establish the reality of the unreality of the world of the Dark Tower which exists in all worlds but is only physically manifested in one of them. The Axis in un-reality which all reality's orbit.


Trey said...

I'd say by definition it is a fantasy novel. It's got magic, which is considered the sine qua non of fantasy by most people. What other genre would it be if it wasn't? ;)

In addition its got an epic quest and an imaginary world setting, so I'd say it's also "epic fantasy."

Lagomorph Rex said...

I just have a very strict view of what is and what isn't fantasy, and its a view which so far I've not been able to quantify. I suppose I would need a graph or something to really do it.

as a certain amount of elements I can get past, Fable II has guns yet it's clearly a Fantasy.. Roland uses guns and I'm not sure it's a fantasy.. but that could be because It's now got cyborg bears and a host of other stuff..

But then, Bernard Cornwell hates it that his Warlord books are in the Fantasy section.. and I think they are great Fantasy books.. So the main thing could simply be that to me, in order for something to be "Fantasy" it has to be set in a world that is pre industrial revolution if not pre gunpowder... anything else and it's taking its first staggering steps into the realm of Steampunk..