The Dark Tower is a series of eight books written by American author Stephen King that incorporates themes from multiple genres, including dark fantasy, science fantasy, horror, and Western. It describes a "gunslinger" and his quest toward a tower, the nature of which is both physical and metaphorical. The series, and its use of the Dark Tower, expands upon Stephen King's multiverse and in doing so, links together many of his other novels. In addition to the eight novels of the series proper that comprise 4,250 pages, many of King's other books relate to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into play as the series progresses.
The series was chiefly inspired by the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by Robert Browning, whose full text was included in the final volume's appendix. In the preface to the revised 2003 edition of The Gunslinger, King also identifies The Lord of the Rings, Arthurian Legend, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as inspirations. He identifies Clint Eastwood's "Man with No Name" character as one of the major inspirations for the protagonist, Roland Deschain. King's style of location names in the series, such as Mid-World, and his development of a unique language abstract to our own (High Speech), are also influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien's work.
Stephen King saw The Dark Tower series as a first draft, initially planning to rewrite it to eliminate continuity errors. However, after revising The Gunslinger, "he is trying to decide how much he can rewrite."
|The Dark Tower|
"The Dark Tower" painting by Michael Whelan
The Little Sisters of Eluria (1998)
The Gunslinger (1982)
The Drawing of the Three (1987)
The Waste Lands (1991)
Wizard and Glass (1997)
The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012)
Wolves of the Calla (2003)
Song of Susannah (2004)
The Dark Tower (2004)
|Illustrator||Michael Whelan, Phil Hale, Ned Dameron, Dave McKean, Jae Lee, Bernie Wrightson, Darrel Anderson|
|Genre||Dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, Western|
In the story, Roland Deschain is the last living member of a knightly order known as gunslingers and the last of the line of "Arthur Eld", his world's analogue of King Arthur. Politically organized along the lines of a feudal society, it shares technological and social characteristics with the American Old West but is also magical. Many of the magical aspects have vanished from Mid-World, but traces remain as do relics from a technologically advanced society. Roland's quest is to find the Dark Tower, a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes. Roland's world is said to have "moved on", and it appears to be coming apart at the seams. Mighty nations have been torn apart by war, entire cities and regions vanish without a trace and time does not flow in an orderly fashion. Sometimes, even the sun rises in the north and sets in the east. As the series opens, Roland's motives, goals and age are unclear, though later installments shed light on these mysteries.
For a detailed synopsis of the novels, see the relevant article for each book.
Along his journey to the Dark Tower, Roland meets a great number of both friends and enemies. For most of the way he is accompanied by a group of people who together with him form the Ka-tet of the Nineteen and Ninety-nine, consisting of Jake Chambers, Eddie Dean, Susannah Dean, and Oy. Among his many enemies on the way are The Man in Black, Mordred, and The Crimson King.
King created a language for his characters, known as the High Speech. Examples of this language include the phrases Thankee, Sai ("Thank you, Sir/Ma'am.") and Dan-Tete ("Little Savior"). In addition, King uses the term Ka, which is the approximate equivalent of destiny, or fate, in the fictional language High Speech (and similarly, Ka-tet, a group of people bound together by fate/destiny). This term originated in Egyptian mythology and storytelling, and has figured in several other novels and screenplays since 1976. The term also appears in King's short story, "Low Men in Yellow Coats", in which Ted describes its meaning to Bobby.
|0.5||The Little Sisters of Eluria||66||23,434||1998|
|1||The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger||224||55,376||1982|
|2||The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three||400||125,948||1987|
|3||The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands||512||173,489||1991|
|4||The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass||787||254,691||1997||1998 Locus Award nominee|
|4.5||The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole||336||91,857||2012|
|5||The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla||714||242,776||2003||2004 Locus Award nominee|
|6||The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah||432||118,221||2004||2005 Locus Award nominee|
|7||The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower||845||272,273||2004||2005 British Fantasy Award winner|
While the series was declared finished with the publication of the seventh volume in 2004, King described in an interview in March 2009 an idea for a new short story he'd recently had: "And then I thought, 'Well, why don't I find three more like this and do a book that would be almost like modern fairy tales?' Then this thing started to add on bits and pieces so I guess it will be a novel." According to King, the idea was a new Dark Tower novel.
King said, regarding The Dark Tower, "It's not really done yet. Those seven books are really sections of one long über-novel." Stephen King confirmed this during his TimesTalk event at The Times Center in New York City on November 10, 2009, and the next day King's official site posted that King would begin working on this novel in about eight months, with a tentative title being The Wind Through the Keyhole. King noted that this novel would likely be set between the fourth and the fifth books of the series. The book, titled The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole, was announced on Stephen King's official site on March 10, 2011, and was published on April 24, 2012.
Each book in the series was originally published in hardcover format with a number of full-color illustrations spread throughout. Each book contained works by a single illustrator only. Subsequent printings of each book in trade paperback format usually preserve the illustrations in full, except for books I and IV. Pocket-sized paperback reprints contain only black-and-white chapter or section header illustrations.
The illustrators who worked on each book are:
Bill Sheehan of The Washington Post called the series "a humane, visionary epic and a true magnum opus" that stands as an "imposing example of pure storytelling," "filled with brilliantly rendered set pieces... cataclysmic encounters and moments of desolating tragedy." Erica Noonan of the Boston Globe said, "There's a fascinating world to be discovered in the series" but noted that its epic nature keeps it from being user-friendly. Allen Johnston of The New York Times was disappointed with how the series progressed; while he marveled at the "sheer absurdity of [the books'] existence" and complimented King's writing style, he said preparation would have improved the series, stating "King doesn't have the writerly finesse for these sorts of games, and the voices let him down." Michael Berry of the San Francisco Chronicle, however, called the series' early installments "highfalutin hodgepodge" but the ending "a valediction" that "more than delivers on what has been promised."
The series has prompted related non-fiction books by authors besides King. Robin Furth has published the two-volume Stephen King's The Dark Tower: A Concordance, an encyclopedia-style companion to the series that she originally wrote for King's personal use. Bev Vincent has published The Road to The Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus, a book containing back story, summary and analysis and The Dark Tower Companion, which includes interviews and coverage of the Marvel graphic novels. Stephen King has endorsed these books.
Charlie the Choo-Choo is a "children's book" by Stephen King released in 2016, published under the pseudonym Beryl Evans. It is adapted from a section of King's previous novel The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands. It was illustrated by Ned Dameron.
Several Dark Tower series arcs were published by Marvel Comics.
A prequel, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born is plotted by Robin Furth, scripted by Peter David, and illustrated by Jae Lee and Richard Isanove, and is set around the time of the flashbacks in The Gunslinger and Wizard and Glass. The first issue of this first arc was released on February 7, 2007. A hardcover volume containing all seven issues was released on November 7, 2007.
The second arc in the series, The Long Road Home, began publication on March 5, 2008. A hardcover volume containing all five issues was released on October 15, 2008.
The third arc, The Dark Tower: Treachery, began publication on September 10, 2008. A hardcover volume containing all 6 issues was released on April 21, 2009.
The fourth arc, The Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead, began publication on May 13, 2009. A hardcover volume containing all 6 issues, as well as the Sorcerer One-Shot was released on February 2, 2010.
The fifth arc, The Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill, began publication on December 3, 2009. A hardcover volume containing all 5 issues was released on August 17, 2010.
Marvel Comics has also published three supplemental books to date that expand upon characters and locations first introduced in the novels. The Dark Tower: Gunslingers' Guidebook was released in 2007, The Dark Tower: End-World Almanac was released in 2008, and The Dark Tower: Guide to Gilead was released in 2009. All three books were written by Anthony Flamini, with Furth serving as creative consultant. End-World Almanac and Guide to Gilead feature illustrations by David Yardin.
A five-issue adaptation of King's novel The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, titled The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Journey Begins, began publication on May 19, 2010. The collected hardback edition was released on January 26, 2011.
An adaptation of King's novella The Little Sisters of Eluria, titled The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Little Sisters of Eluria, began publication on December 8, 2010. The collected hardback edition was released on June 8, 2011.
A second adaptation of King's novel The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, titled The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Battle of Tull, began publication on June 1, 2011. The collected hardback edition was released on January 25, 2012.
A third adaptation of King's novel The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, titled The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger - The Way Station, began publication on December 14, 2011. The collected hardback edition was released on June 27, 2012.
December 7, 2009 saw the release of a spin-off online game titled Discordia, available to play free of charge on the official Stephen King website. The game is a continuation of the original Dark Tower story, following the war between the Tet Corporation and Sombra/NCP in New York, and it has been supervised by both Stephen King and Robin Furth. From the website: "Exploring the behind-the-scenes conflict between the two companies, Discordia introduces long-time Dark Tower fans to new characters and numerous mechanical/magical items developed by Mid-World's Old Ones. Over the course of our adventure we will visit many locations, both those familiar to Dark Tower fans and others which we only glimpsed in the Dark Tower novels. While we may not see Roland and his ka-tet in this adventure, the development team has remembered the faces of its fathers. We have done our best to honor the original Dark Tower series while simultaneously mapping new and exciting Dark Tower territory."
Initially, in 2007, J. J. Abrams was connected to a film adaptation of The Dark Tower series, but later revealed he had removed himself from involvement in the project. On September 8, 2010, an official announcement was made that the series would be brought to both the big and the small screens via a trilogy of feature films and two seasons of a television series to bridge gaps between the films. According to a press release from Universal Pictures from October 29, 2010, the first Dark Tower film would open on May 17, 2013. On July 19, 2011, Universal pulled its support from the production of the Dark Tower films and television series. According to reports, the studio was unable to come to terms with producer Ron Howard. Despite this, Stephen King remained confident Howard would see the project through with another studio, and Howard confirmed the adaptation was still on track, noting that HBO would carry the television series portions of the project from then on.
On March 13, 2012, it was reported that Warner Bros. Pictures was now interested in making at least the first film and that Russell Crowe, tipped to play Roland Deschain, was no longer on board. Reports indicated that filming might have commenced as early as the first quarter of 2013. However, Warner eventually passed on the film. Later, on April 10, 2015, it was reported that Sony Pictures and Media Rights Capital would be going ahead with the first film in the series alongside a television series, using a reworked script by Akiva Goldsman, who worked on the initial 2010 proposal, and Jeff Pinkner. On June 2, 2015, Nikolaj Arcel was hired by the studio to direct the film. On March 1, 2016, it was announced that Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey had both joined the film, cast respectively as Roland Deschain and Walter O'Dim. On May 3, 2017, the first official trailer was released. The film was released on August 4. 2017. Critics panned the film with it receiving a score of 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film combines elements from several novels in The Dark Tower series, serving as a canonical sequel to the novel series, which concluded with the revelation that Roland's quest was a cyclical time loop; the presence of the Horn of Eld, which Roland carries in the film, indicates that this is the next cycle; Stephen King has indicated that The Dark Tower film and television series will follow Roland's "last time round" to the titular Dark Tower.
In an interview with Collider, Stephen King expressed hope for a sequel film in addition to the upcoming television series, suggesting that it should be R-rated, with Roland wearing a hat, and that it would include the "lobstrosities" from The Drawing of the Three. In an interview with ComingSoon.net, Nikolaj Arcel confirmed that The Drawing of the Three would form the basis for the sequel, and that yet-to-be-cast actors who will play Eddie and Susannah Dean would appear alongside Elba, McConaughey, Taylor, and Haley reprising their roles as Roland, Walter, Jake and Sayre respectively.
Currently there exist four audio versions of The Dark Tower series – in English, in German, in French and in Russian. The audio book in English published by Hodder & Stoughton features voices of George Guidall and Frank Muller and has neither music nor sound effects. The audio book in German published by Deutschland Random House Audio introduces Vittorio Alfieri and David Nathan as the narrators. In French audiobooks published by Éditions Gallimard and narrated by Jacques Frantz.
In Russian, The Gunslinger, as narrated by Igor Knyazev, does not have any music or sound effects.
The multi-voiced audio books should necessarily be mentioned. Being created by Roman Volkov and published by Vargtroms Studio, they contain music and sound effects and make extensive use of voices of children, as well as older persons. Over a hundred actors have already been involved in the process of narration. The sound engineer of the project is Victor Pocotiljuk who is well known for his work with the rock band Aria. Thanks to him, this initially amateur project turned out to be a full-size saga with epic music, sound effects and sound-design. The audio books by Vargtroms Studio often include trailers of the upcoming projects, codas and bad takes.
The series has become a linchpin that ties together much of King's body of work. The worlds of The Dark Tower are in part composed of locations, characters, events and other various elements from many of King's novels and short stories. Some of the books that are tied to this series, or that this series references, are It, The Stand, Salem's Lot, Insomnia, Hearts in Atlantis, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Shining and Cell.
'Salem's Lot is a 1975 horror novel by American author Stephen King. It was his second published novel. The story involves a writer named Ben Mears who returns to the town of Jerusalem's Lot (or 'Salem's Lot for short) in Maine, where he had lived from the age of five through nine, only to discover that the residents are becoming vampires. The town is revisited in the short stories "Jerusalem's Lot" and "One for the Road", both from King's story collection Night Shift (1978). The novel was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 1976, and the Locus Award for the All-Time Best Fantasy Novel in 1987.In two separate interviews in the 1980s King said that, of all his books, 'Salem's Lot was his favorite. In his June 1983 Playboy interview, the interviewer mentioned that because it was his favorite, King was planning a sequel, but King has said on his website that because The Dark Tower series already continued the narrative in the Wolves of the Calla and Song of Susannah, he felt there was no longer a need for a sequel. In 1987 he told Phil Konstantin in The Highway Patrolman magazine: "In a way it is my favorite story, mostly because of what it says about small towns. They are kind of a dying organism right now. The story seems sort of down home to me. I have a special cold spot in my heart for it!"The book is dedicated to King's daughter Naomi.All-World
All-World is a fictional location in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series of novels. All-World is the world known to contain the "Keystone Tower" in the Dark Tower series. It is the only world that contains the Dark Tower in its physical form; all others contain a representative of the Tower, such as a rose. From All-World, it is possible to actually enter the Dark Tower.
All-World is divided into three regions; In-World, Mid-World and End-World. The geography is widely varied. It includes deserts, mountains, rolling plains and vast wastelands. All-World is said to have "moved on." This seems to mean that where there was once great order there is now little, if any. For example: the sun does not always rise in the correct place, and at times it will not even cross the sky in an entire day; the compass directions themselves are at drift, what is East today, could be Southeast next week, and next year may be full-on South. According to Blaine the Mono, a talking monorail that functioned throughout Mid-World, his "Slo-Trans" engines were supposed to last for millions of years, but were already faltering after a few thousand. However, since time appears to run at different rates all throughout All-World, and given Blaine's dementia, this assessment may not be dependable.
It seems that an extremely advanced civilization once existed in All-World, a parallel United States, known as the Imperium. This can be inferred from the high degree of similarity between Old Ones' (the name for these ancient people) architecture, automobiles, clothing and the fact that an Old Ones' military outpost used an everyday phone modem and Microsoft products. They might have spoken English.
The civilization of the Old Ones is implied to have collapsed because of the replacement of magic, which could last forever, with technology, which would disintegrate if left unattended, but which nevertheless was allowed to be responsible for maintaining the Beams of the Dark Tower.
The Beams are six invisible forces connecting the edge of the world/universe to the center. These Beams are the primary sources of force in All-World and they maintain order. Failure of the Beams causes changes in physical and astronomical constants, which causes chaos in nature, as well as in civilization. There were six Beams with twelve Guardians, one for each "Portal" (the end of a Beam) arranged like the spokes of a wheel with The Tower at the center. (see also: The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands). Guardians were based on novels like Shardik (for the bear) and Maturin for the turtle (Patrick O'Brian's character Dr. Stephen Maturin was a naturalist who named at least one species of turtle).
The Old One civilization used technology to maintain the Beams of the Dark Tower instead of magic and sought to literally control reality. The final blow for the Old One civilization seems to have been nuclear war, biological warfare, chemical warfare and something "else" that is hinted to be more horrible/powerful than those three, but it is suggested in The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born that it was the final attempt to destroy the Dark Tower itself and rebuild something in their own image as the nexus of space and time. It is not known when such wars took place (but long ago enough that it is in the ancient past and that the gene lines are finally starting to breed true, or "threaded"), why they took place, or even between which nations or organizations such wars were fought. It is widely hinted the Crimson King was ultimately working behind the scenes, manipulating people and events to bring about civilization's destruction, since such destruction serves his ultimate ends.
The All-World of most of the Dark Tower series is sparsely populated and dangerous, filled with mutants both human and animal, and vast swaths of land are irradiated. Demons and robots are to be found, as well as Taheen, who are in the employ of the Crimson King. Governments do not extend beyond the town/local level. Resources are scarce and relics of the Old Ones' technology exist mainly in perverted, deranged, or damaged forms that threaten instead of help the last remnants of civilization.Black House (novel)
Black House is a horror novel by American writers Stephen King and Peter Straub. Published in 2001, it is the sequel to The Talisman.
This is one of King's numerous novels, which also include Hearts in Atlantis and Insomnia, that tie in with the Dark Tower series. Black House was nominated to the Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel.The novel is set in Straub's homeland of Wisconsin, rather than in King's frequently-used backdrop of Maine. The town of "French Landing" is a fictionalized version of the town of Trempealeau, Wisconsin. Also, "Centralia" is named after the nearby small town of Centerville, Wisconsin, located at the intersection of Hwy 93 and Hwy 35.
A chapter of the book is written around Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven".List of The Dark Tower characters
The Dark Tower is a series of eight novels written by American author Stephen King, which incorporate multiple genres including fantasy, science fantasy, horror and western. Below are The Dark Tower characters that come into play as the series progresses.Randall Flagg
Randall Flagg is a fictional character created by American author Stephen King, who has appeared in at least nine of his novels. Described as "an accomplished sorcerer and a devoted servant of the Outer Dark," he has supernatural abilities involving necromancy, prophecy, and influence over animal and human behavior. His goals typically center on bringing down civilizations through destruction and conflict. He has a variety of names, usually with the initial letters "R. F." but with occasional exceptions, such as Walter o'Dim, originally envisioned by King as a separate character, in The Dark Tower series and Marten Broadcloak.
Flagg first appeared in The Stand as a demonic figure who wreaks havoc after a plague kills most of the population. He makes his second appearance in The Eyes of the Dragon as an evil wizard trying to plunge the fictional medieval city of Delain into chaos. Flagg was a primary antagonist in King's epic series, The Dark Tower, who tries to keep protagonist Roland Deschain from reaching the Tower—the linchpin of existence—so he can claim it for himself and become a god. The Dark Tower expanded on Flagg's background and motivation, linking his previous appearances. Aside from King's novels, Flagg was featured in a television miniseries adaptation of The Stand in which he was portrayed by Jamey Sheridan and The Dark Tower film adaptation in which he was portrayed by Matthew McConaughey. He has also appeared in Marvel Comics' adaptations of The Dark Tower and The Stand.King initially cited Donald DeFreeze, primary kidnapper of Patty Hearst, as his inspiration for Flagg. Later, he attributed Flagg to an image of a man walking the roads in cowboy boots, denim jeans, a jacket, and most importantly wearing a hat (according to Stephen King himself), a notion which "came out of nowhere" when he was in college. Flagg's character and the nature of his evil have been the subject of considerable critical attention.The Dark Tower (2017 film)
The Dark Tower is a 2017 American dark science fantasy western action film directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel. A continuation of Stephen King's novel series of the same name, the film stars Idris Elba as Roland Deschain, a gunslinger on a quest to protect the Dark Tower—a mythical structure which supports all realities—while Matthew McConaughey plays his nemesis, Walter Padick / the Man in Black and Tom Taylor stars as Jake Chambers, a New York boy who becomes Roland's apprentice.Intended to launch a film and television franchise, the first installment combines elements from several novels in the eight-volume series, and takes place in both modern-day New York City and in Mid-World, Roland's Old West-style parallel universe. The film also serves as a canonical sequel to the novel series, which concludes with the revelation that Roland's quest is a cyclical time loop; the presence of the Horn of Eld, which Roland carries in the film, indicates that this is the next cycle.The Dark Tower premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on July 31, 2017 and was theatrically released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on August 4, 2017. The film grossed $113 million worldwide on a $66 million budget and received generally negative reviews, with critics calling it "a dull disappointment without any set audience: incomprehensible to newbies and wildly unfaithful and simplistic to fans of King's books," though Elba's performance earned praise.