The Gunslinger (Dark Tower Series) by Stephen King, feat Fantasy Files
Release Date: August 10, 2022
Three poops ago, we read The Gunslinger with the Fantasy Files. Gabe was so annoyed by it that he refused to come to the recording (jk he was trapped in capitalism hell) so we chatted with Spencer about all the ways we want to see The Gunslinger cry.
Content Warning: This episode contains discussion of fictional sexual assault.
You can find more Fantasy Files content on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA87yRdWyzRMq3Im1leK6OA
Thanks to the following musicians for the use of their songs:
- Amarià for the use of “Sérénade à Notre Dame de Paris”
- Josh Woodward for the use of “Electric Sunrise”
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
*this transcript is AI generated, please excuse the mess.
Hello, and welcome to fiction fans, a podcast where we read books and other words to unbeli.
And I'm Sarah and we are delighted to be joined this episode by Spencer, but tragically not by Gabe from the fantasy files podcast. Hello,
how's it going?
Wait. So I heard that Gabe had maybe similar feelings about this book as I did. So I'm a little bummed. He's not here to shout about it with us.
Yeah, I mean, yeah, he couldn't make it. I had to lock him in his cage, I found out that he was bolstering our subscriber base by making fake YouTube accounts. So he wasn't he's just not able to be.
Like you're saying is that he needs to get better at doing that. So you don't notice next time?
Yeah, I mean, all of his fake accounts were just gave with some random set of numbers. So it was pretty obvious.
Well, once he figures that out, back on, we are going to be talking about the gunslinger by Stephen King. And before we start shouting about a little preview of what's going to be coming, what's something good that happened lately?
So something good that happened is back in February, I ordered a bed frame, and it was horribly backordered and only just arrived. And so I finally get to be sleeping on an actual bedframe like an actual adults instead of a mattress on my floor, like just out of college student that I have not been for a number of years.
Did it make you feel young inside though?
No, it made me feel creaky. Getting up from that low on the ground. Yeah.
Well, congrats on the new bed frame.
Yeah, I have a bed frame. But my bed is currently doing the same thing because my dog is a Doxon. And he likes to jump up on the bed. And he won't he won't learn how to use a ramp or stairs or anything. And it is it's like so so bad for their back to jump like really high off. Yeah, on and off of things. So I was like, You know what, I can't train him to use this ramp. I bought three different kinds of ramps and I tried treats. I tried everything. He didn't want to learn how to do it. So I was like, I'm gonna give up. And I'm going to just set my bed on the ground, so it's less of a distance for him to jump.
That was actually the good thing because Snorri likes to jump on the bed. And so you know, when slower it's easier for him. Mr. Squeak my other pug. Theoretically, she could jump on the bed when it's just a mattress on the ground. But she did not because she does not know how to jump up on things. expects to be picked up like a princess. And to be fair, I mean, I do pick her up. Yeah, so she's not wrong. She's not wrong. She She has trained me sort of the other way around. Yeah.
My good thing is that I found my sunglasses. They've been missing for like a month and the sun has finally come out. So just in fucking time.
That's very exciting. Spencer, I don't think you actually said what your good thing was. I'm allowed to go second.
No, yeah, cuz everything is just pain and darkness. No, I. So I'm moving next week to a different state. And I need to tell my truck get like a U haul truck and tow it behind me because I don't want to drive. You know, 400 something miles in a truck that's already kind of old. And so I had originally called Penske. And they quoted me at like almost four grand for a truck and just a little tow hitch to tow it. And so I was like, I'm not going to be able to do it. Like there's there's no way I'm just gonna have to like drive my truck and get some sort of trailer and put all those miles on my truck. But then I called U haul and they are down at I think it was like 1300 for the truck and tow package combo. I know that's such like a boring adult thing. But like, I was like
yes. I mean it goes well with getting a new bedframe Yeah,
sure. So what is everyone drinking tonight?
This book made me think whiskey. So I am drinking whiskey in one hand and water in the other. There is
a lot of whiskey in the toll toll section. Tola pulls
tall I think,
oh the chapter one or whatever, where it's Yeah, where he's in the little town. Yeah, I'm drinking. I'm also drinking whiskey bourbon. It's kind of some sort of Frankenstein Between a Manhattan and an old fashion, it's like an old fashion but it's got vermouth in it. And yeah, I love this drink. It's got my favorite. I don't know. Are you guys familiar with Woodinville bourbon? Yeah, hell yeah. Yeah, I love I love that stuff. It's like my favorite. So
I once roped family into going up to Woodinville, and they all humored B and went to the whiskey tasting room. Except none of them actually liked whiskey. So they tasted it and then gave it to me to finish. And that was
bad. I've never been to the actual distillery. That's cool.
We didn't get to do a tour or anything because we showed up too late, which was too bad.
But so I got in an argument the other day was somebody on Twitter as I'm prone to do. And they were saying that they take shots of whiskey and I'm like, that's not that's not how you're supposed to drink it. How do you guys how do you guys drink whiskey?
You take shots of bad yeah, because you don't want to taste that?
Right. Okay. That's what I was saying.
Like, I'm drinking basil Hayden, which I drink on the rocks. And you sip it because it's delicious.
I generally skip the ice but you sip it.
There are definitely whiskies that I would take a shot, like as a pickle back or something, which are also delicious, but in a very different way. Yeah, not like good bourbon. No.
I think whoever you were talking to was just wrong.
I know. That's what I'm saying. I'm like, that's just not how you do it. But okay, teach their teach their own. I guess. Maybe
they've just only ever had Jack Daniels. Exactly. Yeah. Well, I'm glad that we're the whiskey crowd today. That's perfect. Very appropriate. And before we jump into our book for this evening, has anyone read anything good lately, I have not get that out of the way.
I finally finished the phlebotomist by Christianity here, I was in a little bit of a book slump. So it took me longer through no fault of the book. So it took me a little longer to read that I had wanted to but those last 100 pages like they just flew by.
What kind of book is it? It doesn't sound like it would be like fantasy or something it
is. I would classify it as fantasy, almost more along the lines of urban fantasy in the sense that it takes place in an urban setting, but also kind of like post apocalyptic. Oh, really? There's a big spoiler that I cannot say that makes a difference
when the genre of a book is a
spoiler. Well, it's not its genre itself is a spoiler, but like this, this thing would really help to describe the genre. I cannot say it right, for sure. But it's a great book. So I really enjoyed it. See,
you guys have probably seen me post about this a lot on on Twitter. I'm a huge fan of the kings dark tidings series by cavalcade. And she just released a prequel novella about one of the, I guess, main side characters, and it was so good, and it just sparked this whole, just this whole rampage, I went on where I'm like, I read the prequel novella. I and I just read the whole series, maybe like six months ago or so. And then I read the prequel and I was like, I'm doing another reread. I'm just doing it. So then that started, I had to pause the kingstar tidings book that I was on to read this one, and then tomorrow, I'll be going back to kingstar.
That's awesome, though. A series that always sucks you back in is such a special thing.
Oh, yeah, I would say that. It's like my number two favorite series next to like Dresden Files, because the President will always be my number one. And so KDT is definitely my number two favorite.
That's high praise.
I definitely recommend it if anybody's into just like epic fantasy, and like the most literal sense of the term. Big scope, that kind of thing.
Wonderful. Well, speaking of big scope, I don't know what version of the gunslinger you had. But I had the rerelease, I guess, when King finished the whole series, he went back and like edited the first book and wrote a new foreword. And one of the quotes in the foreword is I wanted to write the longest popular novel in history, which is not a good goal.
I feel like if that's going to be your goal, you should have other goals for the series besides that. Yeah.
So anyway, that's the tone this whole conversation is going to
be Yeah, I mean, that's certainly fair if the series ends up being that, like, you know, something like a wheel of time, or Malzahn, or something like that. But yeah, maybe don't go into your first book. With that in mind, I would say, yeah,
just a weird like thing to set out to do.
Yeah. Because I, I feel like if your goal is to write the longest thing, you're going to end up bloating it a whole lot and maybe string it out too much,
and have something that's confusing and convoluted the way that
Yeah, before we dive in, I'm going to delay us again, one more time. None of us have read the dark towers series before.
It sounds like I'm pretty sure Yeah, okay. Correct.
Yeah. Although I believe that our cousin is a big fan. Oh, no, our mutual cousin. Yeah.
I have words for her. Find her on the podcast, put her up on the shooting block. Anyway. I have read some Stephen King books before, though. And I will say my experience with them was kind of the exact same as my experience with the gunslinger. Really, yeah. I really love his concepts. He comes up with really cool ideas. And then the execution of them just never really clicks for me. I don't know. I read Carrie. And I read The Shining. And both of those are just like not what I wanted in a book.
Interesting. Okay, I have a I have Salem's Lot on my TBR it's actually coming up pretty soon. And I've heard that a lot of The Dark Tower books have to do with like, there's easter eggs from Salem's Lot. It I can't remember if the shining was one of them. There's a few of them that are all kind of part of this multiverse. So I was originally going to read it before we went into the Gunslinger, but then I just put it
off. Yeah. And the other books that I've named are all from a similar era. I don't know. I mean, I assume he grew was an author out of the 70s.
Yeah, one should hope so.
Yeah. I don't know all the books of his that I've seen. All two of them. I've not been super into.
This was my first Stephen King novel, same. And I think like you, Lilly, I thought some of the ideas were cool. And some of the concepts were cool. But just the execution did not work for me. And also I normally like in media res but it didn't work for me in this book, either. So this book was not for me, ultimately, I've heard book two gets much better. For what it's worth saying.
Yeah, but yeah, matter of fact, I had heard something that said, on on some booktube channel, somebody was saying that reading the first book, you're gonna feel like you're kind of thrown into the middle of this whole thing that's going on, and you're going to be really confused. And that it really helps to read book to like, immediately after, and we'll kind of get to, I have thoughts on on the ending and kind of where I fall on it. But I'm sure we'll get to that. But yeah, I've just I've heard that it definitely gets better.
Yeah, like by about midway through the book, I was pretty okay with the world and like, where we were with it. Yeah, but I just had a really rocky start. Oh, yeah.
I did not feel that way at all. I feel like I got, like, more annoyed with it. The farther in I got. And I actually started, like pretty on board. Which is maybe a bad song. Really?
Yeah. I, I kind of enjoyed
the like, let's find out what the hell was going on? vibe that we had.
Sure. It wasn't that I liked finding out what was going on. It was just I had so much trouble with the world building. Like I was interested in finding out what was like the action that was happening. It was specifically the setting, and like the language and stuff that I had trouble with.
No, I mean, okay, I did not like I did not enjoy the different dialects he has invented for this world. I found them unnecessary, just needlessly complicated. Yeah. But, I mean, so we're thrown into this desert world. And people are wearing jeans, and there's guns. So there's some sort of industry right, but then we find out a little more. I think it's best illustrated by the fact that demons are dropped pretty early on, but it's not totally clear if they mean literal demons or just the concept of demons. Right? Because there's a lot of Christianity in this book, which I was a little surprised by. But then a little while later, they mentioned it to Hien, which is a man with a race Since head and you're like, oh, no, they probably met literally, that's, that's where we are. Okay, cool. And that kind of thing I like, enjoyed. And then the setting gets more complicated. There's also, you know, castles, but also, again, jeans and T shirts. It's weird. It's a weird place, but I liked it. That part was not what threw me for a loop.
And I think the thing that kind of threw me is, and I this might be a hot take, I don't know. But I just cannot do like a lot of kind of older literature, whether it's classic fantasy, or whatever even Wheel of Time is like right on the precipice of the kind of the way that it's written and the kind of language that's used, it's like, right on the edge of like, you know what I do and don't like, I'm very much like a modern fantasy reader. And I think if this story had been rewritten in like, you know, even like 2015 or something, it would have made so much more sense because listening to the audiobook and I should also note that I think that I had the oldest version, I think I had like the the original one before it was revised. Oh, interesting. Yeah, because I saw, I saw something saying that the revised version is called the gunslinger. And the older one is called the Dark Tower One. And that's the one that is available on Audible. And so I think that's the one I have, I'm not completely sure, but a lot of the like language that's used, and just like the, I can't exactly put my finger on it, but just the way that he conveyed the story felt very, like, kind of old timey. I know, it was only like the 70s or whatever. But you know, for me, that's, that's old.
I mean, I think when it comes to fantasy that qualifies as old.
And I do think the former he wrote, he mentioned, when he was younger, he thought more words were better than fewer words. And that was one of the things he cleaned up. Interesting. I didn't have a problem with his prose too much. In this book. Again, I read the edited version. So that could definitely be where that's coming from. He didn't invent this like dialect that all of the dialog is in. There's a lot of these. And that was not, not for me.
Yeah, that was part of my problem with it, too, is I just didn't enjoy the dialogue.
I almost wonder if that's something that he added after because I don't remember. Again, I was listening on audiobook and it could have just flown right past me. But I don't remember any language like that.
Interesting. Now, I want to
go through the foreword and see if he mentions anything about that.
There were a few moments in this book, where, while I was reading something, as the reader I was going, what are you doing, like this is clearly, you know, a bad idea or something's going horribly wrong. And then I was vindicated by one of the other characters in the book, agreeing with me and telling the gunslinger he's doing something stupid. The best example, the only non spoilery example of that is when one of the characters is cooking dinner for him. And he's cooking beans that are dried, and he only cooks them for like an hour. And I was like, that's not enough. Stephen King, have you ever cooked before? But then like the next page, the gunslinger says, oh, there were his hardest bullets. And I was like, Yeah, because they didn't come for. That's a very low stakes example.
does show up a couple of times. Jake, I think is the character that calls him out on the most stuff, but
So how long are you supposed to cook beans?
The longer you do it, the softer they get? And I like like refried beans, pinto beans. So I'll boil them for like half a day.
And especially if you let them soak. Yeah. Which I don't think they had enough water to do really? No. So
yeah, for sure. That was a commodity it wasn't.
Gosh, is this the part where we talk about how I really get the feeling that every time Stephen King meets a woman his first thought is what I put my dick in there.
I yeah, I was very unimpressed by the way that he wrote all of the women in this book, all four of them. Yeah, just any any woman was sexualized.
I was gonna say How many were there really? Because there was the two. I don't want to go into spoilers I guess but there was the two in toll Oh, And then it I feel like it had a pretty small cast of characters who else was there? Besides was his mom in the flashback?
There is his mom, his ex lover that we don't actually know much about. I don't think we ever saw her at all. Okay, but just like the women, even if they weren't like main characters, like some of the children, like female children were described in sexual ways, and it was just Oh, really? Yeah, it's always
What do their breasts look like? Also, they're 12. There's at one point, he's describing one of the townspeople in toll. There's a 13 year old boy and his jelly child. I did have to look this up. Jelly is his word for concubine. Oh, I
do remember this. Yeah.
So he's referring to this 13 year old boy hanging out with the girl his own age as hanging out with his concubine. Why Stephen King. And then, I think the very worst is not even a person a corpse. At one point, the gunslinger kills someone that's not a spoiler, because a lot of people and the quote is, she landed in a whorish sprawl, her skirt rocked up between her thighs. My dude, you just murdered her. through your head.
Just stand. Yeah, that is weird language.
He does bring up the Oedipus complex at one point. Just there was a throwaway line and I'm like, You really didn't need to add to this. There's enough. Oh, man.
Yeah. Yep. Yeah,
it wasn't a thing. It was a thing.
I mean, one or two. Okay. But all of the even the unnamed characters even the not even on screen characters is not it's not a good look.
Yeah, I do wonder
if that's something that continues throughout the series. Or if as Stephen King matures as a as an author as a writer, if he gets better at giving the women more characteristics than just how, how they are sexually,
having tidies. The greatest personality trait I just think it was fascinating. So the character who's bad at cooking beans is a dweller. He's a he's a desert dweller. And he's described as being you know, all a weathered and beaten in a survivor and he's amazing. And then the book describes ally who the gunslinger ends up in a relationship with for a short period of time. And she's so weathered and sad and pathetic and old. Like these are both people surviving in very harsh conditions. Why is one of them impressive? And one of them pathetic? Yeah. Yeah. Constantly. Yes. True. I, the fact that he had that, like, perfect mirror was like, You're, you're just giving it? Yeah. I also feel like king thought we were gonna forget who Ali was.
Yes, thank you. Oh, my God.
Did that bother you, too?
This was driving me up the fucking wall. Like Chod. Yeah, it
was just wild the way that he like, I don't know, thought we would forget or like wanted to constantly drive home that the gunslinger had had sex with this woman in this town. Like, we would know this Stephen King.
Even besides that, if he would ever like think back to alley or whatever he would always say, the girl from what was the name of the town? Tall Girl from toll. It's like, yes. Like we know. And not only that, but not only was toll 50 pages ago, but you reminding us that she was from toll was like,
you don't need to do it again.
Did he do that with anything else? You don't think it was just her?
I don't think so. I mean, it's not like every time he was like, Jake, the kid from the I don't want. Yeah. Jake from the other place. Oh, my God, that drove me nuts. That drove me incomplete.
It wasn't really on stylistic choice. Yeah.
Yeah. I don't understand it at all. He doesn't do that with any of the crazy flashbacks. That would have been helpful for me to get some context for.
I know. I was there a minute ago.
It would have been it would have been nice if you did it for like court or like some of the people that we hear about for a long time before we actually see a flashback about them, rather than the one person we have seen recently even
Yeah, I kept forgetting who cord was and then who's, who's his other friend that like grows up with him. I don't remember the name. Okay. He has a longer name starting with a seed. Yeah, I could something, Bert, something like that. Yeah. And I could not remember for the life of me who that was every time until halfway through the book or so.
Yeah. But uh, nope. Ali, the woman that I slept with back and told remember maybe that was just a like conquest thing. He was just so pleased that she begged him to sleep with her. He was like, I remember that girl who begged me to sleep with her. Yeah.
He doesn't do that with like the other woman that he mentioned, having been in love with or whatever, whom we hear about by name.
Yeah, I don't know, I got I got the feeling that Ali was like, someone who will not be in his memory for very long, like he's just passing through. It's a thing that happened. He didn't really like care for her anything. And it just kind of becomes it becomes this thing. Like, even with her, like, begging him to stay and stuff in his like inner monologue or in the narration, you can just tell that he doesn't have any feelings whatsoever about this person, which I guess is fine, but I got the vibe that he just rather than thinking so much of like this conquest or anything, he just thought like nothing of her
was. Let's see. Yeah, I feel like that actually, because I got that same vibe, but I feel like that makes it the fact that he's constantly talking about Ali the the girl from tall,
like weirder. Yeah. It's it's a writing choice.
Because if he doesn't have any feelings for her, why is he constantly bringing her up?
And that's where I would say it's probably less on the character and more on King. Yeah. For writing that in, you know?
Well, that's always the question, right? Like, how much of this is the gunslinger that because it's in third person, but it's pretty close third person and a lot of the narrative is right, you know, the gunslingers opinions. So how much do we say oh, that's characterizing? And how much do we say, Stephen King? What the fuck? Yeah.
I mean, I would feel comfortable with most of this kind of being Stephen King. What the fuck? Like, I think when he did like, whatever revision, I think he should have just rewritten the whole thing. Instead of instead of making like small edits, like, just bring it up to modern day. Did you guys know that this whole story was posted in like a magazine or something like it was originally. It was originally and all these like different issues of whatever magazine. And that's how this story began?
Yeah, it was. It was a collection of short stories that were published.
Wait, that explains. Reminding us who Ali is. Because you didn't read about it. 10 pages ago, you might have read about it a month ago?
Oh, I didn't even catch on to that. That's
but that makes sense. For the original format,
but you should have fixed it for the novel.
Yeah. Right. Yeah. Why wouldn't you fix it? Right? Well, at
least that explains why that was there to begin with. That should have been an obvious thing to fix. But I'm actually 100% less annoyed by it now. Not not 100% I'm like, yeah, 50% less annoyed with
real quick Do you Do you guys like that when you when you're reading a series, and every book has kind of a, a usually pretty quick reminder of like how the magic system works or how this thing or that thing works or who this person is? Or does that annoy you? Because I find I find when I binge read and Dresden Files does this a lot when I'm binge reading something that constant reminders annoy me, but I could imagine if you're reading it for the first time, it might be nice. I don't know.
I think it depends on how it's done. Yeah. Like, I want something that's subtle. And that flows with the story. Yeah. And I don't necessarily need it at multiple points. Like the other thing with the reminders about ally is that it's not just once at the beginning of each story, like it's multiple times within a story. And like at that point, you've already reminded me who Ali is, I don't I don't need that other reminder. And so when you do something like that, where it's just hitting me over the head with this catch up knowledge that starts frustrating me. Yeah,
I agree completely. I think there are clever ways to like, work it into the narrative. And just sort of jog the reader's memory or let the reader in on the know how Well, if there are new readers starting it, not the first book, I don't know, is that a thing people do? Yeah, but there's definitely clumsy ways to do it like, Ellie. And I slept with Yeah, tall. Okay, this is the part where we say who should read this book?
Yeah, I think this is gonna be a hard one.
I think Sarah, your comment about it being genre changing when it came out is something we should lean on. Right? Like, if you're interested in the history of the genre, and want to see like some of the foundational works from a long time ago. I think there's value there.
I mean, if you're a Stephen King fan who likes fantasy, you should read this book.
And probably people who are are used to reading older fantasy because a lot of the older fantasy that I have read has been very, very similar, storytelling wise. So maybe people who are into like, I don't know how old Malzahn is, but I don't think Malzahn is that like, Oh, does that is it? Okay, I've never read it.
I've never read it either. Actually, you know, it's funny. I had never heard of Malzahn until we started the podcast, and then I got on Twitter, and everyone talks about Malzahn 99. Oh, yeah. 99
I'll never read it. Too complicated. Too much.
I would give it a shot, but it's not a priority.
Yeah, I definitely. There was a moment in this book, where I forgot we were in a flashback. So like, we see his donkey die. And it's very much like, Oh, he's so cool. He doesn't even care that his, you know, Snowball steed, his donkey died. Like, he doesn't give a fuck. And then suddenly, he's talking about riding his donkey into town. And I was like, what? Wait, did he get what's going on? And I realized, Oh,
it's a flashback.
I didn't have any problems, like, delineating the flashbacks from the current action.
Yeah, no, that was just a brain fart.
I definitely think that it was like, I don't know, not done as well as I've seen it done in other books.
Yeah, I don't really know what constitutes a good flashback. But I've definitely seen it done really well in books. But I would say probably for maybe like 75% of the ones that I've read. I've never liked them. No matter whether I'm reading on on paper or audiobook. It's especially bad with audiobook, but I just never really feel like they're done smoothly enough. I mean, you guys did the Night Angel episode with us. And there's that flashback somewhere near the end, where it's like going over events that happened earlier. And that is the worst flashback that is like, it's like, Wait, why are we repeating all this? Oh, we're in a flashback. It would have been nice, have you? You know,
I remember that one also completely throwing me. At least in the gunslinger. It had its own section. That just happened to be when I had put it down and then picked it back up. So I completely forgot the context for the section I was starting. But that's not
something you get if you're like Spencer listening on audio.
Oh, right. Yeah, it's just going and then all of a sudden, you're in a different time period or whatever.
Oh, yeah. That'd be terrible. Yeah, I don't think I could deal with flashbacks on audio at all. Unless you specifically have someone like in the narration saying in his flashback he thought about, which is horrible writing. And this
section is italicized. Yes. So do they not say like, chapter one, section two or any of that?
They do, but there's nothing to delineate it as a flashback. Matter of fact, I didn't know a lot of the scenes that I had heard over audiobook I didn't even know or flashbacks until I watched a YouTube video later where they did like a whole summary. In the Summary. He was like, and then gunslinger remembers this scene. I'm like, Oh, that was in the past. Okay, I get
it. Yeah, that must have been so confusing. Yeah, it's for
me for sure.
So who should read this book?
Think if you are interested in reading something that was genres changing when it came out, which this this book was, I mean, credit where credit is due when it came out. I think the first short story was published in 78. And the book itself came out in like 82 or something like it was unique and not something that really had been seen before. So if you're interested in seeing a foundational work of the genre Read, you should read this. If you're a Stephen King reader and you like fantasy or a fantasy reader and you like Stephen King, you should read this.
And that's it. Those are the only two people who should read this.
Well, I'm, I might say to that, like, you know, this, this series has a huge fan base and it's gotta have that fan base for a reason. You know, I would say maybe people that are willing to put up with a bad first book or maybe a bad first couple books. I haven't read beyond this one. So I don't actually know. But you know, someone who's willing to really commit to like a whole series or something might might be interested because I'm sure it gets better. At some point like it has
such a huge, so optimistic. I know.
But you know, Twilight has a huge fan base too. So,
hey, Twilight is good for 12 year old girls, and that's who should read that book.
Yeah, Twilight knows its audience. It does. Yeah,
dark towers if you're patient and willing to see apparently what the authors set out to write the longest popular book in history, if that appeals to you. Sounds like a lot of filler to me. Actually. This book didn't feel like it had a lot of filler. So
it felt like it happened too fast. I kind of want to talk about I'll wait I'll wait for
spoilers I'll stop stalling
I have a lot of spoiler comments to move with spoilers skip to one late to 30
Okay, so I want to I want to ask you about what you were just talking about. You called it gun rape. Are you talking about the thing at the beginning with the girl the or not girl but the the lady that was pregnant with the demon child? Yeah, the preacher. Okay, so I have heard so many like, I should have just gone back and reread the chapter, but I was probably just listening to it and just kind of ignored everything that was happening because everything was confusing at that point. What happened? Because Gabe said one thing that made me go like, Whoa, is that what happened? And then the YouTube video said another thing that mentioned the gun but didn't mention that it was gun rape. So I have no idea what happened in that scene.
So we also disagreed.
My feeling of it was that he physically violates her with the gun.
Okay, because I thought he just, like shot her.
I mean, that might also I'm actually unclear on whether the gun goes off.
don't think the gun goes off. I don't think it does. Like I don't I don't think he actually shoots at all. I think that he just sticks the gun in her. Right. So
when I read it, I thought that he was just pointing it at her from between her legs because there's a line where he says he makes sure her secret flesh does not touch him. And I was like, oh, so Stephen King is saying Don't worry, guys. It's not actual penetration. So that makes it okay, right. But then I realized that it's him that it's not touching, not the gun. So maybe the gun is still involved in it. Yeah,
like Jesus. I definitely read it as like his hands are not in her. But his gun is right. Okay, there's
the line about how her body is trying to take it in. Because of course she's still a horse even during this awful moment. Yeah, because she's a woman. Yeah, also, yeah. What was happening there? Not sure.
So I had her when I watched the YouTube video, the guy kind of explained some I don't know if I would call it lore or what but so from what it sounds like all the people in this world are like part of this world where people have mutations and have all these like genetic kind of disorders and everything is just really messed up. But apparently it is kind of hinted at in this book, that the gunslinger the man and black and that lady are not from this world. And so they all kind of have this, I guess, supernatural attraction to the people around them in this world where everybody is kind of messed up physically, and they're the only ones who are like, if you notice when the gunslinger goes into the bar, when he first walks into that saloon, it kind of mentions how everybody there has some sort of like physical defect or maybe mental something's going on with each and every one of them and he's pretty much like the only really healthy person that's gone in there and like everybody's like staring at him. He's like this person from Another planet, it seems like to them. And so that's, again, it's just from a YouTube video I was watching, but he was kind of explaining some of the lore behind that, I guess and why, why they're so different than the people around them.
I didn't realize that the preacher was one of them.
Yeah, I didn't get that about the preacher either.
I mean, except that she was beautiful. And he was into her. Maybe that was the hint.
Yeah, it was kind of subtle. And that's kind of why I mentioned that everybody else has, like, physical defects is because she doesn't, and it's like, 100% normal in this world for everyone to have some sort of mutation, because, you know, whatever happened in the past, you know, a big atomic bomb or whatever, it's, it's caused some sort of, you know, big thing throughout the whole population. And so, I don't know, that's kind of where he was going with it is that the book had described her as like, you know, what someone would consider like a perfect physically person,
I guess. Interesting.
I mean, but at the same time, the gunslingers, like disgusted by what she looks like, like he's super attracted to her, but he's also repulsed by her. Yeah, I don't know. It was it was just weird. It was a weird. Yeah, it was very weird. is interesting.
Having it confirmed, though, that he is. So the worlds in this world. At this point, pretty unclear. They talk about coming from different places. And I was unsure if he was just from somewhere really far away. Or if it was actually a different, like plane of existence or a different time, because Jake is definitely from Yeah, you know, the, quote, modern world. But again, is that a different time? Is that a different universe? It's not clear yet.
My interpretation. I don't have anything to back this up. This is just from reading the first book, this is what I thought. I thought that the gunslinger is from the past, but the slow way. He has lived a lot of years chasing the man in black. Yeah. So he's just super, super old. And the world has evolved around him interest in ways that involve mutations or threadings, or whatever, whatever the term for it is and world, Jake is from not a different time, but a different
world. From like ours, basically. Yeah.
From like, our our modern world, but it is a separate world. It's not just a separate time. Yeah. Okay. That was how I interpreted that. Yeah, whether or not that's right, I really couldn't say, because I haven't read the series. I've only read this one book.
Yeah, I think kind of what I was thinking was, I think he's from a different world than what we see in the desert, because he talks about the desert being essentially infinite is kind of what it sounded like, like, like, this is the world like this desert is the world. And when it does the flashback describing where he grew up, it was so like, completely different than anything else. We see. He's like living in this castle. And didn't they have like an electric stove or something like that? Yeah. They had some modern things. And so my guess would be that he grew up in that world. And then while he was chasing, because I would guess that he was chasing the, the man in black through all the different realities that this guy is opening up, because that's what this whole series is supposed to be about all these parallel realities, that are kind of conjoined on this dark tower. And we saw that the man in black basically, technically he killed him, but he kind of pulled Jake from his world into this one is what I gathered.
Yeah, see, I didn't think that they were actually in a different world. I thought that the difference in scenery, and the difference in like technology levels was because just a shit ton of time had passed more time than we are aware of as the reader, like pre apocalypse. Yeah, like like years and years and years and years. Like centuries,
I had a different interpretation. I thought it was just a quirk of the civilization that we see in the bulk of this book is surrounded by such a huge desert, that it might as well be completely isolated, because there is no longer a way of getting through the desert. Like 50 years ago, I think they even say that a couple of people were alive when they remember trains, like trains, were not that distant, I think. Or maybe that was a pony express situation. But there it used to be that you could get through the desert, but now that technology has sort of devolved or broken down to such an extent that the only thing to do is walk and that will kill you. So they're basically completely isolated. That was the impression I got and so he grew up in a place on the other side of the desert, which might as well be a different universe?
That's true. Yeah.
I think it's funny how we have such distinct ideas about what's going on here. Well,
that is kind of the cool thing about this book, right? Like, again, not my favorite read of the year. But that is something that it does really well, I think, because it kind of sets you in this world. And it doesn't tell you what's going on. And I kind of wonder if it ever will. And so it kind of leaves it up to you to decide, like, what is going on here? Like, what is this world, they're living in this desert in the western, you know, in like a Western setting. But they also have like blue jeans. He's living in a castle, but they have an electric stove like it it really, it really does a lot to like, make you have to think about it. Yeah, it's that's the kind
of ambiguity that I like, yeah, right. It doesn't really matter how the gunslinger got here. What matters is that he's clearly an interloper, so to speak,
oh, my God.
And he's from very far away. And somehow he got here. And I kind of loved how simple the basic plot of the book was. Man finding man. Like, that's it. That's the whole book as he is punting the man in black. Because that was so straightforward. All of the ambiguity around it was still anchored to this extremely concrete, comprehensible thing. And that really helped me get through the book where I think otherwise, all of these questions might have made me get lost otherwise, I mean, I still didn't understand what was going on. But I was able to just like, be lost and follow the plot.
But you brought up Jake, and he was probably my favorite character.
I'm not sure I needed to be told quite in quite such gruesome graphic detail what happened to him when he transferred over to the world of the gunslinger.
You don't want to read about children dying violently?
Not quite in that level of detail.
Remind me what it was.
He gets run over.
Yeah, he gets run over. But we hear about, like, how all of it feels, and how like, he tastes the shit in his mouth. Oh, and it happens. And it was just it was a lot. Yeah.
He heard his own spine break. Yeah, it's not fun.
It was just more than I was expecting. I mean, like, at that point, we had seen some, a lot of death. But most of the death of toll was not described in that level of graphic detail. Yeah, I feel. So like, it was just kind of not what I was
kind of out of nowhere. Yeah.
I mean, it was upsetting and tragic. But it just made me feel more bad for Jake, which I think was the point. Like, he's this very last kid who experienced his own death and then woke up in this literal hellscape. Yeah, I found the Falcon scene much more upsetting. Oh, yeah.
I mean, the Falcon scene was upsetting too. But by that point, like, I wasn't surprised that there was graphic depictions of violence, because we had had Jake Yeah, it was the fact that like, we hadn't had anything like that that made me so it's like, I don't
think it was how graphic the Falcon scene was. I think it was how heartless it was. Yes, it was pretty heartless Jake gets run over but it's an accident. You know, no one is murdering this child on purpose. Well, man and black. Okay. The Man in Black is but not the people running him over. Versus the gunslinger going into a duel. And his only weapon? Is this Falcon
who is befriended? Yeah,
he was his friend
is elderly Falcon. Yeah. And
he's like, oh, you know, he's not very good anymore. So I guess I can just fling him at this person who will murder it. Yeah. And that's not courts fault. He had a falcon flung at his face. Also would probably try to murder it. Yeah, I had a bad flung in my face. But like, shit, dude. That was rough. That wasn't about Jake though, who I meant to talk about.
We got distracted,
I got distracted. So Jake is this last kid that the gunslinger finds in the middle of the desert, and we later find out that the man in black sent Jake to this world in order to give the gunslinger a weakness basically, which is heartless. But he's the villain. He's allowed to be heartless. But I loved that Jake did not let the gunslinger like get away with any of his bullshit. I feel like a lot of people are kind of like starstruck by the gunslinger. Uh, in this book and it got a little tiring. And Jake definitely, like experienced hero worship, but he's a kid. Yeah, you know, that didn't bother me at all. But when the gunslinger is like, basically decides, yeah, I'm gonna have to sacrifice this kid to get to my goal. And Jake realizes that's what's going on. And he fucking calls him on it. Yeah,
that was great. Yeah,
that was good, but I wanted it to have more impact like the gunslinger just kind of ignores it like there's no introspection, there's there's no like there's no inner conflict. He doesn't think about what Jake says beyond a cursory Yeah, he's right. I am just gonna sacrifice him like it didn't. It didn't hit emotionally. Yeah, the way that I wanted it to.
And that's kind of what I meant earlier by some of the pacing kind of bothered me a little bit things happening too fast. Because I think for me, just their relationship in general was very weird. Like, they had two scenes with each other, I think. And then something happens. The Gunslinger is running out of that cave or whatever. And he hugs the boy and it's like, and that's when the gunslinger realized he loved the child. And I'm like, but they've like, why, like, it's not like I don't know it's not like he sees something in this kid like his long lost son or something like Why Why does he care for the kid that much? Like this is just somebody he found out in the desert, like, why is this happening so fast? And then especially what what you just said about this kid, you know, saying like, I'm a poker chip or whatever. It's like, okay, like I would have liked to have that happen over like their journey throughout the desert like this slow like coming to terms with I do care for this kid and then slowly realizing like, the only way I'm gonna get to the man in black is if I if I use, you know, Jake to get there. And there was just none of that. Like when Jake ended up falling off the bridge or whatever. I was just kind of like, okay, like by Jake, you know? Yes.
Oh, that was so anticlimactic. Yeah, I agree with everything you guys have said. I loved Jake. I did not believe for a second the gunslinger things he claimed he did. Yeah. It was very till and not show.
Yeah, yeah, there was there was just so much like emotional distance. Like, I just I just didn't believe that they had a relationship beyond two people who just happened to be traveling together.
Right? How do you even like heartbreaking emotional distance? Yeah, it could have been the gunslinger refusing to invest his heart in this kid because he's knows he's just gonna die. Right? Could have been tragic, right? And they spend so much time building up that the gunslinger is going to have to kill Jake in order to get to the man in black. And I was like, Okay, you can't go through that experience and not have some introspection. Like that's gonna be a great scene. And then we get to it. And Jake just falls off a bridge. Yeah, the gunslinger doesn't even do anything.
Yeah, like he could have taken a second to pull him back up or something and then keep running off after the man in black. Or even after
all of this time building up and the narration that like, the gunslinger is going to have to sacrifice Jake. Like make it make it more active than just Jake falling off of bridge. Make the gunslinger actually part of killing him? Yeah.
If it was like they were both on the bridge, and they were too heavy and only one of them was gonna be able to get through. Yeah, like gunslinger pushed him off.
Yeah, that'd be awesome. That
would have Yeah, that would have made me feel some. Yeah. But instead Jake's like, save me. I think the exact line of dialogue is novel, which Sucks to suck. It's just such an anticlimactic ending for this character that I really, part of what I loved was how I was dreading his ending. And the ending was just nothing.
Yeah, well, Jake seemed to have more emotional depths than any of the other characters, even though the whole book was basically from the gunslingers point of view. I feel like we felt Jake's emotions more. Yeah. And so it made him a lot easier to empathize with and and to, like, invest in him as a character than the gunslinger who, for all that he was the point of view character felt very, like distant, shallow and shallow. Yeah,
We have a couple of actually very good things to talk about. And only a little bit of complaining left. So speaking of big letdown, One of the other things that the book really built up was the conflict with the man in black. And then we got to that and it was just a big ol monologue.
It was I feel like the most info dumpy section of the book.
See I think this is where my opinion is gonna differ slightly from your guys's because I was certainly expecting like a big shootout or something right? Like we're all expecting this big action scene. And for all we know that's happening later in the series. But, you know, we're kind of expecting it in this book. Like there's so much antagonism between them, we expect this big explosion, but they meet up and they kind of sit by a campfire and talk about the way the world is. And, and even though that was a little disappointing, I really like if there's one part of this book that I really liked. It was that info dumpy kind of monologue I loved, where like the the man in black is talking about how we're a blade of grass in a sea of other blades of grass. And if that blade of grass gets cut, that's where you start to see like the the leaf itself will deteriorate. And that's what's happening to this world. And that's why all these people have like these mutations, and that's why everything is a desert and all this stuff. It's because somebody severed the connection metaphorically to our blade of grass in this world is dying. And I loved I love that whole thing. I don't I don't know why, but it just intrigued me a lot. And then the whole thing about the infinite universes and everything.
I think it was a great concept. But again, like with so much in this book, I feel like the execution let me down.
I feel like that monologue was just so entirely for the audience, and not for the gunslinger. Like, really early on. The Man in Black uses the word universe. And the gunslinger is like, what is that word? I've never heard it before. Is it poetry?
Right? Yeah, I remember that. And then later,
he's talking about, like, nuclei and Nebula and the gunslingers just like, Yeah, that's fine.
If he ever the gunslinger is familiar with Nebula, he should be familiar with the universe. I don't think it out there.
I don't know that he was though because I think at least not before the dream or whatever the man in black showed him because remember, I think the gunslinger falls asleep. And then the man in black like shows him all these universes like taking him way out there to like, the I think the last thing he saw was like a sun with all these rocks around it and stuff. And it was like blowing his mind. And so I kind of wonder if that was meant to be the gunslinger's like awakening to all of these things. And then he kind of goes on this whole monologue.
I love that idea. I hope that's what was supposed to be what I saw on the page did not get me there.
Right? Yeah, fair.
Again, like, great concept, especially if it is going to what you detailed. Poor execution. Yeah. Could have could have been more like what you said. Yeah. And unless like what we got on the page.
I don't know if like with this, and then also with Jake's death, if this is what a climax is, like, in the Gunslinger, I don't know why all those women were trying to sleep it seems like setting themselves up for disappointment. Yeah. I would if he at least had had some introspection, like, I know, anyone, like a mental one liner about? Whoa, who knew? I feel like it could have gone a long way. Yeah,
I mean, I think that's genuinely or generally what our complaints about this book boil down to like, we just we wanted more introspection from the gunslinger from the characters in this book.
But yeah, I think you know, you're you're absolutely right. It could have done with more introspection because we got virtually none from him. And that's why he felt like such a shallow kind of one note character. And there's lots of interesting things in his life, like, like the whole rite of passage of him having to not kill his mentor, but like, have this whole fight to be the next gunslinger. Like I was extremely interested in that. But that's something cool that happened to him. I would have loved to have had, like, there was no introspection, like leading up to that, like, I've got to prove myself or like I need to get out of this town. So I need to become a gunslinger now, or like, you know, all these different ways it could have gone it was just like suddenly he's like, Yeah, I got to become a gunslinger right now and I need, I need to get my guns and I need to, you know, do this whole rite of passage and it's like, okay, like I guess
predicated entirely because he found out his mom is sleeping with the man in black. And he's like my mother, no, gotta go kill some bitches.
I've really for a book that is such a close third person. And it is so much told from the gunslingers point of view, we never get any sense of how he feels. Just what is happening to him.
He's too madly for feeling.
And I think that's, that's a real weakness of this book, like, this book would be so much stronger. If we actually had that emotional connection to what was going on. In his, you know, in our thoughts. Yeah. In his in that inner dialogue, like if we actually felt what he was feeling instead of just being at a distance removed from from everything. Yeah.
Is that a flaw
of this book trying to mimic the old western genre, because that's just all sorts of, you know, stoic, rugged men doing stoic, rugged, manly stuff.
Yeah. But I think that that can be done well, like, I think, like, look at I don't know if you guys have ever played The Last of Us. But like Joel, from The Last of Us, he is a great archetype of that. But you still get like a lot of you know what he's feeling in that game in that story. And so I think that that archetype can be done really well, whether it's a Western or a grim, dark, or epic fantasy, or whatever. I just think that I honestly think that this book was just too early on in Kings career. I think that's really what it was.
So that's an interesting point. Because my question was, is it too early in the series, one of the things that we had been talking about was that there's no character growth, which is kind of similar to introspection would have at least been a step towards growth, right? Yeah. And is that because this is so early on in the series, he used this book to establish the character, and then we see him grow and learn as the series goes on. But we need a hint, you got a hit, if you expect me to read more. I mean, like, like not,
again, not having read the rest of the series, I really can't say whether or not he grows in that respect. But as a first novel, not having any kind of hint as to the gunslingers in her life. And inner emotions, makes me less inclined to move on to book two. And I feel like you need that hook. Yeah, of knowing. Even if his actions don't change, you know, even if even if he's not actually growing as a character changing as a character just having access to that, like internal thought process. Yeah. You need to feel more for the character in order to want to move on to book two. And I didn't get that from this book. For sure. Yeah.
Yep. I agree completely. This is one of those things. Okay. I only bring this up. Because you mentioned Spencer, the Dresden Files earlier. Yeah. And I had sort of a similar reaction to the first Dresden Files book, which we read fairly recently. That's fair. Yeah. I was assured that the character does grow and things do develop. Oh, yeah. First Book did not give me enough of that. But you know, hearing that it happens. I'm willing to give the series another shot. Right. I don't know anything about the dark powers. Yeah. So maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. But it would still be nice if the author gave us some reassurance.
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I can only speak for for the Dresden Files. I mean, by the time you get to like, you know it, it happens in smaller ways earlier on in the series, but especially by the time you get to like book five or six, you are completely hooked on these characters. And you've had multiple moments of introspection and very, very emotional moments with especially Harry. And so yeah, I think you would, I think you would love this series. If you do keep going with it.
See, and having that recommendation makes me so much more likely to pick up the next book. And, you know, the first book had issues but it wasn't anything quite as off putting
up the Dresden Files was genuinely very fun. Yeah. In a way that I'm not sure I would categorize the gunslinger
No, and that's that's kind of what I was thinking about today because the Gunslinger, like as a character Uh, I think he is supposed to be this western kind of shoot 'em up like rogue, you know, man's man kind of character. And that can be fun, but it's just it just wasn't filled out enough in this book. If you're
going to have a character like that you need more depth. Oh, yeah. And, and the gunslinger. And really all of the characters in this book, The world felt very, like involved and built out. But the characters themselves felt very shallow to me, except for Jake. For Jake, who dies, and we may or may not see him again. Jury's out on that.
Yeah, I'm sure he'll be back. I'm pretty sure he's part of the larger story going forward. But yeah, I would say I would say the hook it like if the hook doesn't lie with the characters, which it should like I'm, I'm a character reader. I definitely think the hook should lie with the characters. But if it doesn't, I think for this book, maybe this series, the hook really lies with the world. And even though we don't know a lot about it right now, it's interesting enough to make me wonder like, what's outside this desert? Like, what is the tower? Really? What is the big bad? Really, you know, and so it kind of asked those questions. And, you know, the, honestly, the more, as much as I didn't like this book, the more I talk about it, I'm kinda like, I think I might pick up book two. Just to try it like just just to see what happens because I, you know, especially that whole thing at the end, it made me really curious. And I hope that Stephen King does. I mean, obviously, he grows eventually into the author he is now but I hope that, you know, in the next couple of books, he grows into, you know, a better author. And I've just heard from so many people that they're like, you know, it's one of those series where you just have to keep reading until until it gets better. And as someone who reads the Dresden Files and reads King Stark tidings, and I'm often the one who says, You got to get to book two, or you got to get the book for something like, I understand that. So I could understand that being the case where you, you just have to get to book two or something to see what makes the series so special.
Well, now I'm feeling like we need to have a follow up episode for book two.
Are we gonna be able to convince Gabe to read book two?
No, there's no way he did not like his book. And as soon as I started it, I knew that it would not be a gay book. As soon as I was like a chapter and I'm like, gates, not probably not gonna enjoy this. And that's, that's fine. He doesn't enjoy every book that we do on the podcast, but at least
it wasn't too many pages. Oh, yeah. It was super
I feel like we've turned around on this series. How did that? Oops.
We actually liked this book. I don't know.
I wouldn't go that far.
No, definitely not.
I mean, I but I feel like that's one of the joys of discussing a book, or a podcast episode is that as you go through the discussion, like you kind of clarify your feelings, and you're like, oh, actually, some of these things that I really didn't like about it, I still don't like, but I can see the value in it. Right. And I can see some of the value in the series. And maybe I've changed my mind of about whether or not I want to continue. So yeah, like that's one of the fun things about doing a podcast. Yeah.
For sure that Stephen King said he wanted to write the longest book in history. I mean, I don't know how long it's gonna take to get good. I am not
arguing that we should read all the books for the podcast.
If Book Two was not good, I would absolutely not read book three. Yeah,
this is the type of thing that I am probably going to go spend a lot of time on Wikipedia, because I want to know what happens but I have no patience. themselves.
No, go check out what was that for? For the love of reading. He does a recap for each book. And he has like pictures and stuff and it's nice. Yeah. And it was like like a scene by scene recap of this entire book. And I'm like, man, like I would honestly just listen to him recap each book because that is like way better than what I experienced.
Okay, that is Stephen King in a nutshell. Me so interesting. I want to know more but I do not want Stephen King to be the one to tell me the story right? Yeah, that like I love Kubrick's The Shining. It's so good. So I was like, Oh, I'll read the book. I'll have to like this one.
Right. People liked the movie more.
So much more. Yeah, much better. Yeah. Yeah. I could not stand the book. And I was like, Wow. I know this is a me problem or a generational problem. But I definitely did think of the Men in Black every time that this book said Man in Black,
right, I know. I didn't actually think of that at
all. Really? Yeah.
Pugs. There's pugs in that movie. There were
no pugs in the Gunslinger, which may be why I didn't think of it. Right. That's the real fault of the book. Yeah, I mean, this. It is it is true that this book would have been 100% improved by the addition of a pug. Yeah, for sure. Which I think one can fairly say about most books
that why wasn't there some sort of animal companion when he had his What do you have like a hawk or something in the flashback? The Falcon, yeah, Falcon, I thought that he was going to have like this Falcon companion for the rest of the book. And I was so bummed when it died by way of face feeding.
That's because companionship is for pussies.
He also has the donkey which also dies. Yeah,
immediately and then confused as Lily for the rest of the book when it shows up in flashbacks. Yeah, no, any kind of emotion would have been nice. I know. That's part of this book. Having been like a young, a young man's like fantasy, right? Like, he's just so cool and hardcore. No, the women want him and he doesn't feel anything. And all he does is kill people and get laid.