*There will likely be some spoilers in this post. I can only promise that they won’t be too major*
This Raven is super excited, to the point of exploding and spewing happiness all over creation. What has her so excited you may wonder? My Nerd Mecca is finally slotted to be made into a series of movies.
The Dark Tower series. Six feature films and a complementary TV series. For those who haven’t heard, this Raven is an avid, and sometimes rabid, Stephen King fan and the Dark Tower is King’s magnum opus, his epic ultimate story of all stories. It has it all, western/science fiction/ horror/fantasy themes, horrible creatures, twisted plots, real characters and crossovers to so many different fictional worlds that it makes your head spin.
The seven book series took him over twenty years to complete starting with the release of The Gunslinger in 1982 and ending with The Dark Tower in 2004. In 2012 King released an 8th book in the series called The Wind Through the Keyhole, which actually fits in somewhere in between the fourth book and the last three.
This series is, without a doubt, King’s great epic. Marvel comics picked it up and created some terrific graphic novels and there is also a dedicated website with an interactive game (Discordia) based on the story. The series brought King’s universe together, with characters and situations appearing from other stories across the board.
One of my first posts on this blog included a poem by Robert Browning titled Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came. That poem was what inspired King to begin writing the story of Roland Deschain, the world’s last gunslinger, and his quest to find the Dark Tower which is the nexus point of all universes and is in danger of being destroyed. The destruction of the Tower would equal the destruction of all worlds and realities in existence.
In The Gunslinger, the reader is introduced to the gunslinger as he tracks the man in black across “the apotheosis of all deserts”. The first line in the story is, in my humble opinion, the best opening line ever put to paper: “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” The gunslinger finally catches up with the man in black, at the expense of the boy, Jake, whom he lets fall to his death under the mountains. Jake’s last words before the gunslinger lets him fall are “Go then, there are other world’s than these”. During the confrontation, the conversation between the gunslinger and the man in black blew my 14 year old mind and continues to blow my adult mind every time I read it.
The first book ends with the gunslinger sitting on the beach of the Western Sea and contemplating what the man in black told him. The second book, The Drawing of the Three, begins right where the first left off on the shores of the Western Sea. The gunslinger wakes up to an attack by mutant lobsters dubbed “lobstrosities” that take two fingers from his hand and one of his toes before he is able to escape them. While struggling with the infection from the lobster-monster’s bite, Roland must continue down the beach searching for the magical doors of which the man in black spoke and from which he will draw his new companions for his quest.
The first door that the gunslinger comes to on the beach is labeled “The Prisoner”. Opening the door sends Roland into the mind of Eddie Dean, a 23 year old heroine addict living in 1984 New York (if you have ever seen the movie Being John Malcovich you will recognize the premise of these doors). Eddie is easily one of my favorite characters in this series regardless of his drug problem, which he does overcome, though not by choice.
After an epic gun battle in which Eddie fights mobster/drug bosses while nude after they killed his brother, the great sage and eminent junkie Henry Dean, Eddie and the gunslinger go through the door to the beach and Eddie is part of the gunslingers ka-tet from then on.
The second door is marked “The Lady of the Shadows”. This door leads Roland into the dual mind of Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker, a legless black women with a split personality living in 1964 New York. Odetta Holmes is a well-to-do woman with a large trust fund and aspirations of being a civil rights freedom fighter. Detta Walker is a trashy, volatile woman who gets her kicks shoplifting from stores that Odetta could easily afford to shop in, as well as antagonizing “honk mahfahs”. The contrast between the two characters is amazing, the dialogue of Detta Walker is like a stereotype of Butterfly McQueen in Gone With The Wind. Roland brings Odetta back through the door in her wheelchair, and it is not until later that they meet Detta.
Behind the third door is death “but not for you gunslinger, never for you”. The third door leads Roland into the mind of Jack Mort, the Pusher. Mort is a psychopathic accountant who spends his free time pushing people in front of cars or pushing things out windows onto people walking below.
*BIG SPOILER ALERT*
Jack Mort pushed a brick onto a young Odetta Holmes’ head while she was walking with her parents, causing a coma and the fracturing of her mind leading to the birth of Detta Walker. Mort is also responsible for the loss of Odetta/Detta’s legs after he pushed her in front of an oncoming subway train in 1960. Finally, Mort is also the man responsible for the boy, Jake, ending up in Mid-World at the way station in the desert where he meets Roland in the first book.
When Roland enters Mort’s mind he learns all his sick exploits from accessing the man’s thoughts. He sees Jake, preparing to cross the street and he feels Mort preparing to shove Jake into the path of an oncoming car where he will be killed. Roland, unable to watch the boy die a second time, takes control of Mort and prevents this from happening, creating an alternate timeline in both his own mind and Jake’s. This comes into play in the third book, The Wastelands when Roland and Jake both remember two chains of events that are slowly driving them both mad. At the end of The Drawing of the Three, Roland manages to force a confrontation between Odetta and Detta, creating a third woman who is the best of both, Susannah.
The Wastelands begins a short time after the events on the beach at the end of the second book. The reader is reintroduced to Jake Chambers, a twelve year old boy who lives in 1977 New York who died in the street and woke up at the way station in the desert alone. But thanks to Roland’s actions in the second book, Jake remembers both dying and not dying, and he is slowly losing his mind due to this paradox. A lot of crazy stuff happens (way too much to explain here) and Jake is able to join the ka-tet finally, but at the cost of nearly being eaten alive by a demonic house/gatekeeper as well as Susannah being forced to have sex with an incubus demon while Roland and Eddie pull Jake through.
After Jake’s drawing into Mid-World, the group travels through a post apocalyptic city called Lud (rhymes with crud) in search of a psychotic talking train named Blaine. On the approach to this city they see a WWII plane with a swastika on the side crashed with the mummified pilot still in the cockpit, only one of MANY contrasts and links to our world.
This blog post is now obscenely long and I have only covered the first three books of this epic series. This series is my Star Wars or Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. When it was announced that the movies are actually going to happen I had a nerd fit (LOL).
I usually do not partake in this pastime of “casting” the actors I think should play which characters, but this one time I have to. I have read that Russell Crowe may be cast as the gunslinger, and I have to say outright that I sincerely hope they rethink that. Eric Bana would be a nice fit, it is just a damn shame that Clint Eastwood is too old for the part now, because he is literally the mold King used to create Roland. Please not Russell Crowe!
The only other opinion I have about casting is for Eddie Dean, he should definitely be played by Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. That guy was born to play this role and I really mean that.
Ok, I really have to stop, this post has nearly 2,000 words now. This is definitely the longest post I have ever done on this blog. If you haven’t read them, get the books and read them, then join me and millions of others who are nearly salivating for these movies to get done. Also, visit the website linked at the beginning of this post.