#1 Posted by Thrillhouse87 (247 posts) -

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King are books that keep getting mentioned when people talk about their favorite books of al time, including on this site. I have been thinking about jumping into it for quite a while, but the number of volumes kinda intimidates me. I want to ask people who have read it, does the quality stay high trough the whole series, and if not where should I stop, and will I still have a satisfying conclusion?

#2 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

well... first three books are the best in the series. I dislike 4 and 6, though I like 5 and somewhat like 7. I mean, I definitely think 6 is the worst though.

as far as satisfying conclusions go... I actually liked the conclusion of 7 though I realize that this is controversial, many people dislike it because it doesn't bring very much closure honestly, but who knows, you may like it?

#3 Posted by Beb (260 posts) -

I read the whole series, and really felt the quality when downhill after King got hit by a truck in real life. I forget how many books there are, but the last two or three, which came after that accident, felt pretty mediocre to me. I was pretty underwhelmed by the ending, not necessarily because of what happens, so much as the way things sort of play out. By the end I just didn't care anymore, but YMMY.

#4 Posted by BaneFireLord (2957 posts) -

First three books were great. I stopped in the middle of the fourth. Stupid extended flashback sequences.

#5 Posted by Galiant (2195 posts) -

I liked the ending. You won't get a "satisfying conclusion" from stopping in the middle of it since it is very much about reaching the tower and all that.

There were a few things related to his accident that made for some stupid parts in the series, but the rest I thought was great.

#6 Posted by Cyrus_Saren (540 posts) -

Everyone seems to say that the fourth book is when the quality drops. I, however, think that it is the fifth book since I find the fourth to be the best one in the series.

The ending is very controversial although I enjoyed it. People ended up disliking it because, as Animasta said, it doesn't bring much closure.

#7 Posted by ZombiePie (5746 posts) -

Stop by Wizard and Glass.

Moderator
#8 Edited by Silver-Streak (1382 posts) -

@ZombiePie: Wizard and Glass is probably the weakest book, as it's all backstory.

@Thrillhouse87: That being said, I love the Dark Tower series as a whole. Roland's story is fucked on all sides, partially of his own doing. In my opinion, it is probably King's best work in general, although, as mentioned, there are some weakpoints.

The main recommendation I would give you is that the first book was originally a series of short stories published in magazines, so it is a bit of a good but odd read. Make it to the 2nd book, which is where it starts getting truly awesome.

#9 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@Eujin: it's not even close to his best work IMO.

Under the Dome, Stand, It, all better.

#10 Posted by kermoosh (911 posts) -

@Animasta said:

well... first three books are the best in the series. I dislike 4 and 6, though I like 5 and somewhat like 7. I mean, I definitely think 6 is the worst though.

as far as satisfying conclusions go... I actually liked the conclusion of 7 though I realize that this is controversial, many people dislike it because it doesn't bring very much closure honestly, but who knows, you may like it?

you said you disliked 4 and 6. are they bad in comparison to the other 'great books' or just bad in general? cus i was thinking of picking this series up

#11 Edited by Silver-Streak (1382 posts) -

@Animasta: Stand and Dark Tower are intrinsically linked. "It" is ok but drags, and I never really enjoyed Under the Dome. However, I respect your opinion, and have edited my original post to clarify that I feel it to be as such.

#12 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@kermoosh: the biggest problem of 4 is that it's 90% backstory. It's certainly interesting but the pacing was killed pretty severely. the biggest problem of 6 is that, well, nothing REALLY happens.

honestly, I'd try out the first three; regardless of whether you continue or not, still great books. If you're interested in Roland's backstory than read 4, and I'd honestly just read a wikipedia summary of 6.

@Eujin: fair enough! his books are different enough that everyone can have a favorite (if I'm being honest, Duma Key is probably my favorite specifically because of the first half and wireman)

#13 Posted by kermoosh (911 posts) -

@Animasta: thanks bro, i'll probably look into the series now

#14 Posted by wrecks (2318 posts) -

Loved the entire series. All.

#15 Posted by JordanK85 (140 posts) -

I've only read the first 5 books and have been reluctant to finish the series because I always hear the ending isn't very good. I'm probably one of the rare people who actually like book 4 and think that book 2 is too slow. To be fair to book 2, though, that's where the main group of characters get together so it's understandable. If I had to rank the books, from best to worst, I'd go 3, 1, 4, 2, 5 and obviously I don't know where 6 and 7 would go. If I were you I'd read the first 3 and then decide from there if you want to finish.

As far as where this series ranks in King's fiction as a whole I'd say it's some of his best. I've read over 30 of his books--yes, I counted--and if you're really into King you'll want to read the Dark Tower just to see all the crazy ways in which the series ties into a large portion of his writing, both as Stephen King and as Richard Bachman.

#16 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@JordanK85: the ending of dark tower is fine, but only if you're okay with an ending with more symbolism than closure.

the ending is supposed to lead right into the poem he based it off of actually (childe roland to the dark tower came or whatever it was)

#17 Posted by GeekDown (1170 posts) -

I've read all of them and overall I loved the series. Of course it has some ups and downs considering how huge it is. But I say read it or at least give the first book a try. You'll probably be hooked after it.

#18 Posted by mandude (2666 posts) -

Book one can seem kind of aimless, but it's still pretty good. Book two and three are probably my favourites. Book four is mind-numbingly slow, but book five, six and seven pick up again.

#19 Posted by Apparatus_Unearth (3243 posts) -

@Beb said:

I read the whole series, and really felt the quality when downhill after King got hit by a truck in real life. I forget how many books there are, but the last two or three, which came after that accident, felt pretty mediocre to me. I was pretty underwhelmed by the ending, not necessarily because of what happens, so much as the way things sort of play out. By the end I just didn't care anymore, but YMMY.

I assume you mean YMMV?

#20 Posted by Beb (260 posts) -

Yep.

#21 Posted by Breadfan (6590 posts) -

I've been meaning to read the Dark Tower series, for a long while. I am currently reading The Stand by Stephen King and will probably jump into the Dark Tower books afterward.

#22 Posted by SomethingClever (423 posts) -

Dark Tower is probably my favorite series. The first book (The Gunslinger ) made a major impression on me at am early age and is absolutely my favorite book. Not if the series, just in general. And I loved the way the series ended. It was pretty perfect. I read them all every year and frequently listen to the audio books too.

I also read all of Kings other work enjoying finding connections to the Dark Tower, Sometimes the connections are a little vague or a stretch but nearly every book can be tied in somehow.

#23 Edited by Aegon (5821 posts) -

@kermoosh said:

@Animasta: thanks bro, i'll probably look into the series now

She's not a bro.

:o

#24 Posted by kermoosh (911 posts) -

@Aegon said:

@kermoosh said:

@Animasta: thanks bro, i'll probably look into the series now

She's not a bro.

:o

well that's the internet for you

#25 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@SomethingClever said:

Dark Tower is probably my favorite series. The first book (The Gunslinger ) made a major impression on me at am early age and is absolutely my favorite book. Not if the series, just in general. And I loved the way the series ended. It was pretty perfect. I read them all every year and frequently listen to the audio books too.

I also read all of Kings other work enjoying finding connections to the Dark Tower, Sometimes the connections are a little vague or a stretch but nearly every book can be tied in somehow.

it's true, it gets pretty silly at times however.

like in 11/22/63 when bev and... richie from It asked the MC if followed the path of the turtle

#26 Posted by Barrock (3553 posts) -

@SomethingClever said:

Dark Tower is probably my favorite series. The first book (The Gunslinger ) made a major impression on me at am early age and is absolutely my favorite book. Not if the series, just in general. And I loved the way the series ended. It was pretty perfect. I read them all every year and frequently listen to the audio books too.

I also read all of Kings other work enjoying finding connections to the Dark Tower, Sometimes the connections are a little vague or a stretch but nearly every book can be tied in somehow.

Yeah. One of the major reasons I love King's work is it's almost all tied into his other stuff.

#27 Posted by Gerhabio (1977 posts) -

Have any of you read "RAGE"? First Stephen King book I've ever picked up and it is pretty good so far.

#28 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@Gerhabio: I think rage is out of print at this point because it supposedly directly inspired a school shooting (stephen king himself pulled it that is).

if you like rage, you may like the other bachmann books; Long Walk in particular.

#29 Posted by Deusx (1910 posts) -

You'll be having the time of your life until you reach book 5... Then it all goes down hill.

#30 Posted by Barrock (3553 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Gerhabio: I think rage is out of print at this point because it supposedly directly inspired a school shooting (stephen king himself pulled it that is).

if you like rage, you may like the other bachmann books; Long Walk in particular.

Desperation is my favorite.

#31 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@Barrock said:

@Animasta said:

@Gerhabio: I think rage is out of print at this point because it supposedly directly inspired a school shooting (stephen king himself pulled it that is).

if you like rage, you may like the other bachmann books; Long Walk in particular.

Desperation is my favorite.

desperation was a king book, it was the regulators which was the bachmann book.

the regulators was fuckin batshit insane but definitely not as good

#32 Posted by rentfn (1288 posts) -

I started reading this series a month ago. I'm halfway through The Wasteland. I would recommend it.

#33 Posted by Karkarov (3268 posts) -

It is a good book series but in the last few he seriously starts jumping the shark in a number of ways. If you like book one and two it is worth staying in for the long haul. Just don't expect a great satisfying conclusion. In fact my honest advice is that when you get to the point where King writes "The End, unless you just have to keep reading but you really really shouldn't!" you take his advice and don't read the last 3-5 pages of the book.

#34 Posted by Animasta (14719 posts) -

@Karkarov said:

It is a good book series but in the last few he seriously starts jumping the shark in a number of ways. If you like book one and two it is worth staying in for the long haul. Just don't expect a great satisfying conclusion. In fact my honest advice is that when you get to the point where King writes "The End, unless you just have to keep reading but you really really shouldn't!" you take his advice and don't read the last 3-5 pages of the book.

I don't think anyone actually stopped if they got THAT far.

(I like that ending anyway though!)

#35 Posted by Karkarov (3268 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Karkarov said:

It is a good book series but in the last few he seriously starts jumping the shark in a number of ways. If you like book one and two it is worth staying in for the long haul. Just don't expect a great satisfying conclusion. In fact my honest advice is that when you get to the point where King writes "The End, unless you just have to keep reading but you really really shouldn't!" you take his advice and don't read the last 3-5 pages of the book.

I don't think anyone actually stopped if they got THAT far.

(I like that ending anyway though!)

Yeah it is unlikely. I actually thought about it because I sort of saw what was coming..... coming. After a few hours of considering I went ahead and read it anyway.

#36 Posted by Ryanmgraef (237 posts) -

You could check out the marvel comics,they are good.also, the quality does drop after three,in fact i feel it completely changes directions. Each book has really wonderful segments though.i still say read it!

#37 Posted by Veektarius (5012 posts) -

I enjoyed Roland's story, but as his party grows and his individual importance shrinks, I lost interest. I think I quit in book 4 or 5.

#38 Posted by Barrock (3553 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@Barrock said:

@Animasta said:

@Gerhabio: I think rage is out of print at this point because it supposedly directly inspired a school shooting (stephen king himself pulled it that is).

if you like rage, you may like the other bachmann books; Long Walk in particular.

Desperation is my favorite.

desperation was a king book, it was the regulators which was the bachmann book.

the regulators was fuckin batshit insane but definitely not as good

You're right. I've brought great shame upon my family. :(

#39 Edited by thegoldencat7 (1501 posts) -

It starts really well and then over the course of the last few books King slowly but surely vanishes up his own arse.

Overall though I'd definitely recommend it. Its still an amazing series and even though there are a few turns late on I didn't like, the world he builds, the characters and the scale of his ambition are to be admired and personally, I was satisfied with the final conclusion.

#40 Posted by SuicidalSnowman (396 posts) -

Great series, and one that is becoming so entrenched in geek culture (I simply mean that to describe someone who regularly reads this site) that it is worth reading. There is a reason Roland was named Roland in Borderlands, and now you can get the reference. Like Ender's Game, Tolkein, Asimov, and Hitchhiker's, they are pretty much sci-fi canon.

As others said, the quality drops off towards the end. It's not that the story gets any worse, it is just that Kind does seem to stop writing to tell a story, and start writing as a personal pet project (the parts where he writes himself into the story are the absolute worst). However, anyone who has read a lot of King shouldn't be surprised where the story goes, as it is, in my mind, classic King. Worlds colliding? A sub-world that exists alongside ours? A supernatural story that sort of exists in present day? So many of his books have this, its just that Dark Tower starts off as pure fantasy, and doesn't bring this aspect out until later. If you view all the books as one long story, then you see that it follows similarly to say, Buick 8 or Hearts in Atlantis or Bag of Bones or The Shining or Misery or Insomnia.

Wizard and Glass is the best book in the series. Its all extended back story but its the best. By far. If they ever do make a Dark Tower movie, it should be Wizard and Glass.

Otherwise, the series has some of the most memorable characters ever. Roland, Jake, Susan, the Riza, that weird robot, Blaine the mono, Eddie, the woman in Roland's party with no legs, Cuthbert, the man in black... and so many more. They also have an excellent sense of place and the worlds and locations King thinks up kept me wishing it was an RPG.

I don't think they really get nearly unreadable until 8 or 9... but another thing is that these litter used book stores. I found a complete set of the illustrated softcovers at my local used bookstore, paid about $35 total. There was probably 10 copies of the first 4, and at least 2 or 3 of the rest. A good read and they look nice on my shelf. I would recommend reading, even if simply because they are almost 'canon' at this point.

#41 Posted by Phyrlord (171 posts) -

@Thrillhouse87 said:

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King are books that keep getting mentioned when people talk about their favorite books of al time, including on this site. I have been thinking about jumping into it for quite a while, but the number of volumes kinda intimidates me. I want to ask people who have read it, does the quality stay high trough the whole series, and if not where should I stop, and will I still have a satisfying conclusion?

Read the first 2 and go from there. I would suggest you learn about multiverse theory as well, it will give you some background on what he's going for.

#42 Posted by sevenLiter (108 posts) -

Though not my favorite series, I'd like to add that the Dark Tower audio books are some of the best narrations I've listened to. (Read by Frank Muller and George Guidall, respectively) King himself says they're the best way to take in these books. It will take longer of course, but if you have the patience I'd recommend trying them.

#43 Posted by Thrillhouse87 (247 posts) -

@sevenLiter: I actually decided to go for the audiobooks. I finished the first chapter yesterday, and Im really into it already. Going to start chapter two soon.

#44 Posted by TobbRobb (4840 posts) -

I wish he wrote the entire series in the same style and setting as the first book.

No such luck though.