The Gunslinger

From Academic Kids

The Gunslinger is a book by horror novelist Stephen King and is the first book in the Dark Tower series. The book and subsequent series was inspired by the poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" by Robert Browning. The book begins, "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." It tells the story of The Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, and his inexplicable quest to chase the Man in Black, which will ultimately lead him to the Dark Tower.

The book takes place in a world that is recognizable as the American West but in an alternate timeframe or parallel universe to ours; Roland exists in a place where "the world has moved on." Roland is a Gunslinger, his world's answer to the knight-errant, and he follows the trail of his fatal obsession.

The Gunslinger takes the form of a series of interleaved flashbacks, as Roland's quest is interrupted with dreamlike vignettes from his youth. By far the most stylized and enigmatic of King's longer works, the book is perhaps best seen as an introductory tableau or prologue to the entire series, the subsequent books of which are much more concrete and linear in their story-telling.

Early portions written when King was only 19, The Gunslinger was first published in 1982 as a limited edition, with its first mass-market publication as a trade paperback in 1988 followed by several re-issues in various formats and in boxed sets with other volumes of the series. In 2003 the book was reissued in modified form, with scenes added and other changes made to resolve inconsistencies with the later books in the series, including the resumption theme, in which Roland is sent back to the Mohaine Desert by Gan, the Dark Tower because he neglected to retrieve the Horn of Eld.

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