Roland of Gilead

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Roland. Art by Phil Hale.

Roland of Gilead is the hero and main character of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. He is the son of Steven and Gabrielle Deschain and is descended from a long line of Gunslingers. His image and personality are largely inspired by the "Man with No Name" from several of Sergio Leone's westerns.

During the course of a seven-book series, Roland is the last surviving gunslinger and is possessed (or, as he describes it himself, "addicted"; Eddie Dean, an ex-heroin addict and member of Roland's ka-tet, calls Roland a "Tower junkie") by a quest to reach the Dark Tower, the axis upon which infinite numbers of parallel worlds rotate. The Dark Tower is under assault by the Crimson King, a Satanic figure bent on destroying the Dark Tower by undermining the "Beams" that support it. Roland's archnemesis is none other than Randall Flagg, a villain prevalent in many of King's works.

Roland follows "ka", a variant of fate that is similar to other karmic powers such as the Force in the Star Wars universe.

It is stated numerous times that Roland is a descendant of another world's version of King Arthur, referred to in the series as Arthur of Eld. Even his guns were originally melted down from a version of the legendary Excalibur sword.

Roland's quest is to reach The Dark Tower at all costs, whether to simply climb to its top, rule it, or even be the one to destroy it thereby destroying all the worlds that seemingly yield to its axis.

King physically compares Roland to a pair of living people: Clint Eastwood in the Sergio Leone movies and Stephen King himself. There is a moment in the earlier books where Roland's apprentice, Eddie Dean, sees Clint Eastwood on a movie poster and remarks how closely he resembles Roland. Later, Roland himself sees Stephen King as a young man and recognizes many of the same features. Physical appearance aside, King has often remarked that Roland is one of the few characters with which he could never really identify. By King's own words, Roland scared him.


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