The Journey Ends Tonight

Twenty years.

It's been nearly 20 years since the first time I cracked open the initial entry in Stephen King's epic Dark Tower series. Roland's adventure has, through various fits and starts and delays, held a special place in my life for as long as I've been reading for enjoyment. Sometimes years have passed without me reading a single page, most notably due to King's own absence from the project but also, as was the case with the seventh and final installment, due to my own waning interest.

But under the urging of those who I myself had recommended the series to, I was implored to pick it back up. I was told it would get better and that it had.

And tonight I finish it. I feel like a part of me is going to die off tonight and, perhaps on a subconscious level that's what I've been fearing all along.

Twenty years.

And just as Roland now sits on a hill staring at the bookmarked object of his desire, I sit with just 40 or so pages left. Twenty years, thousands of pages, and seven books the size of bricks. I've been thrilled, I've teared up, and I've been scared and angry. I've even been bored at times and confused at others. And now it's going to end.

I can't imagine how King must have felt putting the finishing touches on this saga. As much as it's been a part of the entertainment facet of two-thirds of my life, that's but a blip on the radar compared to what writing this (and more specifically, finishing it) must have been like to for King. You can feel his own excitement... and hesitation... in the final chapters leading up to the conclusion and I can't help but wonder how he felt when it was all done. Like a man burying a close, but very ill, friend is my guess. A mixture of sadness and relief.

Tonight I will lay down in bed and put this story to rest, once and for all.


Joe said...

At the age of 10 or 11 or so, 'The Gunslinger' was one of the first books I read for pleasure. From the start I was transfixed by King's hybrid western sci-fi fantasy, his rich, morally ambiguous characters, and his expansive scope. From then I moved on to The Drawing of the Three and was just in time to read The Waste Lands as it was published. After that, like so many, I played the waiting game with King...six years for Wizard and Glass, the conflicting news of King's horrid accident (which to lament? The loss of a tremendous pop artist, or the loss of his magnum opus?), the seven-year gap between books 4 and 5, then the staccato onslaught of 5, 6, and 7, dropped so quickly as if to atone for his extended breaks from mid-world, and his accident. I spent the better part of my life, and the entirety of my thinking life, watching a western cast in the fantasy mold morph into sweeping, undefinable metafiction. King has his faults and so then does this story, but I loved every second of the journey, even the waiting. These Harry Potter people today had it easy! I hope you enjoy the ending. For my part, I feel the conclusion has a lot in common with the finale of the film "Hero," starring Jet Li. It is perhaps not the ending that we -want-, but I feel that it is -correct-.


NobbyNick said...

I went through some serious withdraw with the end of that series. However I did enjoy Cell (the audio version), and even more so Duma Key which I just finished. Hope you enjoyed it! Cheers,

Nick V.

Brad Gallaway said...

Although I haven't picked up a Gunslinger book in i-don't-know-how-long, don't keep us in suspense... post some final thoughts when you polish it off.

Criscipline said...

That was a beautiful "memorial" for lack of a better word. Thanks again for bringing the story into my life.

And Joe said it best - we Harry Potter folks did have it very easy in comparison.