The Dark Tower: A Journey with Arthur and his Ka-Tet

There comes a moment in everyone’s life, mostly unexpected, when things align in such a way that they achieve a sort of clarity into their own hearts. Whether it be good or bad usually depends on the person, but sometimes, you just have no control over it. Such is the tale of Roland of Gilead. Such is the will of Ka.  An undeniable force that dictates and wills our lives in a way that is near unchangeable, Ka is a rollercoaster that takes you where it wants you to go. You just better be sure you are ready to deal with what it throws in your way. I will also try and keep this as spoiler free as possible, but some things may need to be said to get my point across.

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My journey with Roland and his Ka-Tet, who after a while became my Ka-Tet as well, started about 2 years ago, but did not hit full steam until about 6 months ago. I had read the Gunslinger, which I profiled for you guys here a while ago, but for some reason or another, I had not gotten the chance to pick up the second book. I think I was afraid to be honest. The Gunslinger was such a great book, and although some might have seen it as incomplete considering the way it ended, I did not. I thought if Sai King had decided to call it quits on the series there, I may have been fine with it. But something kept nagging me about it. Maybe it was my need to see how Roland would continue on with his unbendable quest to see the Tower…or maybe it was something else? I put the thought away for a while, and picked up some other books, mainly the Thrones series, and put my thoughts of Roland and that damned Tower away. Things like that have a way of hiding themselves, but never truly going away forever. That fucking Tower was always calling me.

I know I originally stated long ago that it was Roland speaking to me when I finally started to pick the series back up, but now that I look back, it wasn’t. It was Ka…and the Tower….and possibly Eddie Dean. It was time to continue with my journey, and time to join a group of people that have legitimately influenced my life in a real sense. How you say? I shall tell you, and I would have you hear very well…

After reading through the second book, The Drawing of the Three, which is arguably a toss up as the best in the series next to book 3, The Wastelands, I had become fully invested in my adventures with those Gunslingers. Watching them come together in the most unbelievable of circumstances really goes to show what people can do when things get so crazy that they are forced to adapt in ways they never thought possible. Case in point, Eddie Dean being brought to Roland’s world when at his most vulnerable, same with Odetta Holmes, and same with another person who I shall keep unnamed as in my initial review, I had not gotten to him yet, and feel it something better left secret for those who have yet to enjoy this tale. The things these people do and the things they are put through are absolutely ridiculous in scope and responsibility. Imagine going about your daily business, when you feel a presence inside of you. Not like a feeling, but more like someone is taking over, and there is near nothing you can do. That is how they are brought in, and that is how I was brought back into the world of the Tower.

I love reading, more so now than when I was a child, but it still amazes me at the power someone can have with words. That fucking Tower transcends through the pages and it fills me with wonder and dread to think of it. I have always prided myself as someone who can resist certain urges, yet I am not perfect. I have been resilient in certain aspects, yet miserable in others. Usually I have no problem maintaining a balance between what is real and what is written onto a blank piece of paper and covered with a binding. But sometimes, things have a way of leaving those pages and attaching themselves to my heart and pulsing when blood runs through my veins. That is what the Tower does, and that is what it did to Roland. In this way we are sort of connected, as anyone would be with a character they find themselves akin to. Trust me, I don’t plan on donning some sho’boots and learning how to shoot efficiently, although that would be badass, I understand where the line must be drawn.

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So it came to pass that I became fully invested in this series, and fully invested in the characters. After tearing through the second book, I realized that I might be going too fast. I had been doing that a lot as of late between NetFlix and everything else being at my immediate disposal, I was gobbling up everything as fast as possible and not taking the time to get as invested as I should have. I began to read only in short bursts and right before bed. Each night I would end mine with some adventure, and wake up each morning wanting to go right back in. I kept my will to consume in check, and kept a leisurely pace with this series. Hence why it took me about 6 months to finish the last 5 books. I wanted to make it last as long as possible, and I did my best. I also came to realize certain things that about Roland and myself that may have been a little too coincidental.

Now hear me out as I go into this sort of connect the dots tangent, but whilst reading this series, I came to certain connections Roland and I shared. Before I do that though, I must say that Eddie Dean is my boy and forever will be in the context of this series (I’m assuming you all would have guessed the Man in Black,) but Roland and I share certain things that Eddie and I do not. For one, our penchant to feel somewhat more comfortable alone. Roland begins our tale alone, and ever since I started reading the series, I had a feeling it would most likely have to end that way, but where he and I really shine the brightest is with company. People you care about and people you would do anything for. Over the course of the series, Roland learns just as much or even more than the newcomers in his world about friendship and gaining strength from their companionship. They are Ka-Tet, and that makes them strong. Being alone is fine when necessary, but in certain circumstances, it is better to have someone by your side. The first person Roland brings in is Eddie, and within hours of their meeting, Roland is absolutely sure that Eddie is a Gunslinger, even when Eddie is unsure of himself. This is the catalyst, besides his dropping of Jake in the first book, that sends Roland with open arms towards his destiny. Him and I both understand that drowning and burying your emotions can make certain things easier, but it is not something that must needs be done and can make other things a lot more difficult. Life and destiny are about heartache and tough decisions. If things were always easy, they wouldn’t be worth it.

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This is the sort of mentality that I brought out of completing this series, and it has driven me to my own realizations. Certain things aligned and in the process, I discovered that the things I love most in life, besides my family and friends, are stories. Stories of almost any kind. They play a major role in the Tower series as they are pivotal to our characters. Stories within stories, riddles within riddles. Deciphering what things mean can bring you closer to your goal, or make you realize what you have had in front of you the whole time. I have been slacking as of late in terms of my writing, but after finishing this series, my mind has sort of acquired a rejuvenation of story craft and the need to create (or destroy). Stories influence our lives a bit more than we all really understand. Over the course of this adventure I call life, I always find myself wondering how certain situations would play out had I had a sort of power or ability nobody else has. If I had a healing ability, would this person have died? If I could punch through this wall with my bare fist, would I have had to call that contractor to dear down the wall in my living room? Or if I could have manipulated time to rethink a crucial decision in mine or someone else’s life? We all have these thoughts, and currently, my thought patterns involve what would Roland do in this situation?

I hear people complain all the time about The Lord of the Rings and how they say there is entirely too much travel going on, but what they fail to understand, and what Sai King fully understands, is that sometimes, it is not the destination, but the journey there. That is the way things should be, and that is the way it is in the Tower’s universe. Be careful what you wish for, but enjoy the ride there if you can. That is something that has been swirling around in my heart and mind recently as my biggest gripe with writing was that I always just wanted to jump forward and have the finished product in my hands. That is with almost everything too. When I start playing a game, I never realized till now that I was usually playing for the ending, but when I had the most fun was in the middle. That is where the action is, and that is where the most important and juiciest bits are. My mind would not let me end my infernal quest to reach that damned Tower, and neither did Roland’s. How fucking nuts is that? They’re words! It’s not a hand dragging you by a shirt, but it has the same amount of power over you. Yet that journey that you are on feels real all the same. It pulls Roland towards an end that he has been dreaming about, but he never took the time to sit back and realize that even though his heart needed the Tower, he needed his companions just as much. He needed the journey more than he needed the Tower….and I needed my journey more than I needed my Tower. Not everything is a means to an end, sometimes, it’s a way to the present and to what your heart truly desires.

The story of The Dark Tower takes us over and under some of the most awe inspiring and beautifully destroyed lands that Sai King’s (I use Sai as a term of endearment and respect) mind has created. His characters and landscapes have faced more hardship than they should have, but unfortunately that is the way the world works and that is the will of Ka. Ka is like destiny, except you don’t have a bit of control over it. Destiny you may be able to manipulate a bit, Ka is Ka and that is that. I stress this because that is a huge part of the books and in some respects, a huge part of life. Yes you may be able to do things that you feel may influence your future, but who’s to say that wasn’t in the plan already? It’s very hard to tell and even harder to understand, but sometimes you just have to roll with it and make the most of the ride there. I would very much like to finish writing a book someday, but if I constantly dream about it and never do it, then what good am I? You will meet a character who has that sort of situation dropped on him during the course of the books, and you will marvel at his ability to do what needs to be done and what he has to do to get back to where he belongs. You really need to dive into certain things if you ever hope to achieve what you want, and even though I fancy myself as being rather intelligent, I never really understood it until I finished this series.

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I may sound like I am making this series sound like it is the greatest thing since the Internet, but it all depends on how you personally see things. I know a lot of people were griping about the end of it all, and personally, I think there is no other ending that could have fit into this universe. The tale of Roland was perilous from the very beginning, and much like most heroes (although I am sure Roland would never call himself that) things never go the way they want to. After going on each adventure with my Ka-Tet, I was fully ready to see the Tower as well, but at what cost? Would I personally sacrifice everything I have ever cared about just to see it? Would I go back on everything I have ever said, or would I do my best to keep going after everything else has been taken from me? Here is where I found an amazing amount of respect for Stephen King. He didn’t give us an ending that we wanted, he gave us an ending that fit and that drove home a point in more ways than one. I will not fucking say a word on how this ends because that would be denying you something magical, but I will say that it was perfect in a literary sense and made me feel like it was worth the entire journey. I was having my doubts, mainly because in the back of my mind I didn’t want to journey to end, but when it did, I felt satisfied. I knew Sai King knew what he was doing, and even though there was a chance for me to turn back and not finish the journey, I had to, and I feel better for it.

I am not the sort of person to sit back and reflect on certain things unless they are super important to me, but after turning that last page, I found myself laying with my hands behind my head and thinking about what I would have done in the situation Roland was put in, and sadly, our connection did not end where I thought it would. I would have done the same thing, and I would do it again if I had the chance. That fucking Tower. Sai King, you truly understand the way my brain works and what wills me to continue, and for that I thank you. I will not go forth and say that this has been my favorite series of all time, as that would entirely too difficult for me to choose, but I will say that this series has earned a spot on my most coveted of book shelves….the one that isn’t broken. I would have gone further into the story of each book, but I just can’t because that would be denying you the joy of finding that out on your own. I could give you a short description, but the back of each book does that better than I could. Let’s just say that you will be treated to something that will fill you with wonder and adventure, as well as terror and absolute despair….but you will enjoy every fucking second of it.


PS: The last picture is something I drew for you all. I will not say I am the best artist….clearly….but I wanted to do something special for you guys. So here you go!

-Arthur Harkness

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About Arthur Harkness

I like things, and things like me back

Posted on July 7, 2014, in Books, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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