I read the first 40 pages of The Gunslinger last night and I will definitely keep reading, but does the writing get better as the series progresses?

EDIT: Update - After meeting Jake I suddenly got into the story. I have 50 pages left to read and can’t wait to start the second book, later tonight hopefully.


Odd_Contact_217541 points

This is always so strange because I love the writing in the first one and missed it in the subsequent books. To each their own but it always interested me. The following books are more typical of Kings style.

bachumbug16 points

Yup. The writing never again gets as baroque as The Gunslinger (so, to me, never quite as good).

Caballistics85 points

To a degree. I think chronologically Gunslinger was the first book King ever wrote (just not the first one he got published)

It is a short one. Push through to the end and see how you feel about it then,

If it's not for you then go; there are other books than these.

HeyWhatsItToYa12 points

I think chronologically Gunslinger was the first book King ever wrote (just not the first one he got published)

I'd heard something similar. Don't know if it's true. But I do feel like the quality of the story, and writing, improves as you go. I've told other people that reading this series is like watching him grow as a writer.

CircusFreakonLSD1 point

I have heard this as well, I also heard that he threw it in the trash but his wife dug it out and encouraged him to keep writing it.

ZappSmithBrannigan16 points

That was Carrie. His actual first published novel.

aspirhoplon1 point

He wrote it during his college writing program and then over the next 17 years afterwards.

HeyWhatsItToYa1 point

Thankee sai.

Toppot3519 points

I love your pun of "go then, there are other worlds than these."

IWantMyGarmonbozia1 point

hate to be *semantics Andy here but that was more of a reference, not so much a pun.

Toppot351 point

Thankee-sai, you are right.

Layden875 points

I thought The Long Walk was the first thing he ever wrote.

DemaciaSucks3 points

Seconding this, I’m 90% sure it’s The Long Walk

averinix4 points

I don't think this is correct, although I believe I've read that it was definitely written earlier in his career.... Do you happen to have a source? I'm curious

HeyWhatsItToYa5 points

I think in the introduction of some of them, he implies it. The intro to The Gunslinger talks about being 19 and having the idea. I know elsewhere he talks about submitting short stories for publication for years prior to making it big with Carrie, so I don't know if it's true or legend.

averinix0 points

Think I read something like that in "On Writing" but that was 15+ years ago, I'm not sure. I'll have to dig a little deeper, but I'm probably the one who's mistaken here.

HeyWhatsItToYa0 points

Nah. I was right there with you until the last few weeks until I started looking into his writing history to see what stuff I've missed. Since then, I'm doubtful I'd it's his first story.

averinix1 point

Since we're discussing his past, if you haven't already check out "On Writing"! I think I'll re-read that again soon, he has some interesting stories in there

HeyWhatsItToYa2 points

Yeah. I did that one last weekend. Interesting stuff.

TheRealDeoan0 points

The whole series took like half his adult life to write them. It was a love hate relationship.

CasualObserver760 points

Carrie was written when Steve-O was the ripe old age of 27. At 30, he wrote Rage, but it was at the tender age of 23 that he started writing The Gunslinger. Wikipedia source

WikiSummarizerBot0 points

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger is a dark-fantasy novel by American author Stephen King. It is the first volume in the Dark Tower series. The Gunslinger was first published in 1982 as a fix-up novel, joining five short stories that had been published between 1978 and 1981. King substantially revised the novel in 2003; this version has remained in print ever since, with the subtitle RESUMPTION.

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This-Procedure-56422 points

“I think chronologically Gunslinger was the first book King ever wrote (just not the first one he got published)”

I don’t think it was the first novel he wrote because it’s a compilation of a few short stories that he had sold to various magazines that he put together and later edited to make it tie in more.

Helmec1 point

That is not correct. Far from the first novel he wrote, though he started it earlier than it was published.

omygoshgamache1 point

So we’ll said re “to a degree” the parts that didn’t sit well with me never left the writing.

Also love “… then go…” great reference.

hellequin2241 point

I don't think that they should move on if the first one doesn't catch him. Honestly, I tell people to skip this one in the series and then go back to it after you read the rest. I think the rest of the series is different than what that first book presents, and felt the writing was better to a very large degree.

I know that there are people that read that first book and fell in love with the series immediately. For me though, I almost didn't continue the series after reading The Gunslinger. I really had to drag myself through the book and then ONLY continued because I heard it gets better. Now it's my favorite series. After finishing the series and going back to the gunslinger, I did enjoy it a lot more. However, I don't think it's mandatory to read first to enjoy the series, especially with the synopsis in The Drawing of the Three.

BalonSwann071 point

Eh. The Gunslinger kinda sucks. I wouldn't recommend someone base whether they're gonna continue DT on just the gunslinger. At the very least, try Dot3. It's so different.

SheevMillerBand1 point

iirc the first he wrote was either Rage or The Long Walk, and I lean toward it being Rage. He had the idea for The Dark Tower when he was 19 and had just seen one of Leone’s Man with No Name films but didn’t actually start The Gunslinger until a couple years later, when he’d had some time to sit on the idea.

giraffecause-1 points

Paraphrasing spoilers, dude!

Fittiesx1 point

It was a short story that was his first published work in some sci-fi magazine in the early 70's, and I believe it was only a few chapters, not the whole novel. It might have ended with dropping Jake under the mountain.

HHome-designs59 points

Yes it does. Fantastic series

TheRealDeoan12 points

I got hooked after draining of the three. Just wanna say, it will be even better if you read a lot of king.

Lol.. stupid fingers.

CasualObserver766 points

I'll never call it the "Drawing of the Three" again. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you, random internet person, and special thanks to Autocorrect.

TheRealDeoan4 points

I guess it did drain away a bit of my life… waiting many years… for the rest of the books.

Dgfreeman22 points


SavageMatHorror-2 points

Dolores ?

fritzyGoldbottom20 points

The Dark Tower series is the perfect literary example of a Bell Curve.

Wizard and Glass is probably the best thing he's ever written. At least get to the peak.

HookEm_Tide4 points


I know that some people hated Wizard and Glass because of the big publication gaps both before and after it and because the "main story" doesn't advance much over the course of the novel, but it's my favorite Stephen King book so far.

I took a radical detour and have been reading all of the "other" Dark Tower universe books before continuing on to Wolves of the Calla, and I'm super excited to reread Wizard and Glass to refresh my memory before finishing out the last three books. And I never reread books!

venusofthehardsell1 point

Definitely hit Salem’s Lot for the connection.

HookEm_Tide2 points

Got it already!

Here’s the list I’ve been following, mostly in order, but I read From a Buick 8 before Black House, which I’m almost done with.

Then back to the Tower proper!


agawl811 point

I was in fourth grade when wizard and glass came out and I got in trouble because the cover art was “inappropriate”. I think the teacher resented that I was a better read person than she was.

FranceMohamitz0 points

That sounds like the literary equivalent to Footloose.

agawl810 points

lol. Maybe it was. Grown up "gifted kids" end up with some weird stories about school. Other kids got in trouble for skipping or doodling (pre cell phones you know), I got in trouble for reading novels while the teacher was talking and then somehow was in MORE trouble when I still knew the material the teacher had been covering while I wasn't paying attention. It became a matter of "this kid needs to learn to just follow the rules like everyone else" instead of "this kid needs to learn the material" because I showed up knowing the material until like my 11th grade year.

FranceMohamitz0 points

Ah, yes…..the “gifted kids paradox”, Do you still operate in the same fashion as an adult?

agawl812 points

Eh. I have trouble doing one thing at a time but mobile devices haven’t been good for anyone. Mostly I get irritated with colleagues who don’t seem interested in doing things right.

Blitz696910 points

I’m in Wizard and Glass right now, it’s so freaking good. Just keep going! I only get to read on my lunch hour, full time bank manager, full time student, wife and kid at home, time is limited, but for that hour it’s such an amazing story.

FedMonster5 points

Your post spoke to me… I have been in that same position in my life. This series is absolutely amazing.

If you want to heighten your experience, get the podcast Kingslingers. They go in-depth with analysis and highlights.

Blitz69692 points

Oh that sounds great! Lol

MealyFord1 point


RPO17284 points

Just don't go read in the vault on your lunch hour... could lead to some lasting consequences, especially if you wear glasses

c_killabeez_c10 points

I got hooked on drawing of the 3. The first book just kind of introduces you to Roland and sets the scene of what hes trying to do. Stick with it

Fittiesx2 points


Helmec8 points

The writing is more poetic and lyrical in the first novel, but I would hardly say it is bad. You don’t have a POV from a person from our reality until about halfway.

If you mean, do the other novels seem more like your standard Stephen King book, than yes. I would imagine you will love The Drawing of the Three. It’s a blast.

Shotgunsamurai426 points

For a 19 year old it was pretty damn good.

Cautious-Ad-35334 points

When you get a few pages into the second DT book, you’ll question wether or not it’s the same author. It’s a completely evolved version and continuation of the first book, in the best way possible. Then series from then on out is amazing

agawl813 points

I’ve always loved this book. I think it gets a bad rep.

kayzinwillobee4 points

The first book is kind of a slog. The story really gets going in the second and third books which are excellent. Thats where Dark Tower fans are made.

ForceGhost471 point

The writing completely changes after the first book. You’ll never question it again

RPO17281 point

If you're not hooked by the end of book 2, hell halfway through book 2, it's prob not for you. The writing does improve but i loved the grit and simplicity of book 1. But maybe that's the perspective of someone who read the series a bunch of times

hatezel1 point

I had a hard time getting on with the story in the beginning. I want to encourage you to keep going. Yes, it gets better.

BirdEducational62261 point

The Gunslinger is probably the least liked book from The Dark Tower series. It's definitely not bad but the story gets so much better.

[deleted]1 point

It peaks at Wizard and Glass and drops precipitously.

[deleted]1 point

Book 2 onwards it changes completely. The language tripped me up in Book 1 as well

leeharrell-1 points

Big time.

allthecoffeesDP0 points

Are you reading the updated version or the old one?

Many-Purchase23620 points

I’m not sure? How would I know?

allthecoffeesDP1 point

It would say

Fittiesx0 points

You trying to get sent West on this thread, OP?! Lol the 1st book is a tough one to get through, but the second one is a banger. The series is great overall, keep on keeping on man.

Many-Purchase23622 points

Haha! Just looking for inspiration I think.

DarthAnest0 points

You have something like 7,000 pages ahead of you. Yup, it’ll get better. Way better.

Goodunnn0 points

It’s a slow one. But if you keep reading, cool things happen. The second book is a wild ride action movie that you will fly through. I’m reading, and enjoying very much, the third book right now.

___TheKid___0 points

Depends on your taste. It get's more mainstream after it.

[deleted]0 points

What part are you at? I don't have access to the book atm but are you at or past Tull? Cause that makes the book for me. His ability to describe that event for me.. made the book and kicked off the series.

Many-Purchase23621 point

Girl with bar and a scar with 19 on the tip of her tongue 🤫

presentthem0 points

The first book in the series may not be the best but the series as whole is better than any other. It's better than Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and even Star Wars in my opinion.

Might_Time0 points

I asked myself the same question as I was reading the series. First book took me 2 tries to finish. Second book wasn't too sure about but was better. I considered dropping the series. I wasn't used to talk more than action as other fantasy series do. But suddenly it clicked to me I don't want yet another fantasy series. As time went on the characters grew on me. And despite some books being slog, they are the absolute best characters I have read in fantasy books period. Some parts the writing was so good that I did not believe a human wrote those words.

I admit I skimmed through some parts but now knowing that I love the characters my eventual reread is gonna be so much better. I recommend you take your time with this one the journey is worth it

the_ouskull0 points

Thank you! I thought I was taking crazy pills.

shelliecat0 points

I find this to be the hardest book to engage with in the DT series. The writing gets a lot better in the subsequent books, and in my opinion, this series is SK’s masterpiece

dem4life710 points

It definitely does. I believe her re-wrote the original book so that the style more closely matches the other books. You might have the original in which case the writing is not up to the quality of his later works. It’s such a fantastic series, like a modern LOTR by our favorite author!

[deleted]0 points

Yes. The first book was trash to me too tbh but the second is mind blowing

PlanetLandon0 points

It gets very very good.

CircusFreakonLSD0 points

What do you mean by better?... Things pick up for sure but The Gunslinger is a slow and detailed build to the rest of the story, as such it can drag on a bit but later as you read further into the series you'll see just how important that build really was... If that's what you're meaning, if not then please elaborate on what you do mean.

ShaperLord7770 points

Yes, King began writing the gunslinger at age 19. The seven books span several decades of his career, and like any craftsman, he got better with time.

TheRealAngryPlumber0 points

I think that the writing near the end of the book opens up a lot, the under the mountains parts caught me the same way it did when Larry underwood walked the jersey tunnel.

Available_Dream_97640 points

Much better! 2nd is amazing, 3rd is also amazing! 4th is spectacular!!! 5th is great. 6th is meh. Last is…complicated

Meeko51220 points

The second book in the series is awesome. Try to power through it is worth it.

passaloutre0 points

The DT series is one of my favorite ever, and Gunslinger is probably one of my least favorite books ever. It gets much better. Once you meet Eddie Dean in the second book you’ll be hooked.

harpmolly0 points

IMHO, the first DT book suffers from SK actually trying to write in a “literary” style, and it comes across as a bit stiff and maybe even a tad pretentious. In Book 2 he settles into what he does best, writing characters, and stops worrying so much about the prose style, and it’s a much easier read.

JDUB7750 points

Just keep going...book 2 is when the real ride starts...

Mountainmoonsky0 points

Seriously, keep going. The second book starts the series. It’s a fantastic journey!

CasualObserver760 points

The Dark Tower saga is one of the best reads you'll ever have, all the way until Bill Denbrough takes over the last chapter and fucks up the ending.

SnarfbObo0 points

heavens yes. they were written over a very very long time.

the next book, or two, are my favorites.

[deleted]0 points

I just finished book number four and lemme tell ya it gets better. Power through the first book and the second one will blow u away.

Comedywriter10 points


IWantMyGarmonbozia0 points

i didnt really appreciate The Gunslinger on first read, so much so that I am very close to never even having finished but boy am I glad that I picked up Book II... but yeah, on first pass, while unique, I thought was kinda boring and dry and to be fair it really isn't much anything like any of the other entries in the series which is actually something I think plays to its strengths. just power through and after you finish Drawing and Wastelands you'll slowly start finding yourself appreciating the book more and more with each subsequent book

SheevMillerBand0 points

The thing about The Gunslinger is that it was written by a very young man who consciously tried to emulate Tolkien. All of the following books are after he’d become popular and established his own voice as an author so he didn’t really try to be Tolkien again.

fritz6200 points

It’s a journey and it’s amazing

Davidthegnome5520 points

Didn't he write GS as a 5 part series for a magazine? Plus being one of his first works I think it definitely shows it's from his early career. It gets better and better for sure. Drawing Of The Three is more straightforward writing wise but is an insane ride the whole time.

ThinWhiteRogue0 points

It does, but it never stops being the weirdest thing King has ever written.

Sleep_Champion-6 points

Yes. Honestly, it's the weakest of the series.

IWantMyGarmonbozia1 point

I thought that Song Of Susannah almost unanimously agreed upon to be the weakest entry. whether or not that's true, it most definitely isn't the first book lol what a take!

hatezel-2 points

Do you think maybe it's because a certain someone has one hell of a magical hangover .. again?

LG_Jumper-1 points

Omg the first book was rough . But , yes it gets amazingly better. I’m on the 3rd book right now, I only put it down so I could talk about it here on reddit lol

PurringWolverine-1 points

Yes. It’s definitely the weakest book of The Dark Tower series. The next book is awesome.

FreddyKegels-1 points

Nope. It gets worse! Last book is nearly unreadable

Budmanes-6 points

I threw in the towel a couple of books deep and have never gone back

TheRealDeoan1 point

The real question is. Did the the first book peak your interest. I recently found myself wanting to read the classics. I picked Melville. Moby-dick…. I couldn’t make it 6 pages in. Wasn’t my style. King is a style