King’s introduction tells of how prevalent hobbits were when he was nineteen, hippies galore dressed like Lord of the Rings characters at Woodstock and whatnot. He was fond of the novels to the point of certainty he’d be writing his own version when it came to him and then shares how the age of nineteen brought with it a prideful manner of seeing life bending to one’s will, and how one is supposed to think big, so later in life it can be made true. He describes the two types of novelist after this, the “serious” and “popular”, both of which being selfish in nature. He relates of his realization after watching The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, he wanted to marry Tolkien’s quest and magic with this Western sensibility. He couldn’t answer why he wanted to write an epic tome, but believed he mostly succeeded in doing so. Then he alludes to his car accident and how after a fan spoke of if he hadn’t survived, the Tower would forever have remained a mystery, he knowing he had to complete it, and glad he now has.
The Foreword explains why he’d changed The Gunslinger and what he’d added, he comparing this to when he’d expanded The Stand, he then going back to sharing how his accident had spurred him to finish the Tower series, regardless of how many readers had been interested in it (around the halfway mark when it came to those who attended readings). He describes how the start of the series hadn’t matched up with the end, he then sharing his writing process being to get it all out and let it simmer for six months or longer before the first revision, he stating how he’d cleaned up some unnecessary verbosity and attempted to have the story more clearly understood to first time readers.
19, Resumption (which is explained later, I suppose) titles the first two pages before chapter one. The gunslinger is following the running man in black, Walter o’Dim and was currently gauging his fairly full water bag which if he’d been a holy man, may have been able to more closely estimate when drinking was necessary, but didn’t follow Jesus or was a Manni, after which his guns are depicted, and where he’d gotten them. He no longer had his horn or hat, but wished he did, he then noticing a burnt out campfire, which he salvaged the leftover bacon and shared how he had so far only been discovering Walter’s campsites, knowing he’d track the man as long as it took to finally catch up to him, but also sensing he’d gotten a bit closer, regardless of only ever detecting dead camps with no signs of waste. He watches the slowly dimming horizon for a sign of a camp, none being viewed, so sets his own fire atop the old camp and rests for the night.
The gunslinger now had a mule after having passed through a town a few weeks previously, he seeing crazy men and lepers, and acquiring a compass he could make use of until Jesus showed himself; a crazy man’s terms of agreement. The gunslinger is surprised when coming across another hut with a young man attending his corn, the two greeting each other formally, and the young man offering corn to eat, the gunslinger noting the young man sounded like Manni, which he agreed he’d been with, but left, the young man introducing himself as Brown, the gunslinger sharing his own (we not privy, but I’ll be using from here on out).
Brown then shares his raven’s name as Zoltan, noticing Roland as a gunslinger, believing his type were no more, Roland confirming he’d come from In-World some time ago, and then vaguely asking of Walter’s passing by, Brown unable to determine with certainty how long ago it’d been, time being wonky out there. Brown then offers what Walter had spoken of, he having inquired after the weather, his wife, and her origins. Brown asks if he was a wizard, which Roland confirms of and he being more, as well. Brown declares Roland wouldn’t overtake him, but he states otherwise, Brown then going inside to prepare their meal whilst Roland filled his water-skins in the well at the back. When he joins Brown inside and rests whilst the man boils the beans, he thinks of how many hours he’d been traveling without rest, also thinking of how impossible Mid-World’s greenery seemed, Roland not bothered by Walter’s distance since he’d gotten an estimate in the most recent town he’d gone, though he not looking forward to the forthcoming desert.
When Brown wakes him, an hour’s gone by and his mule has died, upside being the food was done. Upon inquiry, Brown estimates the mule had perished due to age, and after setting out the food, prays, Roland learning Brown thought they were already in the hereafter. As the weather became rougher with the dark, Roland hungrily ate the tough corn and beans, he wondering why Brown didn’t eat Zoltan, talking animals being more difficult to decide to consume, apparently. When they’d finished their meal, Roland offers a smoke, he having a moment of paranoia when thinking of Walter having conjured these moments, Roland asking if Brown had been to Tull, he stating the last time he’d been to the town was to sell corn, Roland sharing how Walter had set up a trap for him when he’d passed through, the town now killed by Roland, in his own words. Roland then takes a moment to piss on Brown’s corn, as requested, he deciding whether Brown was Walter, and when he returns back inside, is called out by these thoughts from Brown, Roland debating if he needed to take him out, his morals holding his hand, Brown then offering to listen, if Roland still needed to unload his troubles. Brown makes it easier by plainly asking about Tull, and Roland lets it out.
Roland’s description of where he’d purchased the now dead mule, as well as his cross-country trudge follows, until getting to Tull. As he drew closer, hearing “Hey, Jude” being played, the inhabitants the usual slightly off country-folk, Roland approaches an old man pitching some hay in a barn, getting him to agree to look after his mule once tossing a gold piece in his direction. When Roland then attempts to get one of the boys playing marbles to inform him of whether there was a cafe in town, none answering until the youngest replies, he paying for it after Roland leaves, he views the inside of the bar mentioned before heading in. The people inside stare until he gets to the bar, he then ordering three burgers, attention called back to him as they cooked, he having to dissuade a man with a big knife to end his approach toward him. When he was nearly done eating another man puts a hand on his shoulder, Roland realizing Walter had made the man crazy, he already deceased. Roland, taken aback when he spoke the High Speech to him, gives him a gold piece as requested, from shock, the man returning to his table gladly. The bar quickly empties after this, even the piano player leaving, the bar-maid angry he’d gotten her customers to exit, Roland asking whom the man at the table was, then inquiring of Walter, she agreeing to tell for the price of getting laid. Afterward, she tells of how the man downstairs, Nort had died, then he asking once more about Walter.
Walter had arrived near sundown the same day Nort had passed, a fast wind having risen, people closing down windows, one man whom had seen him enter, not wanting to make his acquaintance. Walter heads for Sheb’s Bar, most within paying him no mind what with the storm and they involved in their own activities, only Alice, the barmaid the only interested eye-witness, he heading for the bar and requesting some good whiskey, Nort’s body lying on tables in the middle of the room. Alice leaves the bar a moment to open a keg, Walter stating of seeing the dead man, and Alice launching into how those in attendance weren’t real mourners, but seemed to mock him, as they had during his life, Walter putting back his shot, showing his money, as requested, she then consenting to pour his second drink. When Alice attempts to ask how long his stay would be, Walter turns the conversation on her, about how she had affection for Nort, she sensing a bad vibe and commanding he leave, but then Walter shows his eyes and she feels drugged, he laughing loudly and the ruckus around them quieting, people watching him.
No one was affected by his laugh to join him, he approaching a lady whom had been singing and whapping her tummy, she forced to laugh a couple times until fleeing and crying, Walter starting his little show with Nort, spitting on him with precision, more people starting to leave, and those still there gathering around, he continuing his resurrection, and as people saw Nort’s first breaths, more heading out, and upon opening his eyes, Alice running upstairs. Walter yells after her of this being for her, it impossible to undo, and its hilarity, she locking her door. Nort goes out for weed, Walter having gone when Alice returns downstairs, Nort taking his table by the door, he greeting her and sharing what Walter had told him, stating of his desire to stop using, but how he was addicted and it giving him tremors, which made him unable to, he saddened by this. She then finishes lighting the bar, only one other patron coming in, Nort then remembering to give her a message from Walter, revealing 19 being the number to say to Nort if she wanted him to reveal the truth of Death and the next world, he certain she wouldn’t be able to resist forever. Alice is sickened by realizing this truth, but by the next day, life already normalized, and by the day after, all the same as usual, Alice still struggling with the word she attempted to keep to herself, she dipping into the whiskey to help her ignore the urge.
This ended her recollection, she believing he’d dozed off, and was doing so herself when he inquires of this being all which had occurred, she agreeing, then he stating he shouldn’t linger there too long, since there was most likely a trap awaiting him, as well. He advises she do her best to forget the number, and if she gets an overwhelming urge, to retreat upstairs and say it as many times as necessary. She is comforted in knowing he wouldn’t leave yet, and next morning when she feeds him, he inquires of whether she had a map of the southeast, she stating of it only being desert, he then going off to see the hostler, Kennerly to see if he knew more, Allie warning him he tended to make up ‘facts’ if he didn’t know, she touched when he thanks her.
When he’d gotten to Kennerly, his daughters were roaming the grounds, his eldest, a horny teen, whom he kept having to threaten to get inside the house. Roland inquires what he knew about the desert and what lay beyond, he uncertain, Roland paying him another coin to continue watching the mule, he deciding he’d remain in town for a little while longer. Four days pass, Roland’s resolve to leave fading, he aware this could be the snare Walter had left him, Sheb busting in with raised knife and sounding nuts, claiming Allie was his, Roland then recognizing him from his past. Allie calms him as he cries and sets his broken wrists. Roland asks if Sheb remembers the time they’d met before, he then commanding him to leave, Sheb then spouting of Roland only having been a kid, but quickly obeying his demand. Allie then attempts to continue where they’d been interrupted, but Roland isn’t interested any longer, she considering the situation Sheb and he must have been in involving a girl he’d cared for, she trying to have him acquiesce to her desire, but failing.
The next evening, the bar is shut, this being a similar day to the Sabbath. Allie cleans shop, Roland walking to the church and watching the congregation sing, the preacher-woman massive and insane. Once the song finishes, the woman begins speaking, Roland getting the feeling he’d been there before, her subject for tonight being “The Interloper”, she describing how she knew most of the characters in the Bible and loved them, the only one she didn’t know, being The Interloper, she afraid because she wasn’t familiar with his inner thoughts, she clearly referring to Satan, warning her followers to be wary, bringing their hysteria to a climax and spouting of the apocalypse, the lady also including a name Roland vaguely had heard of before, realizing Walter had also infected her after witnessing the questions she asked the people, everyone in moaning agony, Roland uneasy. When the preacher-woman singles out a man whom was particularly affected, she gives him solace with Jesus’ forgiveness. She then makes certain they would all attack Satan if they saw him, Roland leaving and noting his time to move on almost arriving.
Allie next states how the preacher-woman wouldn’t entertain his presence, she secluding herself if it wasn’t a Sunday. When Roland asks when she’d come to town, Allie relays it could have been two or twelve year’s, she then being dishonest when he asks which way she’d walked from, she eventually relenting and confessing it was from the desert, where the dwellers made their homes, this news easing Roland a bit, since it was where he was heading, his final question of where she currently resided reluctantly answered. Roland senses his last day had arrived, Allie feeling this moment, as well, she feeding him, and their farewell abrupt. Roland mentions after this, seeing her again one more time before her death. When he’d gotten to the preacher-woman, Sylvia Pittston’s home, everything had become silent, the wind having dissipated, knowing it would come back with force the longer it was away. A strange light was tinting the view, and Roland knocked a few times, busting his way in to see her rocking in a chair, neither of them speaking for a moment, until she declares he wouldn’t get Walter, since Roland was with the dark side, he stating how Walter had gone to her, she admitting she’d slept with him, speaking the High Speech to her.
Roland informs her Walter had fucked her in more ways than one, she continuing to state Roland being on the side of the devil and having seen him lurking in the church. He asks her why Walter had brought back Nort, she stating Walter had informed her he was working with God and how Roland would want to sleep with her, but she wouldn’t allow this since Walter had made her pregnant, telling her it was royalty, Roland sharing what she truly had was a devil and he would be able to get it out of her, she reacting by drawing back. Roland asks what was beyond the desert, her answer being he wouldn’t get Walter, but “burn”, Walter giving her this information. Roland threatens the details out of her by making like he would begin removing her child, she finally relenting and confessing of Walter going to the mountains and stopping on the other end to regain his power, she stating Roland had murdered her child and he’d get his, demanding he leave. He states she didn’t have a baby, demon, or otherwise, then doing as she bid.
When Roland had gotten to Kennerly’s, he could see a dust storm on the way, but hadn’t reached them yet. Kennerly inquires if he was leaving today, Roland agreeing, and Kennerly informing his idea of moving on before the storm not giving him enough of a head start, stating it would be his death if he got caught in it. Kennerly’s eye movement gives away an attack by his daughter, Soobie, Roland missing most of the hit, it barely getting his elbow. Roland again insists for his mule, Kennerly acquiescing, he leaving the two in the barn and walking into the hot air. Roland makes a stop to see Allie, but she wasn’t working, and no one was inside, he getting some provisions and leaving payment, considering whether he’d be able to bypass Walter’s trap, but not holding onto hope. Walter pretended to be divine, spouting of royalty’s spawn, a crimson youth, and it made him wonder if he had been fooling around the whole time, the answer essential.
Then a shriek has townspeople pouring out from behind closed doors, all carrying weapons, Sheb using Allie as a hostage, stepping forward first, she begging to be put out of her misery for having said the number, Roland reacting automatically and putting them both down, all the others being fended off as they came, he locating temporary shelter in the general store/barber’s, reloading and shooting more as they attempted entry, and as he exits through the back, puts down more who meet him there, he backing into the desert, still shooting and yelling, getting them all as they closed in. As they became fewer, he’d only gotten minor scrapes, someone then catching him in the face with the butt of a knife, which puts him on the ground, he now getting stabbed in different spots, the worst one on his leg, Roland catching them all in the end, even those attempting to escape. As he retraces his steps back to where they’d ambushed him, he counts how many were dead, Tull’s fifty-eight residents no more. He saw what had become of Nort, located his mule, and led it back to the stable. After attending to Nort, he goes to Sheb’s bar, eats some burgers with beer, then spends the night in Allie’s bed. By morning, the sky was clear, he finished tending to his cuts, and starts through the desert.
Roland believed Brown had passed out, Zoltan even showing he’d been resting during the story, Roland ready to prepare a place for himself to sleep when Brown inquires if this retelling had helped him get a load off, Roland questioning why he’d feel negatively, and he stating of Roland being human, unless he hadn’t been honest, Roland denying he had misspoken, detecting his favor for Brown, asking whom he actually was, and he responding of being himself, and why Roland thought there was anything hidden. Brown believes Roland is close to catching Walter, he uncertain whether Walter would feel hopeless when Brown asks, and Roland not having reached this point himself, declaring of going and doing what’s necessary, Brown accepting this and rolling over to sleep. In the morning, Brown prepares him a final meal and gets him going, they parting with kind words. When the sun had set, Roland dreamt, the mountains near, but unseen, he having Cort repeatedly returning to his thoughts, the man showing him how to shoot and his morals. When he regains consciousness, he notes of his “romantic” nature only having been known by few, Susan from Mejis being one, and then reminding himself again of Cort and how he now was the last to survive, packing up and continuing his walk.
Roland gets a children’s rhyme stuck in his mind, his mother having sung it to him during nap time. He was now devoid of water and had been walking for a little over two weeks, the mountains not looking any nearer. When he scraped his hands after tripping and had maddened thoughts of the blood as it fell, he became aware of his sanity taking a break. He then notices a couple of buildings which caught his attention earlier upon checking the distance of the mountains, they much closer now. He makes out one as a stable and the other a motel or home, this “a way station” for coaches. There was a person propped against the building Roland recognizing as Walter once walking closer, exhausted he still prompts himself to run as he pulls his gun and declares of having him in his sights, but when the figure gets up, he sees he’s facing a blonde boy, the two staring and Roland not believing his eyes, heading toward the stable, a buzzing persistence in his head. When he reaches the black heat inside, he turns to see the kid had followed, he then falling face-down.
Roland resurfaces with light in his face and straw under his head, the boy having attempted to keep him at ease, the boy also giving him water, then offering food, but Roland taking it slow for knowing he’d gotten sunstroke, the boy then introducing himself as John, preferring to be called Jake Chambers. Roland senses he was ten or eleven, his slight look of intimidation letting Roland know he could rely on him. When Jake returns with more water, Roland admits he’d mistaken Jake for Walter at first, Jake revealing a man in black, a holy man had passed through, Jake not liking him, and when Roland insists he attempt a guess of how long ago he’d left, Jake hesitates between one to two weeks, but certain it was “three poops ago”, then reminded of a film he’d seen in Times Square, Roland not understanding this. When Jake goes off to acquire some meat for him, Roland knows the boy wasn’t from around there, and when he’d returned, Roland inquires into it, Jake no longer knowing, but mentioning someone from his past stating it was due to too much TV.
Roland asks what he’d meant by “Channel 11”, thinking it was a “beam”, Jake then becoming upset with the continued questioning, since he knew his memory was going and he may not remember what his own name was soon, and Roland would be leaving him. Roland essentially tells him to bite the bullet (a phrase I despise), but then requests Jake tell him what he could of his past. Jake only relented when Roland insists so he could decide whether he may be able to puzzle through the leftovers Jake couldn’t put together any longer, the boy describing New York City, the Statue of Liberty, cabs, buses, how he got to, what he brought with him, and what he wore to school, he only using half remembered details. Roland then inquires if Jake would like for him to put him to sleep, to help him regain his memories, he showing Jake what he meant, a similar trick to watching a pendulum swing, Jake quickly lulled, and Roland then thinking of another song his mother had sung to him. Roland disgustedly acknowledges his hands own talents for destruction before inquiring where Jake was. Jake is heading out, detailing what was in his packed lunch the cook had made him and what subjects he had at school, as well as how all the adults treated him cordially, he not experiencing any exceptional warmth from even his parents, and at school, he’s left alone, but has no buddies, girls attracted to him, but his stately manner throwing them off. When he gets to a corner, Walter is there, causing him to get run over by a car, the last he sees is Walter approaching and his own hand.
Roland is troubled by the boy’s story, he not having heard of a place like this before, the closest possibility being Lud, he then giving Jake the option to remember, but he choosing not to, Roland letting him go to sleep. He decides how fond of Jake he was, as he sipped water and looked through the stable, seeing the machine Jake had gotten the water from, Roland then sitting near him and debating whether Walter was allowing him to catch up on purpose. Next, when thinking of the children’s rhyme, Cort comes to mind, as well as others which circle back to Susan, he then entertaining himself with an old tune as he’s comforted in knowing Walter was drawing nearer, Roland then beginning to drowse. He regains consciousness near nightfall, Jake no longer there, Roland locating him outside on the porch of the house, he having made a fire. Roland sits nearby and discusses how he’d be continuing his chase of Walter, uncertain whether he’d end his life or would need him to lead him somewhere, when Jake asks his plan. Roland confides it was whether Walter could lead him to a tower, and then states Jake would need to accompany him, asking about how much food they had, and Jake sharing of a smelly cellar, but not going down, since it seemed unstable. After Jake shares how he was glad he hadn’t murdered Roland in his sleep, he asks if he could share the stable with him when they go to sleep, Roland gives permission, and thinks of his past before calling it a night.
Roland looks in the cellar the next morning, Jake correct in stating the stench being strong from rotten vegetables, he detecting some canned food, but upon the third round, the foundation beginning to creak loudly, Roland calling for Jake to exit, he then hearing Allie’s voice caution him about “the Drawers” and Walter, he then going to the wall he’d heard the voice at and punching through it, grabbing a jaw bone before returning upstairs and out. Jake is hysterical, and hugs him when he sees him exit. Roland realizes Walter may have counted on his affection for Jake, Roland then suggesting they leave, giving a water-bag for him to carry, and Roland taking the last two along with his possessions and the food. After walking a little ways, Jake waves goodbye to the way station, stating how he felt they were being watched and glad to be reassured they wouldn’t return, soon the way station no longer in sight, and they heading for the mountains.
The mountains became more distinct a few days later, Roland able to make out the colors and type of terrain was ahead, Jake watching the lightning ‘show’ which would occur nightly, lulling him to sleep. Roland considers the possibilities of what could be in store for him by Walter, since the boy was an exceptional travel companion, staying out of his way and not slowing him down, no questions being raised on Roland’s actions, he knowing Walter had some reason for putting Jake in his path, and it most likely a doozy if everything was going as well as it was. Walter’s nightly burned campsites were also becoming more recently abandoned, Roland wary upon soon confronting him. At noon on the fourth day, Jake was commanded to stop after he’d stumbled, Roland insisting he drink some water, he then stating from this point forward, they’d be taking breaks daily at this hour, Roland distracting Jake from his guilt by pulling his bullet trick and speaking of where he grew up, as well as Merlin, the boy then going to sleep.
Roland prepares a smoke for himself as he realizes he was no longer urgently desiring to catch up with Walter, thinking of how he may attempt to trick Roland. He imagines men from his past and the varying humors, as well as natures they had, concluding his thoughts of a bird he related to because of its unrelenting nature to kill, Roland affected negatively for a moment before letting the thought go. Another place and time is shown, spring being the season, Cort, David, the falcon, and Cuthbert or Bert were in a spot where a game would soon be started. Roland then makes certain all were prepared, none of them yet allowed to speak the High Speech, Cort letting a dove out of it’s cage, David following soon after, Bert then getting punished for not releasing the dove on time, Roland distracting them by yelling of seeing the dove and David’s progress, the falcon dropping the dove, Roland running at the fallen bird, as David tore into it, he distracting the falcon with a piece of rabbit, and when he tried putting David’s leash back on, was rewarded with a cut to his arm, David resumes consuming the dove until Roland succeeded with getting the falcon leashed, giving him another slice of meat, and hooding him so he’d set upon his arm, Cort regards how Roland had been cut because the falcon didn’t respect him, and wouldn’t ever do so.
Cort releases them for the evening and reminds Bert of his punishment for later and the next morning, but whacking Bert once more for seeing his insolence in the reflection of Roland’s eyes. When they are returning, Roland offers they both eat in a different kitchen which would possibly allow more safety for Bert to get away with eating dinner, Roland regarding how it shouldn’t matter if Cort learned of this or not. The kitchen cook was called Hax, he of mixed origins and a pleasant acquaintance to all of the children he encountered, even the wild ones becoming gunslingers, he giving the two meat scraps as work was quickly done around them. Hax is then approached by a scullery boy leading someone from the Guards to announce the Guard wanted to speak with him. Hax instructs the two to go get some pie and leave after so he didn’t receive backlash, the two eating under the stairs. When they were ready to go, Hax and the Guard make their way near the stairs, making it impossible for the boys to exit undetected, the two hearing something about a get-together for a job in a few weeks and poisoned meat. The men then agree how loyal they were to someone, Hax then inquiring about whether kids would be poisoned in the town and if it’d be painful, the Guard assuring it was mild.
The two speak more of how the Guard planned to make his leaving look normal as Roland notes how he’d had the chance to end the two where they’d stood, Bert and he digesting all they’d heard, Roland seeing Hax’s death in Bert’s eyes. When Roland’s father had returned home, he didn’t waste any time to inform him, the man surprised, wondering about Roland’s reasons for coming forward, he stating it was because they had tricked him, then declaring wanting to be present when he was hanged, his father deciding to allow it. As Roland inquires whether his father knew whom Hax and the Guard had referred to as a “good man”, and why, if caught, it wouldn’t satisfy the public, Roland’s father dismisses him instead of answering. Roland remembers how his mother, father, and Marten, the good man, had been found in the end, and debated how it could technically include himself among them, as well (mysterious).
Roland notes how Bert would’ve found where the gallows were, being quite a suitable relation to the information they’d overheard, the notes from each of their fathers letting them out of Cort’s lessons early, and he instructing the two to set half a loaf of bread under each of Hax’s feet once dead, which he supplied and threatened them to complete correctly. When the boys had arrived a couple hours before everyone else and realized what the bread was for, Bert was chickening out, but Roland saw the value of why they’d been given permission, although not forcing Bert and himself to climb the gallows as Roland had suggested, knowing Cort would’ve forced them both, he discovering how dissatisfied he was with the state of his childhood by this point, then retrieving a splinter of wood from the platform and replying it would be a reminder. They then sit down across the way and view the people as they arrived, Roland hoping there was a good reason behind betraying Hax, he apprehensive and Bert showing no emotion.
Roland was reassured by how the hanging had gone, Hax’s arrival not eliciting too much response from the gathered group, a gunslinger leading Hax to his rope and inquiring if he’d care to make confession, Hax denying the need, Roland planning on speaking with his father about what look he’d seen pass over the crowd as Hax spoke. Right before the deed was done, the gunslinger states his charges and pulls the trap door open as Hax is readying to deny it was true. Roland had stayed impressed with how Hax had continued to attempt speaking after he was hanging, after this everyone made their way off, the two boys approaching the body and Bert discussing how Hax didn’t look himself anymore, Roland disagreeing. The two then spread the bread under Hax’s hanging body, Bert declaring he’d enjoyed the show, Roland not denying this, but replying it was definitely an event. A few years after this, Roland had become a gunslinger, his father was already dead, and he’d killed his mother, his travels then starting.
Jake then brings Roland’s attention to the barely visible figure of Walter climbing high above them supernaturally jumping large areas, it seemed, this being a couple days at the bottom of the mountains for the two. Jake questions Roland of whether this was whom he was searching, whether they’d catch up, and what was beyond the mountains, Roland confirming it was the man he was chasing, believed perhaps they’d reach him on the other side, and couldn’t determine what they’d discover there, he hastening they continue. When they make camp later on, Roland wonders if Jake felt the gravity of their chase and eventual conclusion, however it may involve the Tower, as well, Jake then referred to as a “sacrifice” as Roland covers him as he slept.
Cryptically, Jake discovers “the oracle”, and it had nearly killed him, the days torturous, and Jake’s steadfastness making Roland look on him with pride, despite the crazed look in his eyes, but as they hiked further up, Roland was able to shoot a rabbit, he then ordering Jake to sit whilst he gathered wood, the boy asleep by the time he’d returned. When he’d gone to top off their water-skins, he’s reminded of Allie (King talks like she’d been completely forgotten by now, but possibly putting it like this because of how long it seemed for Roland walking through the desert), he returning to make the rabbit stew with the remainder of their veggies, and after waking Jake, informs him they were staying put the next day, sensing it wouldn’t hurt, but also not having a good feeling about it. As Roland nods off, Jake already back to sleep, he is reminded of Bert again as he throws his cigarette in the campfire, the night pleasant, he dreaming. Next, Susan is about to die, Roland’s love, he being held by a couple of townspeople, but in reality not having witnessed her death. People were chucking corn at her, the husks aflame before even hitting her, the witch, Rhea definitely amused, wherever she was, Roland’s attention then brought to Susan’s window when she’d shrieked about a boy, Roland viewing Jake with a sharp object in his head. Roland wakes when he begins feeling coals from the fire burning his hand, he still hearing a sound he thought had come from his dream, then seeing Jake wasn’t there, he up and after him. Jake had gone further up a ways, Roland smelling his scent, and when entering between some stones, understood what the boy was going through mentally, and physically, the oracle, or succubus emanating a feeling hard to ignore, Roland whipping out the jawbone in his pocket and putting it in front of his face, doing the same for Jake, he having more trouble coming around, but passes out, which allowed Roland to get them both back to the camp, the energy seeming upset, Roland aware now how deeply he cared for Jake, certain he could sense Walter laughing at him.
Roland wakes by Jake yelling at him, he having bound Jake before going back to sleep, he now hungry and angry, Roland explaining he had wandered off, showing him the jawbone, which reminded him, Roland then informing him he was to stay at the camp whilst he took care of something, stating if Jake believed for any reason he had to desert the camp, to look at the jawbone, Jake resisting his ability to do this, due to his revulsion to it. Roland instructs how he should use it when necessary, he relating Jake to another childhood buddy of his, Alain, Jake then relenting with sad resignation, Roland considering how dangerous his task was, but he needing to learn more about the oracle, and attempt to defeat it. Roland then takes out a pill of mescaline, explaining to Jake of what it did, Jake describing its similarity to LSD, which he couldn’t remember the reason for it being similar, Roland then taking the pill and cleaning his weapons whilst he waited. After, he sewed a tear in Jake’s shirt, he then noticing the physical affects of the drug kicking in. Roland announces it was time he go, Jake wishing him luck and safety, Roland rumpling his hair as he walked past him.
Roland heads for the rocks, he taking a moment to sip some water from the stream he would be crossing, looking at his reflection curiously. Roland realized his thoughts were becoming heavier and felt like it was slowing his actions, but he moved himself onward, fortunately still peaceful in mind, the drug usually irritating him, and as he entered the circle, not feeling the way he had before, he lying on the altar and thinking of a line of Manni poetry, seeing faces in the trees, finally feeling a presence and requesting it to share what needed to be passed on to him. He now was forced to envision Susan, as the oracle mourned and pled for Roland to be warm toward her, since it was already frigid there, the oracle denying of hearing about Jake when Roland brought him up, and continued to go after Roland’s lust with desperation, he negotiating to give what the oracle desired after he received honest information, he withholding and realizing the oracle was moving off sadly, he insisting being told, the oracle then stating he sleep, but when being denied, suggests half sleep, Roland debating this due to the serious nature of what was being asked of him, he also considering its necessity, and then succumbing to half sleep.
The first item he learns is the number three being his fate, another number to show up later, Roland then asking for this to be elaborated, he told of a “young, dark-haired…demon” called, Heroin, the oracle then warning of unfound “doorways”. The second piece of knowledge is brief, a female arriving on “wheels”, and the third about someone else’s end, Roland then inquiring of Walter and learning they’d be chatting of the Tower soon, he afterward insisting to hear about Jake, whom was his ticket to Walter, and in turn he leading him to the three, and this getting him to the Dark Tower, the oracle unable to explain, to Roland’s aggravation. He learns Jake could be saved though, which would have him turn back, he unable for Marten deceiving his father, the oracle stating Walter had consumed Marten’s essence and wasn’t accessible any longer, as Roland was aware, but he not able to give up, the oracle replying of he being cursed in this case, and Roland allowing the oracle then to do as she willed.
The oracle does her ‘bidness’, Roland having to stop her when he’d finished, she persisting, so he being more aggressive to leaving, then considering how long her next wait could last, time being an overpowering hindrance. Jake goes toward him when he approaches the camp, looking worried, Roland clarifying he wasn’t ill, and Jake could leave the jawbone he carried with him, Jake tossing it with loathing, Roland so exhausted he had been ready to share his problems (dan-dinh, also a gamer, apparently), and update him of what he’d experienced, but immediately turns away from the idea, and wondered if he was losing his mind by even having thought to attempt it. He instead shares of their plans for later and right then he would sleep. Jake uses an idiom which confuses Roland until rephrased, and when he’d resurfaced, he designated the task of rekindling the fire to the boy, he shocked to hear a rhyme he hadn’t remembered saying in front of him. Jake is proud of himself when succeeding with using the tools required to restart the fire, Roland walking off to hunt, he returning with three rabbits ready for boiling, and praising Jake on having prepared the water for them, the boy blushing. As the stew boiled, Roland gathers vines as possible rope for later, but sensing “ka” was with them. They break camp at sunrise, their food supply quite light, and as they hiked, Jake and Roland discuss the boy’s views on their upcoming hike up the mountain being strenuous or not, Jake believing the latter.
Jake guesses correctly about the start of their hike up, it not terribly taxing, and when they viewed their progress, Roland was struck by how non-threatening the desert looked from this height, and how it had almost been the end of him. As they continue forward, their path getting steeper, Roland hears the sounds of a storm, but they being safe for now, since it was on the other side of the mountain currently. At sunset, the two set up camp, Roland supplying them a blanket tied up to cover them from wind, Jake being reminded of his mother when remembering a descriptive phrase she used in reference to how deeply he slept, he fighting the urge to get upset. Roland is reminded of a phrase Cort would use when he’d ask useless questions, then Jake wonders how he’d gotten there and the reason for his memory loss, Roland stating it was caused by Walter and the Tower. When Jake confesses confusion, Roland agrees with the sentiment, Jake then asking where he was from, Roland sharing the place was called New Canaan and wasn’t there anymore.
Roland then reminisces to himself of a time when his parents had set him up with a suitable girl for a party, and how the surroundings had begun to lose its luster when he had been about to leave to follow Walter, he saddened by the state of its decline compared to his earlier memories. After he and Jake speak of how the place had turned to ruins, Jake shares how he’d want to have lived there, he then lying down to sleep. Roland considers the unfortunate situation to come for Jake, but this only asserting itself temporarily before he came back to himself and slept. The further on they arose, the more treacherous it became, but Jake stayed useful with his agility in small rock faces, he able to help Roland with a few narrow spots with the ropes they’d brought. The next day, they were trudging through an icy spot of the mountain caused by a cloud, they detecting a footprint in the ice, making camp later upon sunset, and Roland believing Jake may start asking questions, but instead goes to sleep quite quickly. Roland follows suit, but wakes with a similar nightmare as before with Jake and the object in his head, he waking and seeing Jake wasn’t soundly sleeping either, Roland then attempting again to sleep.
One week after the footprint, they were in Walter’s presence for a short moment. Before this happens, they reach a point where they begin going downhill, and when they stop at a stream, they smell Walter on the air and continue on until approaching a bend, Jake wanting to stop and looking terrified, he pleading they turn around, and when Roland refuses, Jake is dazed with the knowledge of he going to be murdered, and this time by Roland, the latter attempting to not straight up lie and only saying he’ll be wary, Jake resigning and holding Roland’s hand as he leads him forward. The two see Walter and the wall of granite he was already climbing, he greeting Roland magnanimously, but with sarcastic quality. Roland fires three shots before controlling himself, Walter amused and inquiring if Roland would deny himself the answers he was chasing. Roland suggests he return to eye level to discuss it, but Walter thinking a good chat on the other side of the mountain a better plan, he regarding Jake and adding he wouldn’t be present, this making him emit a noise of fear. Walter then leaves them through a crack in the face of the granite. Roland watches Jake and thinks how with training he could’ve become a gunslinger, he now able to separate any emotion he’d had for Jake, he bluntly stating of he having the option to join him or not, Jake knowing he’d starve if he stayed, so continued forward, they reaching the point Walter had been and following his route.
Roland next confides to Jake, speaking as if dreaming, of he, Alain, and Bert going somewhere they weren’t supposed to, he having been speaking nonstop since leaving the outside. When night fell, they walk a bit longer before making camp, no longer hearing Walter. Roland had continued his recollection of a particular Ball and how the three had snuck in by balcony, seeing gunslingers with their ladies and elders being entertained, at one point Roland’s mother dancing with Marten until his father motioned for her, everyone by this time knowing his father would become Dinh of Gilead, at the least, but only one person, Gabrielle Veriss not being aware, Jake asking of her being his mother, and Roland confirming. He then tells of Marten having been the gunslingers’ counselor, but soon started repeating himself, so Jake lies down as Roland makes a cigarette, and notes how the memory pained him because of his father’s betrayal. Roland then sleeps, this time Jake looking at him with affection before also sleeping.
Roland’s ability to understand time had been partially effected by the desert’s sameness and completely wiped by the mountain consistently dark. The days which could have been weeks or hours passed, at one point Jake wandering off a ways and Roland hearing him state of having found what felt like a railroad track, Roland following to investigate, and upon seeing for himself by striking a light, couldn’t imagine what the metal conduits could’ve been meant for, but deciding they’d see where they led when waking again, the two bedding down. When Roland woke, Jake was already up and waiting by a rail, they following this for three sleeps, and after the fourth, bump into a car, Jake recognizing it for what it was because of cartoons, he demonstrating how it worked, a strange electronic voice encouraging the continuation of pushing it, Roland then helping. He locates the button to end the electronic voice, thankfully since it would speak every time it was pushed and they move on in silence.
The river they traveled by was sometimes close and at others almost inaudible, the workout for Roland of mostly pumping the car by himself helped his ability to pass out when they stopped, Jake eventually asking about his fight with his teacher after a long period of no conversation, and this not long before the ambush by the Slow Mutants. Roland explains how an unseen man had been hung for rape, Jake supplying he’d been “invisible”, Roland deciding not to share how the man had been captured right then. He continues with how a couple years later he had ditched a girl which he wished he hadn’t, but Jake knowing his sentiment wasn’t true, Roland fessing up to start his story of how he truly grew up. It took place in Gilead, the seriousness of war beginning, this is a few years after Hax’s death, Roland now fourteen and feeling like a horny teen, passes by his mother’s quarters on his way to the roof for some self-love, Marten calling to him of his mother wishing to speak with him. When he comes in to see she sitting there impassively, asking of his schoolwork and training, he notes Marten next to her seeming to have some control of her, the man stating he could leave, but Roland replying of his mother being the one to give this permission, Marten again excusing him and mentioning knowing where he’d been headed and the reason, Roland leaving and shockingly hearing Marten smack his mother and addressing her inappropriately.
Roland’s other buddy, Jamie was passing by and was deciding whether to update him on the most recent news of war, but upon seeing the look on Roland’s face, instead goes off to grab the other kids, Roland continuing on to Cort’s cabin where he rested and ended his schooling when awaking him, the man giving him a chance to change his mind, speaking of how bright a possibility he’d had if he had patience, but Roland’s mind was set, he being sent away to prepare for his probable expulsion. Roland gets David from the barn, the bird quite old now, but also allowing Roland to take him outside to the area the fight to adulthood would ceremoniously be won or lost, normally the spectators surrounding the spot being with friends and family, but today was only filled with Roland’s fellows, looking on with fear. When Bert mentions where Roland’s weapon was, he confirms he had it with him, Cort then entering and asking the traditional questions. Roland thought of his mother and father, the former somewhere currently inside the castle and the latter away on a hunt. When Roland announces his weapon was David, it only pauses Cort for a moment before they begin. When Roland uncovers David’s eyes, Cort speaks with contempt of Roland’s choice, fortunately David flying true, right at Cort’s face, he doing the first thing which could save the battle, the result leaving David on the ground, Roland attacking whilst the timing was right, but Cort still quick and grabbing at him, which tripped him, his possibility for success dwindling, until he felt David pecking at him, not able to see, so as Cort comes at him, Roland throws the broken bird at Cort, commanding David to “kill”, Cort landing on Roland.
Cort was still fighting him when he landed, Roland fending him off, David still inflicting damage, but he finally freeing himself of the bird, Roland breaking his nose and moving away before Cort could retaliate, grabbing the man’s weapon and standing over him. Cort makes a final play and Roland squarely hits him, Cort then gladly giving in, naming Roland a gunslinger, his recovery including a week in a coma. Before allowing Cort to fully pass out, he requests the key to where his guns would be, Cort leaving him with one final piece of advice, Roland acknowledging his words, stating he’d speak to the whores in town to not expect him for awhile, then designates his buddies to build a stretcher and instruct two nurses to attend to Cort. Roland comes to terms with now being the youngest gunslinger and the first of his group to ‘graduate’. This was also to be the night he lost his virginity, and whilst Roland hadn’t confided every detail, he believed Jake could deduce most of it, the boy’s reaction defensive and arrogant which was making Roland mad, especially when he mentions how the “game” he’d played may have been his foray into adulthood, but wondered if men ever truly matured, stating how he knew Roland was planning on using him as a bargaining “chip”, Roland then telling him to sleep.
When they’d moved on again, Jake saw the Slow Mutant first, they passing unharmed, but the three more ahead of them, standing in the way, Roland not expecting to be attacked, but shoots the first which heads for them. When they’re again lunged at, Jake is being pulled off the car, even after Roland shoots the creature, but after a bit more struggle, gets Jake loose, having him hang on by his belt (this calling back to the day I learned what this meant in prison, ha ha), they moving forward until again halted, this time by rocks on the track, Roland informing Jake he’d have to move them whilst he held them off with his guns, Jake not wanting to, but making a quick job of it, every “mutie” which made for him, Roland shooting. As more headed for them, Roland calls to Jake to return, they barreling over the rest, he keeping their fast pace well after he didn’t need to, they moving on for a few more days without any surprises. On their fourth waking, they approach a light source, Jake thinking the end was close, but Roland sensing otherwise.
As the light gets brighter, they see more stopped train cars of varying sorts, as well as more rail lines, many entrance ways ahead of them, and one of the signs in a language Roland could read, the two eventually getting off the car to walk, Jake reminded of this place looking like a “subway” station, but unable to define it, Roland seeing and taking a bow with arrows from a “weapon shop”. Jake points out a mummified body, the two supposing what had occurred and began seeing a few more as they proceeded. Roland instructs they return to the push car, but Jake deciding to stay, Roland feigning this was fine as Jake shouts after him of he believing Roland had made an agreement about him with someone, Roland then thinking how if he could wait until Jake matured a bit more, they both would be able to deal with Walter more easily, but turned from this idea, knowing they’d both be killed if they turned back, so Roland began moving the car, but Jake comes after him anyways, Roland sensing now the end was near.
Jake pumps the car for awhile so Roland could test the bow and arrows, which weren’t in good shape and couldn’t be repaired. The river becomes louder as they traveled, and after a few sleeps a new light begins to grow, it heading to an eventual crossing over the river. As well as this, natural sunshine was ahead, barely a pinprick, Jake halting them for a moment to inquire whether Roland thought Walter wanted them to cross the river to fall in the middle, Roland knowing this wasn’t probable, but stating ignorance, Roland then after inspecting the drop, suggests they walk across, Jake leading and Roland ready to help him should he stumble, the beams settling audibly as Roland walked across them, Jake almost taking a tumble when losing his balance for a moment before recovering, warning of a pot-hole and speaking of it like the game Simon Says, Roland knowing it as “Mother Says”. Roland feels like the walk was taking much more time than it truly was, also imagining how he’d react if he fell, he attempting to keep his thoughts from wandering to the boy’s future and how close the agreement was to completing.
Jake announces of planning to jump across the remaining distance, he stating Roland’s weight wouldn’t hold where he’d been standing and should head back without him, Roland noticing the underlying terror in his voice despite the attempt to sound calm. Roland takes a large step forward, Jake repeating for Roland to return the way he’d come and not wishing to die by Roland’s hand, the gunslinger demanding Jake continue on so both wouldn’t plummet into the river, and upon walking on, they inclined toward the sunshine, it then blocked by Walter, he greeting them mockingly. Roland reaches for the jawbone, but he no longer had it, and as Walter laughed, Jake lost his footing and hung to the side, Walter stating Roland approach, or not see him again, as Jake requested aid. Walter threatens to go as Roland debated, but he jumps forward with his goal of the Tower in his mind. Jake relents to his fate and speaks of accepting Roland ditching him as he grasped the ledge, the whole railing giving way and falling as he clung to it, Jake not making a sound. Roland knows he would be thinking of Jake and this moment long into the future, and as he approached Walter, the man in black envies his moving to the next step, Roland taking some shots at him, as Walter leads him to where they’d speak.
Walter takes him to an ages old murder circle with different animal skulls surrounding them, Roland noting how Mid-World must be near, if he hadn’t already arrived. Walter suggests Roland gather wood, since the cold would still bite, afterward he building and lighting a fire, he then designating Roland to make their food, he giving him a dead rabbit. Roland cooks it and hands the whole body back to him when done, he taking out the leftover jerky he had, Walter seeming annoyed Roland would think he’d hex the food. Roland states of Walter’s looks being younger than he’d thought, Walter confessing he’d wanted to show his real one, he then bringing Roland’s attention to the sunset which he believed Roland should view for the idea he may feel like he won’t again see it for quite some time, Roland stating his indifference by this point.
Walter prepares to read Roland’s future with his extended Tarot deck, the first card drawn being told of signifying “strength”, and by the second card turned, Walter having mentioned Jake both times, then by the fourth, Roland wanting to know why Walter was having him view the cards at all, he answering by commanding he only sit through it like one would at a religious service, and upon continuing, pulls the reaper and the Tower (it reminding me of the oracle’s prophecy), then upon getting to his seventh card, Walter states of it meaning life, but not in regards to Roland, he sharing how he wasn’t the man he was searching for, he only working for him. Walter then commands Roland sleep, he lunging for Walter, but not connecting, and when next conscious, Walter has light come on when announcing wanting some, and expanding the scenery as he spoke of it.
Roland sees earth made and animals crawling on it, also seeing moons revolve, and other planets. Walter continues to demand “light”, Roland now requesting him to stop, and Walter telling him he’d have to end his quest for the Tower, but when Roland refuses, Walter continues his command for light, and before protecting himself from it, Roland views something highly significant before returning to a safety within. When Roland gets up, Walter isn’t in sight, but speaks from behind him, confessing of being impressed with how he’d handled what he’d shown him, sharing of what he’d seen, and Roland not understanding, then bluntly stating how the Tower would remain beyond his reach. Roland defends himself by stating of Walter not understanding him enough to make such an assumption, Walter becoming serious and relating how he had been Marten, which he knew Roland believed and he’s the farthest traveled servant of the red ruler of the Dark Tower, Roland inquiring about Walter’s words of why he’d mentioned “red”, but he not delving further, only stating how Roland wouldn’t learn anything new and wouldn’t ever do so, then asking him to describe the last thing he’d seen, Roland detailing of it being a single purple “blade of grass”, Walter then requesting Roland listen.
Walter begins with the universe being “the Great All”, going further to explain how a mind couldn’t “grasp the infinite”, and one company “or cabal” had gotten closest, “the North Central Positronics”. When Walter goes on to confess how many accomplishments had been made, regarding disease, space travel, and the closeness of curing old age, Roland interrupts by declaring disbelief, Walter allowing he didn’t need to believe it, but even with all of this headway, no one seeming impressed with the knowledge, nor understood it, the reason he mentioned this was how the universe didn’t offer “life”, but the vastness of everything, claiming there was an “end” to anything would be presumptuous. After giving many examples of what he meant about universes being right out of reach or stacked on, or beside each other, he brings in the idea of the Tower being connected to another place, and rhetorically asks if he’d go to the top and see what was in the “Room”, he believing he wouldn’t do so.
Roland suggests God would go, or Walter’s king, then inquires if the room contained anything, Walter uncertain and wary of what would happen should he look, Roland then napping after stoking the fire. When he notices Walter looking at him, he demands he stop, checking for the dawn, which Walter sees and states of they having more to discuss, as his king had informed him, before the sun was meant to rise again. Walter makes certain, after Roland asks about the king again, whether he truly saw him as an equal, this being the only way honesty could be had, Roland beginning with what Walter had meant when mentioning a “glammer” (which I don’t remember reading…), Walter defining this in how it stayed dark, the king responsible for this. Walter then states their discussion would take quite some time and the specific amount unknown. Roland then is given his chance to ask whatever he wished, Walter stating how he’d not met his king before and Roland would locate “the Ageless Stranger”, and kill him first before he did.
Walter describes how his king visited him through his dreams, he working for him since he was a child, Roland being the end of his tasks. Upon being asked the name of the Stranger, Walter shares it was Legion, Roland inquiring whom was the one which was worse, when Walter mentions this, but he denying to answer, mentioning anything of End-World being the killer of souls. Roland approaches the subject differently, asking whether after Legion was the Tower, Walter confirming, but again knowing this wasn’t what Roland wanted to know. When he asks, Walter states how if he gave him the answer, he’d surely shoot him, Roland agreeing, so instead inquires where he would next need to go, Walter going off tangent about how Marten had not left, and Roland coming to terms with how the man had only changed form, Walter then stating how he’d share stories of Roland so he could learn more, he stating how he knew his mission was to locate the Tower, Walter informing him it was more about his mind, he being an original kind, he then offering Roland tobacco, making sure he was satisfied with it, since it could be the final smoke he had for quite awhile, he then going into the Tower being sought after, since it had come to be, and it had been standing an infinite amount of time.
Roland didn’t absorb much of their long conversation, the important bit being his heading for the ocean, which was twenty miles away and would gain “the power of drawing”. Walter clarifies Roland already had this power and would draw three, Walter readying to leave and before doing so, again brings light, this time Roland glad to see it. He wakes ten years older, Walter now a skeleton, which Roland is suspicious to believe was truly Walter, he taking the jawbone, and making it to the coast. He then waits for the moment of the drawing, imagining the day he’d reach the Tower and the fight which would come.
And immediately I want to know more, but I’ll be continuing with The Eyes of the Dragon before I do. This was a quick and interesting official start into the series, and I’m exhilarated in my foray into King reading. I also wonder if this will be covered in the movie, or if it truly is a continuation after the 7th book… We shall see!