Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his parents separated when Stephen was a toddler, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood wer
The bestselling novelist scales down his literary ambition with a return to the Dark Tower series.
Though King has expanded his thematic terrain and elevated his critical reputation in recent years (11/22/63, 2011 etc.), he remains a master of fantastic stories spun from a very fertile imagination that seek to do nothing more (or less) than entertain. Some readers might be surprised at this return to the narrative that King had apparently concluded with the massive The Dark Tower (2004), the seventh book in the series. Yet rather than extend and revive the plot in this installment, he mines a seam from earlier in the series, suggesting that "this book should be shelved between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla...which makes it, I suppose Dark Tower 4.5." He also makes a point of reassuring readers new to the series that they can start here, that the novel can be understood as a stand-alone title (with just a little contextual background, which he summarizes in a couple of paragraphs). Short by King's standards, the novel draws inspiration from tales of knighthood and Old West gunslingers, as its story-within-a-story (within a story) details the rite-of-passage heroism of Roland Deschain, who saves a terrified boy in Mid-World from a shape-shifting marauder. "These tales nest inside each other," explains Roland at the outset, as he prepares to recount a story through which its characters drew courage and inspiration from a story. Read full book review >
After a five-year lapse, King's gargantuan cowboy romance about Roland of Gilead (the Gunslinger) hits volume four, with three more planned. King's behemoth was begun in 1970 and published serially as The Gunslinger (1988), followed by The Drawing of the Three (1989) and The Waste Lands (1992). Read full book review >
Chapter three of King's epic alternate-world saga (1988, 1989) finds Roland the Gunslinger and his sidekicks continuing their quest for the Dark Tower—and the Maine master keyboarding some of his least restrained writing in years, great sagging storm clouds of padded prose that only occasionally thunder or brighten with lightning inspiration. The storyline by now is so complex that King opens with a four-page "Argument" summing up past action and tracing ties between major characters. Read full book review >