Review

The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus

by Bev Vincent



It was inevitable that with the completion of The Dark Tower
series, the Stephen King epic work that has spanned seven volumes
and three decades, there would be a series of works that summarize,
interpret, and define what probably will be considered King's
penultimate work. There is a fine two-volume concordance that
already has been published. Hot on the heels of the publication of
the final volume of The Dark Tower series, we have THE ROAD TO THE
DARK TOWER by Bev Vincent, the first of what will undoubtedly be
several more scholarly evaluations of the work.

Vincent wisely takes an orderly approach to a daunting subject. He
begins with a real world overview of what occurred from King's
commencement of The Dark Tower work through its completion. He then
presents a book-by-book analysis of each volume in the series,
devoting a chapter to each. Vincent, as reasonably might be
expected, presumes that the reader has some familiarity with the
story. As he warns early on, there are spoilers inside.
Accordingly, do not expect a Cliff's Notes treatment with respect
to the discussion of each volume; if you haven't read the books,
you're going to get lost pretty early.

What Vincent does in THE ROAD TO THE DARK TOWER is to provide a
companion volume to the work, a refresher as to what occurred and
in what order. Perhaps the most enjoyable and valuable part of this
book is a chapter dealing with the numerous books and stories of
King that took place outside of The Dark Tower volumes yet are
still a part of the epic. As Vincent notes in that chapter,
entitled "Related Works," King found it increasingly difficult to
keep the tale out of everything else that he wrote, a fact that is
self-evident to those Constant Readers who have been reading King's
works contemporaneously with the publication of each from the
beginning.

Vincent also spends a chapter discussing each of the principal
characters in The Dark Tower, even taking a couple of pages to
discuss Oy, whose importance in the Quest of The Tower is
understated but unmistakable. Vincent closes THE ROAD TO THE DARK
TOWER with three chapters dealing respectively with the influences
that shaped The Dark Tower, King's interjection of himself into the
epic, and a discussion of whether The Dark Tower is, indeed, King's
magnum opus.

Actually, Vincent doesn't really close the volume with these
chapters. There are several appendices that are worth the price of
admission all by themselves. Of particular interest are the
fictional and real world timelines --- the fictional timeline is
actually in two parts, one dealing with Mid-World and the other
dealing with Keystone Earth (as I said, you gotta read the books)
--- and a Mid-World glossary (say thank ya). And, if all of the
foregoing is not enough for you, there is a list --- thorough but
changing by the minute --- of URLs for websites dealing
exhaustively with The Dark Tower and its creator.

Vincent has done yeoman's work here. While THE ROAD TO THE DARK
TOWER will not be the last word on Roland's quest and the Stephen
King Universe, it will undoubtedly be the standard by which all
future works on the subject will be judged. Highly
recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus
by Bev Vincent

  • Publication Date: September 28, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction, Nonfiction, Reference
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade
  • ISBN-10: 0451213041
  • ISBN-13: 9780451213044