The Literary Phoenix

Funny, the damage a silly little book can do. Especially in the hands of a silly little girl.


The Dark Tower by Stephen King (Audiobook)The Dark Tower

by Stephen King

Narrated by George Guidall

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

Series: The Dark Tower (7)
Genres: FantasyHorrorFictionScience FictionScience Fiction FantasyEpicAdventureWesternAudiobookNovels
Published By: Grant in 2004 (First Hardcover Release)
Format: Digital Audiobook (28 hours, 10 minutes)

Goodreads / LibraryThing

All good things must come to an end, Constant Listener, and not even Stephen King can write a story that goes on forever. The tale of Roland Deschain’s relentless quest for the Dark Tower has, the author fears, sorely tried the patience of those who have followed it from its earliest chapters. But attend to it a while longer, if it pleases you, for this volume is the last, and often the last things are best.

Roland’s ka-tet remains intact, though scattered over wheres and whens. Susannah-Mia has been carried from the Dixie Pig (in the summer of 1999) to a birthing room (really a chamber of horrors) in Thunderclap’s Fedic Station; Jake and Father Callahan, with Oy between them, have entered the restaurant on Lex and 61st with weapons drawn, little knowing how numerous and noxious are their foes. Roland and Eddie are with John Cullum in Maine, in 1977, looking for the site on Turtleback Lane where “walk-ins” have been often seen. They want desperately to get back to the others, to Susannah especially, and yet they have come to realize that the world they need to escape is the only one that matters.

Thus the audiobook opens, like a door to the uttermost reaches of Stephen King’s imagination. You’ve come this far. Come a little farther. Come all the way. The sound you hear may be the slamming of the door behind you. Welcome to The Dark Tower.


I have read this book twice, but this was the first time I’ve listened to it.  And, for some strange reason, I remembered most of the ending completely wrong.

There are a few spoilers are you go along, impossible to avoid unless I leave my review to “I liked it” so read at your own risk.




I have always loved the dark and sinister, but somehow still likable Roland Deschain.  Eddie and Jake and Oy are all well-loved as well, and even Susannah grows on me.  This book sees the addition of a few characters, and a farewell to many.  But it is Roland, ultimately, whose heartbeat thrums in tune with the Tower, and he who drives the story.  He is raw, Eastwood-esque, and perfect in his setting.  All of King’s characters in this story are perfectly placed… except himself.  I have a difficult time getting past how narcissistic it is for King to make himself a central player in this world.  However, the story plays out well and the character is important, although insufferable.



I can all but feel the radiation in the air as Susannah and Roland travel through the badlands.  Unlike many fantasy authors, King does not wax on poetically about his setting, but his world comes to life anyway in the nuances.  The Tower, at last in its final glory, is a breathtaking image in my mind.




It’s far too easy to spend most of this book crying.

King kills off his characters with the cold indifference that George R. R. Martin does, and you want to be angry at him for it, but yet… somehow you know the deaths were inevitable.  Your heart breaks for each and every loss – for me, Jake and Oy were the worst of all – and even the first one comes so suddenly it shocks you.  For some reason, I had remembered these deaths in a different way and in a different order.  I think perhaps my mind was rewriting the story in a way it preferred to remember.  They make sense the way they are written, and they are perfectly heartbreaking.

As for the very, very end?  The end is perfect.

Writing / Narration



I have always appreciated the way King writes this series.  It is raw, uncompromising.  At no point could it be mistaken as pretty or flowery.  But it is right.  The world has moved on and everything is jagged, emaciated, broken.  The perspectives shift seamlessly and the story is as vibrant as J. R. R. Tolkien’s illustrious descriptions.  All in all, it’s just a different type of world.

As for the narration, I do like this narrator.  The Dark Tower series as a whole has two different narrators, and they are both excellent.  Guidall does Roland better, or so I think.  There is more of a drawl to him that fits the character.  The three books narrated by Frank Muller are fine as well, so don’t let the switch in narrators drive you away from the series.

Personal Thoughts


Now that I’ve finished this series for the third time all the way through, and with the film coming out in July, I still find myself disappointed it is over.  It’s a gritty, ruthless tale, but it’s definitely re-readable.  For myself, I think the writing in the Dark Tower series is much stronger than his fantasy books, although nobody can claim that King isn’t a prolific writer.

All in all, the first book in the series is one of my desert island books, but to truly appreciate Roland Deschain and his ka-tet, you must read all seven.  They are long, but absolutely worth the time to go on the adventure.


One of best opening/finishing lines in my library: “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”  Read this series.  Please.


I purchased this audiobook on Audible in 2015 (on my birthday, actually, that was very nice of me!).  However, I also own the paperback of this book.  It’s the type of book worth having multiple copies!

First Sentence

“Pere Don Callahan had once been the Catholic priest of a town, ‘Salem’s Lot had been it’s name, that no longer existed on any map.”

Some of My Favorite Quotes

“I’ve met talespinners before, Jake, and they’re all cut more or less from the same cloth. They tell tales because they’re afraid of life.”

He fell silent. For several moments they all did, and the quiet had the feel of a deliberate thing. Then Eddie said, “All right, we’re back together again. What the hell do we do next?”

And will I tell you that these three lived happily ever after? I will not, for no one ever does. But there was happiness. And they did live.

Hot chocolate in Central Park! What was the Dark Tower compared to that?

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Alternate Covers

Available At

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound (hardcopy only) / Audible /


15 Minute Ficlets is a weekly challenge based on the original 15 Minute Ficlets LiveJournal Community.  Since this community has been defunct since 2013, I’ve decided to resurrect the challenge on my blog as a weekly Sunday writing challenge.  If there’s interest, I’ll turn this into a meme (link up in the comments if you try it!).  In the meanwhile, the rules:

Based on a single word, write a story in fifteen minutes.  The word count is irrelevant.  Just write your heart out for 15 minutes and be inspired by the word.  You never know what you’ll end up with!

This week’s word: maelstrom

You have 15 minutes.  Go!

(I apologize for missing last week… I’ve been extremely under the weather these last few weeks and haven’t been getting online frequently.)

Her mother ran her fingers over the ivory keys with the skill and grace expected of any lady.  As she watched the way her mother’s fingers glided, Winnifred took a deep, unseemly breath, and just like that, the music stopped.  The lid to the piano closed, hiding the keys beneath a cover of polished mahogany.

Her mother sighed one of her exaggerated sighs that could only mean the depth of disappointment her precious daughter brought to her.  Winnifred leBrenne didn’t need telepathy to tell that she would never be good enough for her high-strung mother.  She stood, and looked down at her young daughter, her eyes like stone.

You will never be good enough.

The thought would have once made Winnie cringe, but it was a common mantra now.  The Lady leBrenne looked her daughter up and down the way a butcher might eye a cow he was about to slaughter.  She was tall, as tall as her tycoon husband, with slender tanned legs and perfectly soft golden hair that fell in little ringlets just past her shoulders.  She had grey eyes, like a maelstrom, and her personality was just as unpredictable.  Her fingers were long and thing, and with them now she picked up the silver diapason and tapped it gently.  A clear, crisp note rang through the warm springtime air, and her mother closed her eyes.

“Do you hear that note, Peach?” her mother always called her ‘peach,’ or ‘berry,’ or some other fruit with a sweet flavor. “It is the sound of perfection.  It is the beautiful call of the sirens on the waters.  You must never stray too high above or too low beneath this note, or else you will sound like a gull.  Do you understand?”

Even at the age of twelve, Winnifred’s mother spoke to her as though she were an ignorant infant.  Music was the only skill her mother insisted upon teaching her personally, and as a result, it was her most miserable subject.  Her father said she sang like a pretty little meadowlark, but she knew her mother despised him for his gentility.  She will never learn if she is babied, her mother often thought.  She also knew that her mother thought she could marry her daughter off to some well-placed Duke, or perhaps the Prince of Kyrix himself.  She loathed the idea of being placed in such a way that she was her mother’s pawn.

Often, she sang poorly just to vex her mother.

“We will try it again,” her mother said, sitting back down at the grand piano and placing the forked diapason beside her.

It is useless.  She could not charm a codfish. 

Winnifred bit her tongue, swallowing a quip that certainly would get her ears boxed.  She hated that punishment more than all the others, for it made her ears ring for days and that sound, added to her endless headache from the chatter in the grand mansion around her, led to fits of dizziness and nausea.  Her mother thought her weak as a flower for the time she would spend bedridden with illness, but if she could only shut the voices off, she would have been a perfectly happy young lady.

“Tea time, mistresses,” one of the maids called into them.  She bore a polished silver tray with a hand-painted porcelain teapot, two cups and saucers, and two buttery scones that made Winnifred’s mouth water.

“Just set it over there,” her mother gestured with a flick of her wrist.  She never bothered to learn the names of their servants.  To Winnifred, she added, “We will not break for tea until you sing properly.”

The ultimatum understood, Winnifred filled her lungs and when the piano began to sing, so did she.

When I write short stories, I usually like to carve moments out from the novel ideas I have running around my head.  Winnifred leBrenne is one of the many characters from The Sin Series, the story that has been running through my mind since I was nine.  Winnie was never intended to be a lead characters – she was just the kid sister of one of the other mages – but she blossomed and grew and has because one of my more important characters.  She was raised as an heiress with an expectation of greatness, the weight that she sheds at her first opportunity.  The above is simply another moment in her pre-story life.

If you give it a go anytime this week, link up in the comments and I’ll add you in the post!


“Maelstrom” – Michelle @ Faerie Fits