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The Gunslinger is the first installment of The Dark Tower Series written by Stephen King. The book was originally published June 10, 1982. The story centers on Roland Deschain and his pursuit of the Man in Black. The subtitle of this book is RESUMPTION.


The first novel of the series begins seemingly in the middle of the story, following Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger. The novel is set in All-World. As Roland journeys across the desert in quest of the Man in Black, he meets Brown, a farmer and Zoltan, his pet raven. Roland spends the night there and recalls his time in Tull. The Man in Black had also lingered in the town, resurrecting a dead man addicted to the opiate-like "devil grass" and leaving a trap for Roland. Roland encounters the local church's leader, who informs him that the Man in Black has impregnated her with a demon. Roland is compelled to kill every citizen of the village as she sets the entire community against him.

Roland arrives at an abandoned way station and meets Jake Chambers for the first time. Roland passes out due to dehydration, and Jake gives him water. Jake has no idea how long he's been at the way station or how he got there, and he ducked as the guy in black walked by. Roland hypnotises Jake to learn the facts of his death and learns he died in another world that looks to be much more similar to our own in nature. While heading to school in Manhattan, he was shoved in front of a car. Before leaving, Roland and Jake look for food in a cellar. Roland encounters a demon. Roland subdues the demon and extracts a jawbone from the hole where it spoke to him.

Roland and Jake finally make it out of the desert. Roland saves Jake from a Succubus encounter and urges him to keep the jawbone as a protection charm. Roland couples with the Succubus, an oracle, in order to learn more about his fate and the road to The Dark Tower. In a flashback, it is revealed that Roland is Steven Deschain's son. The memory also recounts Roland's severe training at the hands of his tutor, Cort. Roland explains how he was duped into a premature test of manhood by battling with Cort at the age of fourteen, before any other trainee.

Marten, Steven's magician, who seduced Roland's mother, Gabrielle Deschain, irritated him. It is well acknowledged that this was a period of unrest and upheaval. In combat, Roland overcame Cort via weapon choices, sacrificing his hawk, David, to distract Cort. This is not the only time Roland will sacrifice a friend in order to achieve his goal of reaching the Tower.

Jake and Roland see the Man in Black at the mountain, and he warns them that he will only meet one of them on the other side, exacerbating Jake's suspicions that Roland will either murder or forsake him. Roland and Jake ride an antiquated railway handcar through the mountain's twisty tunnels. They are assaulted by enormous subterranean creatures known as "Slow Mutants." As the track on which they are moving begins to fail at the tunnel's exit, Roland lets Jake fall into an abyss and continues his journey.

Roland descends the mountain after sacrificing Jake to talk with the Man in Black, also known as Walter. Walter predicts Roland's fate using a deck of cards that includes omens like "the sailor," "the prisoner," "the woman of shadows," "death," and the Tower itself. Walter claims to be a puppet in the hands of Roland's actual antagonist, who now controls the Dark Tower itself. The Man in Black also discloses his identity as Marten.

He then sends Roland a vision of the cosmos, speeding out past a red planet with canals, a ring of rocks, a big stormy planet, a ringed planet, and then to galaxies and beyond, aiming to shock Roland by demonstrating his true insignificance. Walter then requests that Roland abandon his quest. When Roland refuses, the Man in Black orders him to walk west before putting him to sleep. When Roland awakens, it has been ten years, and there is a skeleton next to him that he believes is Walter's. Roland removes the jawbone from the skeleton before proceeding to the Western Sea.