It's hard to know where to start. Seven books (I haven't read book 4.5 or the ones by other authors, just the main series), a million odd words and over six months of my life has been spent in the company of Roland of Gilead and his Ka-tet. Okay so I'm not the fastest reader, but after receiving the first four books for Christmas, I embarked on the quest that is reading the series.
Obviously for such a large series, I've tried hard to not give anything away or ruin anything. You won't find out what happens, but my thoughts on each book in relation to the story as a whole.
The first book, The Gunslinger, introduces us to Roland and his quest for the Dark Tower. I read the revised version so have no idea whether the original was a raw as everyone says. All I know is that it hooked me into Roland and his quest. The combination of Horror, Cowboy and Fantasy sounds unusual, but it works. You don't fully know what his quest is during the first book, I guess Mr King himself didn't fully know at that point, he just knew he had a big idea.
The second and third books see Roland gain followers/helpers who are drawn into this slightly odd world to help the quest. While certainly easier to read than the first book, these set us up well for the latter books. New characters are introduced and the best part of an epic this length is we really get to know the characters. Like most of Stephen King's work, it's the feeding of small bits of information of the world and the characters that really make these not only page-turners but also book-turners.
Book IV, Wizard and Glass - I already partially reviewed here.
V Wolves Of The Calla - My favourite of the series. Whether it's because Stephen King's writing has matured enough by the point he wrote it or it's just a fantastic plot I'm not sure. The book is in some ways a sidetrack to the quest, a town where one of each twin child is abducted every twenty or so years by 'Wolves.' Again, it's a long read and again you can't stop reading. So much so that I thought it seemed rushed, which is an odd thing to say about a 700 odd pages book.
The least two books, VI Song of Susannah and VII The Dark Tower was a turning point. For some reason, both these seemed far two long and contained certain events and a character (not going to say what or who) that just took me out of the story. Reading the last book became a chore in the end rather than the finale it should have been.
I suppose, as a whole I really enjoyed the series, despite the last two books. Maybe the last two books were really one book that had 1,000 too many pages in? I'm not sure as a lot did happen in those books, maybe it was the 'other thing' as I'll call it. Don't know. If I had the choice of going back to Christmas and reading 20 other books or The Dark Tower again, I'd chose this. Life after the Dark Tower is going to be unusual for a while. I've got a shed-load of books I've been wanting to read for six months and I reckon at some point later in the year I'll be reading book 4.5, just to see if it stays true to the fantastic middle segment of the series. I've also started to think of the cat as Oy and keep expecting it to say Ake, which I guess I'm not alone amongst Dark Tower readers as doing.