18 June 2006

The Dark Tower Family Tree

This July sees the final book, in paperback, of Stephen King's most popular series come to a conclusion. Here is a brief look at how most of King's books published over the last 25 plus years are somewhat connected to that universe.

The Dark Tower Family Tree

The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger
"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
Thus the reader is introduced to Roland of Gilead, the last gunslinger from a dying world. His pursuit of the man in black is only the first step in the epic that is the journey to the Dark Tower, the axis upon which infinite worlds revolve.

The Stand/Eyes of the Dragon
(These books have a significant place in the narrative arc of the Tower series, providing background information, and early appearances of the major series antagonist's -Randall Flagg and the Crimson King.) In the final pages of The Gunslinger, Roland catches up with the man in black, and through their encounter it is revealed to Roland in a prophetic form that in order to fulfill his destiny he must do battle with a powerful wizard.

Insomnia/Black House/Hearts in Atlantis
From the pages of The Gunslinger, the prophecy regarding Flagg also states that Roland must get past The Beast, the keeper of the Tower. In Black House we learn that The Beast is a character we've met before, called the Crimson King (Hearts in Atlantis/Insomnia), and that his actions are ultimately what has put the Tower in danger and prompted Roland's quest. Ralph Roberts, the protagonist of Insomnia, and readers alike first encountered the Crimson King in that book's climax, where in a climatic battle, Ralph gouges out one of the King's eyes. Soon after, the book cuts to an image of Roland lying on the beach of his world, sleeping easier because for the moment, the King's plans have failed and the Tower is still safe.

Eyes of the Dragon/The Stand
The encounter with Flagg that will take place over the pages of these final three books (The Wolves of Calla, The Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower) is one that Stephen King readers have been wanting for since 1978. They were promised that this would be "another tale, for another day" in Eyes of the Dragon and reminded again with the revelation of Flagg's survival at the end of the updated The Stand. Flagg is at the center of that promise, and along with the Crimson King, the revelation of their back-stories in these other books is what has allowed the series as a whole to exist on such an epic level, without having to pause its narrative to develop and explore players outside of the ka-tet.

The Drawing of the Three

The Drawing of the Three

Roland's search for the Tower continues, as he gathers the fellowship that will accompany him along the way. Through mystical doors, Roland finds passage to different worlds with in the Tower's realm, each one opened into the mind of those destined to play a part in the fate of infinite worlds.

Eyes of the Dragon
In The Drawing of the Three, Roland has a brief encounter with Thomas, one of the protagonists from The Eyes of the Dragon, seen in pursuit of Flagg, the antagonist from both The Eyes of the Dragon and The Stand. Thomas's pursuit is a reference to the promise made at the end of Dragon that the final confrontation between the book's heroes and Flagg was still somewhere on the horizon.

The Waste Lands

The Waste Lands
Ka is fate, and a ka-tet is a group bound by destiny. Roland's ka-tet is now complete, and as they follow the path of the Beam, the path to the Tower, they must travel through the waste lands of a dying world. Those they meet on the way are less than friendly, and while a timeless evil (Flagg) makes his presence known, the Tower, its meaning and its fate, keep getting closer.

The Stand
In The Waste Lands, Stephen King lets Flagg cross over fully into The Dark Tower world and years later, in the final pages of Wizard and Glass, it is confirmed that Flagg and the wizard of prophecy are indeed one and the same.

Wizard and Glass

Wizard and Glass
This is the story of Roland's youth, his original ka-tet of gunslingers, and the continued path along the Beam. In the now, Roland's newest troupe must travel through the land of the Crimson King, a multi-world figure fated to destroy the Tower and rule the ruin, with his ally -an old friend if evil can count itself as such -Flagg. Flagg, the traveling dude with hands free of lines and penchant for worlds in ruin is but one of the many challenges anticipated for Roland and the last gunslingers.

The Stand
Roland and his ka-tet briefly visit a world ravaged by the same Captain Tripps super-flu virus that devastated the global population in The Stand. The final pages of the expanded edition of The Stand maintain the continuity of the series as a whole by revealing that Flagg survived the book's climax.

Insomnia/Hearts in Atlantis
The encounter at the end of Wizard and Glass between Flagg and Roland, along with his fellow gunslingers, occurs in the court of the Crimson King, a territory marked by the symbol of a one-eyed King (Insomnia).

Insomnia/Eyes of the Dragon
In his own words, from the afterword to Wizard and Glass, Stephen King came to the understanding that Mid-World (the world of The Dark Tower) contains all the other (worlds) of my making; there is a place in Mid-World for Randall Flagg and the wandering boys from Eyes of the Dragon and Ralph Roberts from Insomnia and they will meet up in the land of Thunderclap as the saga reaches its climax.

Minor Titles

Prominently features one of the 12 guardians of the Tower's universe, The Turtle. Tower lore reads that the death of the guardians would be the sign of the Towers weakened state. By the end of IT, The Turtle is dead.

Rose Madder
Features a porthole to Lud, one of the Mid-World cities.

Hearts in Atlantis
The novella, Low Men in Yellow Coats, outlines the role of physics (the Breakers) in the Crimson King's plan to destroy the Tower. Expect a revisit of the character Ted Brautigan before the series concludes.

Talisman/Black House
Fully outlines the Crimson King's plan and updates readers as to Roland's progress.

Everything's Eventual
Features a story of Roland set prior to the events of The Gunslinger. It also features a story (the title story) of a man with physic abilities (a Breaker). Stephen King has said that Dinky Earnshaw will have a role at Thunderclap.

Desperation/The Regulators
These books exist in worlds parallel to each other, an illustration of how the Dark Tower universe works. Also, the antagonist, Tak, has been referenced in the Tower books, but what role he plays remains to be seen.

Salem's Lot
The character of Father Callahan was reintroduced in Book V: The Wolves of Calla

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i think stephen king killed this beautiful story with his bare hands. why didnt he write of the witch again? why did he demystify randall flagg.. he pissed on the tale and may he be damned for it..
i will never forgive him for ruining the gunslinger stories like he did with those pathetic sequels..