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Thread: Dark Tower reading order **SPOILERS**

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    Traveler Arch Stanton is on a distinguished road

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    Default Dark Tower reading order **SPOILERS**

    I have a friend who's interested in reading the Dark Tower books and I'm considering loaning them to him in this order. This is not the order I read them in myself (I read the seven main books back to back and caught up on the others later), but I think this could be the most beneficial reading order in terms of fully understanding all the characters from other King works Roland and his friends encounter along the way, and I'm curious if you agree or not.

    1. The Gunslinger
    Because it's the beginning.

    2. The Eyes of the Dragon
    No real reason to put this here except for the reference to it in The Drawing of the Three, and I felt like it had to go somewhere since Flagg's in it. Not sure how I feel about reading it before The Stand, which I think is a better introduction to Flagg as Flagg (as opposed to Flagg as Walter, who already appeared in The Gunslinger), but The Stand really needs to be read later, and there's not much room for Eyes anywhere else.

    3. The Drawing of the Three
    4. The Waste Lands
    I tried to space these so there'd always be at least one (and preferably no more than one, although that didn't always work out) story separating each DT book, just to give the reader a breather from Roland's quest and to introduce some plot elements or characters who would become important in the next book, but I just didn't have enough non-DT books to put one between two and three. I think this worked out for the best, though; after the brief break of Eyes of the Dragon, we spend the next two books filling out and developing Roland's ka-tet, then leave them on a cliffhanger for a while, trapped inside Blaine the Mono.

    5. The Stand
    Included because of Randall Flagg's prominence in it, placed between DT III and IV because Roland and his friends find themselves in the world this novel takes place in in Wizard and Glass. Richard Fannin appears at the end of The Waste Lands and tells the Tick-Tock Man about Trashcan Man's "My life for you!" mantra. This cameo serves as kind of a teaser for The Stand, and the events in the plague world in Wizard and Glass as a kind of epilogue to it.

    6. Wizard and Glass
    Next DT book.

    7. 'Salem's Lot
    Introduces Father Callahan, who becomes a major character in DT V.

    8. Wolves of the Calla
    Next DT book.

    9. The Little Sisters of Eluria
    Truth be told, this is a kind of arbitrary placement, but I have my reasons. If we were going strictly chronologically, it should be read even before The Gunslinger, but that would ruin the narrative framing of the first and last books, as well as make a much poorer introduction to the character of Roland and his world and quest. If read after Wolves, "Little Sisters" serves as a kind of concluding flashback to all the stories about Roland's past we've gotten throughout the series, in books one, four, and five. In Wolves, there is a mention that Roland only ever loved one girl after Susan Delgado; that line foreshadows this story, and then DT VI references the events of it, treating the reader as if he's already aware of them. With this reading order, he will be.

    10. Everything's Eventual
    11. Low Men in Yellow Coats
    Admittedly, the placement of these two is pretty arbitrary. It might make more sense to read them between DT VI and VII, since the characters they introduce won't appear in Roland's story until the final book, but I already have a two-novel break between books six and seven, and only one short story between five and six. So it made more sense to me, in the interest of spacing out Roland's story a bit more while at the same time not spacing it wider than it needs to be, to move these two stories back one book.

    12. Song of Susannah
    Next DT book.

    13. Insomnia
    First appearance of the Crimson King, as well as Patrick Danville, who will become an important character in the last book.

    14. Black House
    I haven't read this one yet but I understand it is heavily linked with the plot of DT VII, to the point that it is basically a DT book without Roland. Also the Crimson King appears.

    15. The Dark Tower
    Because it's the end.

    Thoughts about this reading order? My biggest concern is the huuuuge break between books three and four for The Stand. It's the longest of all these books, and despite Flagg's prominence, it's really only tangentially related to Roland's story. I feel like a new King reader could get sidetracked here for quite a while and lose the flow of the DT narrative in the process. Anyway, thoughts? suggestions?

    On a related note, I have yet to read Insomnia but I've read online that DT VII contradicts the continuity of that book, but I haven't been able to find out what exactly this means. According to Wikipedia:
    Patrick Danville returns in The Dark Tower VII. In Insomnia he describes both the Crimson King and "another king" named Roland being in his dreams. The continuity present in Insomnia, however, is different. The most obvious examples include the Crimson King not being trapped at the top of the Dark Tower (when he is actually trapped on a third floor balcony) and Patrick Danville, while ultimately defeating the Crimson King, not dying while saving two men.
    Can anyone explain what this means? Are the Patrick Danville and the Crimson King who appear in Insomnia the same ones who appear in DT VII, or are the events of that book only connected to the events of The Dark Tower as fictional events within a book by Stephen King (the book given to Roland in DT VII), rather than events that happened in an alternate world from which Patrick Danville eventually passed into Roland's world?

    Basically I'm wondering exactly in Insomnia is contradicted by The Dark Tower. I know there's a prophecy about Patrick dying to save two men or something that doesn't come true, but I wouldn't really consider a prophecy not coming true to be a deal-breaking continuity error. And supposedly the Crimson King is trapped in the wrong part of the Tower, but do we physically see him at the top of the Tower in Insomnia or is it more like a dream or metaphor or secondhand info?

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    Silverloch John_and_Yoko will become famous soon enough John_and_Yoko's Avatar

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    I have one thing to say about your comment about the huge gap between books for The Stand: I read that between Volumes II and III and when I got to III it was like I'd never left.

    As for your reading order, I don't know about having so much between the last three books and nothing between Volumes II and III. I prefer the idea of reading SOMETHING between each volume, but space it so that it would be as little as possible.

    For the most part I would want to either read them in chronological order and/or read stories with characters or events before later works that reference them (hence I don't like your idea of "foreshadowing"), in addition to which I don't know about your need to read them all RIGHT before the volumes where they become relevant.

    I would also read Insomnia BEFORE "Low Men in Yellow Coats", not after.

    If I had to choose, I'd do it like this:

    The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
    Insomnia
    The Eyes of the Dragon
    The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
    The Stand
    The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
    The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass

    "The Little Sisters of Eluria"
    "Low Men in Yellow Coats"
    'Salem's Lot
    The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
    Black House
    The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah

    "Everything's Eventual"
    The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower

    And that's if I didn't include the rest of Hearts in Atlantis or The Talisman, which I probably would.

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    Publication order.

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    shrewd and knavish sprite flaggwalkstheline will become famous soon enough flaggwalkstheline's Avatar

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    My reading order is slightly different

    The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (revised)
    The Eyes of the Dragon
    The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
    The Stand (the uncut version)
    The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
    The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
    The Little Sisters of Eluria
    Dark Tower 4.5 (when it comes out)
    Salem's Lot
    The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
    The Talisman
    Black House
    The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah
    Insomnia
    Everything's Eventual
    Low Men in Yellow Coats
    The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
    if the worlds gonna end then let's get it over with, i got shit to do

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    Servant of Gan Brainslinger will become famous soon enough Brainslinger's Avatar

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    I think you might be waiting for quite a while if you wait for DT 4.5! I think it will happen though. I get the impression it will be pretty much a stand-alone story though so could probably be read anywhere.

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    Gunslinger Apprentice Tik will become famous soon enough Tik's Avatar

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    If you're giving your friend the extra novels outside the series to read as well (a great idea if he's up to it) I'm not sure The Gunslinger should be the first book on the list. One of the reasons is a point you made about The Stand. Consider The Wastelands and Wizard and Glass. The cliffhanger ending would make you want to see the resolution straight away, not read a huge novel inbetween - it would be distracting and they probably wouldn't enjoy The Stand as much either because of it.

    As such, heres my proposed reading list:

    Eyes of the Dragon - It takes place in Mid-worlds past, sets up a fantasy setting, and introduces characters.

    The Talisman - up to you if you want to include it but it might be a good idea if Black House is on the list as it introduces those characters. It also flips between the real world and a fantasy world whilst giving the reader an idea of the many alternate worlds and realities that may exist.

    The Stand (uncut) - I've put this here because it protrays Flagg at a later point in life than Eyes. It, as pointed out before, is too big to be placed inbetween any DT novels yet should still be read for the events of Wizard and Glass.

    It - again, optional choice if your friend is up to it. This book introduces the Turtle, Derry, and has a cameo mention of the Rose and Beam. Sets up Insomnia in a way. It also offers a possible explaination for who Dandelo is (one of Its children perhaps?).

    The Gunslinger (revised) - the quest begins.

    Insomnia - has a cameo appearence of Roland in the desert and ties in neatly with The Gunslinger. Introduces the Crimson King more fully and explains the cosmic nature of reality.

    The Drawing of the Three - the quest continues.

    Salems Lot - I've placed this one a few books before we get to Wolves for one important reason. Wolves recaps this story pretty well whilst filling in gaps. Reading this recap so soon after the novel itself isn't a good idea as they may skip over it or at least ask themselves "I've just read this, why am I reading it again?"

    The Wastelands - the quest continues.

    Wizard and Glass - given the nature of the cliffhanger I dont think there should be a gap between this and Wastelands.

    Everythings Eventual/Little Sisters - I've lumped them both together as, well, they are in the same collection. Reading Little Sisters here will seem like another flashback ala Wizard and Glass.

    Black House - the true nature of the Crimson King is revealed and DT themes are explored more fully. In Wolves Eddie has a vision of these events via the rose. Is a sequal to The Talisman.

    Wolves of the Calla - the quest continues.

    Hearts in Atlantis - introduces characters and themes. Should read the entire novel, not just Low Men. Ted states that the gunslingers are in the borderland to End-world (ie the Callas) which would place this story here.

    Song of Susannah - the quest continues.

    The Dark Tower - the quest is complete.
    Basically I'm wondering exactly in Insomnia is contradicted by The Dark Tower. I know there's a prophecy about Patrick dying to save two men or something that doesn't come true, but I wouldn't really consider a prophecy not coming true to be a deal-breaking continuity error. And supposedly the Crimson King is trapped in the wrong part of the Tower, but do we physically see him at the top of the Tower in Insomnia or is it more like a dream or metaphor or secondhand info?
    Nah, Insomnia doesn't contridict The Dark Tower. Whoever wrote that on wikipedia is just expressing their own opinion, not fact. Firstly the prophecy states Patrick dies after he saves two men, not while he saves two men. Its stated only one of those men is important to the story of the Tower and nowhere does it say he saves the two men at the same time. Bare in mind the fickle nature of prophecy eg Mordreds prophecy.

    Secondly, Black House explains the nature of the Crimson King and states how he is in two places at once ie the top of the Tower and the Red Kings castle (later the balcony). So theres no contridiction here either, its simply a fact Roland and his ka-tet aren't aware of. In Insomnia we dont actually see him at the top of the Tower, its just protrayed in a picture Patrick draws - its Black House that confirms it but, like I've said, it also explains how hes somewhere else at the same time.

    Wolves of the Calla also protrays the Red King at the top of the Tower too in a time frame where his other incarnation is still in his castle in End-world so this confirms Black House's info.

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    Servant of Gan Brainslinger will become famous soon enough Brainslinger's Avatar

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    nsomnia doesn't contridict The Dark Tower. Whoever wrote that on wikipedia is just expressing their own opinion, not fact. Firstly the prophecy states Patrick dies after he saves two men, not while he saves two men. Its stated only one of those men is important to the story of the Tower and nowhere does it say he saves the two men at the same time.
    That's a good point! Also, if I remember the prophesy of Insomnia correctly
    Spoiler:
    it was one of the little doctors (that is the little dwarf guys who cut cords, not the bugs of Little Sisters!) who mentions the prophesy. Considering the fact it is suggested that they might be sexless beings (either neither male nor female.. or possibly a bit of both) that might explain why it was actually a man and woman who were saved rather than two men. I.e. to them, there might not be much of a difference. Also we no that for all their knowledge their not infallible and they don't see everything clearly. Or, Patrick is yet to save the second man. Or maybe two men actually arrive at the Tower in a different cycle....


    I'm sure the real world reason is that King had a different idea how things would happen initially, but I think that explanation makes some sense from an 'in-world' perspective.

    I did feel there was a bit of a contradiction concerning the description of the Crimson King but only in detail (i.e the location of the Crimson King in the tower) which again could be put down to the human filter. I'd say the same for Black House, to some extent,
    Spoiler:
    although I think the dual nature of the king there could simply be a temporal anomaly. I.e. CK appears to be in two places because his future self is trapped in the linchpin of space and time so arguably could appear there before he arrived... and simultaneously in his castle. Someone like Parkus and Sophie might see this and misunderstand what is happening. Just my theory though... (confusing innit?) and I'm not convinced of it either.


    I don't believe there is an incarnation of The Crimson King in the top room. I think the reason King changed his mind about that because the top room is the place of god-head and Los the Red, for all his power, is no god. Except in the sense some people worship him. Besides, if Los had attained the top room, he might have just been sent back to a back period of his life like Roland was. I don't think the Tower would allow him to do that as The Crimson King is beyond redemption.

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    Dude, why don't you just read Insomnia for yourself?

    Personally, I read around 200 books after DTIII, finished school, got married, travelled to other countries and back, changed religions a few times, and then read DTIV, when it was finally published... yet here I am, still posting.

    I totally agree it's silly to read 'Salem's Lot right before Wolves, and I see no sense at all in the suggestion to place Insomina back before DTII.

    If there must be a general rule, I still say: publication order.

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    Gunslinger Apprentice Tik will become famous soon enough Tik's Avatar

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    Spoiler:
    it was one of the little doctors (that is the little dwarf guys who cut cords, not the bugs of Little Sisters!) who mentions the prophesy. Considering the fact it is suggested that they might be sexless beings (either neither male nor female.. or possibly a bit of both) that might explain why it was actually a man and woman who were saved rather than two men. I.e. to them, there might not be much of a difference. Also we no that for all their knowledge their not infallible and they don't see everything clearly. Or, Patrick is yet to save the second man. Or maybe two men actually arrive at the Tower in a different cycle....
    I agree with your suggestion of Patrick....

    Spoiler:
    saving the other man at a later date. I always felt that Patrick saved Roland, then DT7 ended, then he went away to paint the pictures that are found in Sayres office, then he saved the other man and died. All within a year of DT7's end due to the fact the prophesy is measured in years (Patrick dies in the eighteenth year after Insomnia).

    I don't believe there is an incarnation of The Crimson King in the top room. I think the reason King changed his mind about that because the top room is the place of god-head and Los the Red, for all his power, is no god. Except in the sense some people worship him. Besides, if Los had attained the top room, he might have just been sent back to a back period of his life like Roland was. I don't think the Tower would allow him to do that as The Crimson King is beyond redemption.
    Oh, I dont think the Red King is in the top room.....I dont think any source states this. They just say he's imprisioned at the top of the Tower, somewhere in the top section of the Tower which gives us a fair few levels to play with (eg a room/level below the very last room where God is supposed to be). Its used in the same way that the incarnation of the Red King in DT7 could be said to be trapped at the bottom of the Tower even though he's not in the very first room/level.

  10. #10
    The White Guy Chap is on a distinguished road Chap's Avatar

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    Call me old fashioned or dumb (both would be correct), but my reading is, and will always be:
    The Gunslinger
    The Drawing of the Three
    The Waste Lands
    Wizard and Glass
    Wolves of the Calla
    Song of Susannah
    The Dark Tower

    Anything else comes in between readings of the whole story. IMO TDT is the story and functions perfectly without the other books. Reading the connected stories is a bonus, a dessert to be enjoyed after the main dish.
    Some are born to sweet delight,

    some are born to the endless night.

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    Servant of Gan Brainslinger will become famous soon enough Brainslinger's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tik View Post
    Oh, I dont think the Red King is in the top room.....I dont think any source states this. They just say he's imprisioned at the top of the Tower, somewhere in the top section of the Tower which gives us a fair few levels to play with (eg a room/level below the very last room where God is supposed to be). Its used in the same way that the incarnation of the Red King in DT7 could be said to be trapped at the bottom of the Tower even though he's not in the very first room/level.

    Fair enough, that makes sense.

    On looking at your quotes I just noticed some dreadful typos in my post. I wrote 'no' when I meant 'know' and 'their' where I meant 'they're'. How embarrassing.

  12. #12
    Traveler binaural is on a distinguished road

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    I have been reading the Dark Tower for about 1 year now, didnt think it would take this long but my order has been:

    1. The Gunslinger
    -. Eyes of the Dragon
    2. Drawing of the three
    3. Wastelands
    -. The Stand
    4. Wizard and Glass
    -. Little Sisters of Eluria
    -. Salems Lot
    5. Wolves of the Calla
    -. Hearts in Atlantis
    -. The Talisman
    6. Song of Susannah (was going to read this back to back with book 7 but was starting to miss the Ka-Tet so had to read this here)
    -. Insomnia
    -. Everythings eventual
    -. Black House
    7. Dark Tower


    The gaps are not really a problem, as the events or each book are quite memorable and its easy to get back into the flow of the story. However it took me quite sometime to read The Stand and The Talisman, both great books but I was eager to get back to Roland and co.

    My plan is to read several other Stephen King books which have small connection with the DT while I wait untill the comics are done then read them in order followed by the main Dark Tower novel series again.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chap View Post
    Call me old fashioned or dumb (both would be correct), but my reading is, and will always be:
    The Gunslinger
    The Drawing of the Three
    The Waste Lands
    Wizard and Glass
    Wolves of the Calla
    Song of Susannah
    The Dark Tower

    Anything else comes in between readings of the whole story. IMO TDT is the story and functions perfectly without the other books. Reading the connected stories is a bonus, a dessert to be enjoyed after the main dish.
    I totally agree!! Read the seven DT novels all at once as they are really one long story.

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    they totally are

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    I'm with you, guys, too.
    The 7 novels are best read as one uninterrupted story, IMO.
    Iron Maiden be my witness

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    And reminiscing..."

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