The Guardians of the Beam
are fictional characters in author Stephen Kingís The Dark Tower
series. Tasked with watching over the Beamís termination points, there is speculation as to whether the Guardians were natural or man-made.
There are six Beams that cross the Dark Tower, and two Guardians for each Beam. During Rolandís youth, most people believed the Beams and their Guardians occurred naturally. When Roland was a young boy, however, Hax the cook told him that he believed that the Tower, Beams, and Guardians were man-made, the work of the Great Old Ones. This would explain why Gileadís children were told that each Guardian had a thinking cap on its head that contained a second brain. This story was based on the fact that all the Guardians manufactured by North Central Positronics had radar dishes coming out of their skulls.
At one point in history the Guardians were revered. They were depicted outside the mercantile in Hambry as well as on the roof of the Cradle of Lud. Many Mid-World sayings mention the Guardians as well, such as, ďBird and Bear and Hare and Fish, give my love her fondest wish.Ē
Gan originally chose these particular 12 animals as his guardians because they were his "most loyal servants". He put them in place to guard the 12 main doorways after Maerlyn's mirror had shattered and its shards had blown through into all other worlds, to prevent such a thing from happening again.
In the final book of the Dark Tower series, it is revealed the Tower, Beams, and Guardians are both magical and mechanical. When Gan rose from the Prim, he spun the Beams and the multiple worlds they bind together. Once these worlds were formed, the Prime receded, but left the Tower, the Beams, and the Guardians behind.
The Great Old Ones mourned the Primís passing, and although the Tower and the Beams held enough magic to last for eternity, they used their knowledge of technology to remake the macroverseís supporting structures, and to create doorways into and out of as many wheres and whens as possible. The results of the Great Old Onesí creations were a disaster. The Beams were fated to become unstable, and the doorways they created were used by the followers of the Crimson King. Worst of all, the manufactured Guardians were fated to malfunction and go mad. A prime example of this is Shardik, the Bear Guardian, who fell ill and slowly went insane.
By the time the ka-tet reaches the Devar-Toi in the final book of the Dark Tower series, the Beams guarded by the Rat and Fish, Bat and Hare, Eagle and Lion, and Dog and Horse have already collapsed. The most recent is the Eagle-Lion Beam, which resulted in the Beamquake the ka-tet experienced in Calla Bryn Sturgis. Only two Beams remain: the Bear-Turtle Beam, which is the Beam the ka-tet is following, and the Elephant-Wolf Beam, also known as Ganís Beam.
Probably the most well-known Guardian is the Turtle, Maturin. According to Mid-World legend, Gan bore the world and moved on, but had Maturin not been there to catch it on his back as it fell, it may well have fallen into the abyss. Unlike Shardik, Maturin does not seem to be going mad; he seems, in fact, to be trying to help the ka-tet in their search for the Tower.
Original artwork by Heather19
David, Peter, & Furth, Robin. The Gunslinger Born #5. Marvel Comics, August 2007.
Furth, Robin. Stephen Kingís The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance. Scribner, 2006. ISBN 0743297342