In September, I suggested a reading order for the extended universe of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, a series I loved, but hadn't read any of since Volume 7: The Dark Tower came out in 2004. I realized that I missed the characters from the series, and wondered if the reading order I suggested would really hold someone's interest all the way through. I scoured some local bookstores, and then the internet for the hardcovers of the books, and prepared for my quest to read a Super Long series of books.
When I created the chronology, I placed The Gunslinger as part 5, with "The Little Sisters Of Eluria" as part 6, a flashback. But, upon reading both of them, I think Little Sisters Of Eluria" is a better introduction to Roland. So, here we are, part 5, and it's time to meet to meet our protagonist.
During my writing about The Stand, and coming back when I talk about The Gunslinger (I read it in my originally intended order, and started to write about it before composing this entry), I mention that I don't enjoy Stephen King's relationship to religion, particularly Christianity. It's usually exhausting, as he over-examines the importance of that particular Childrens' Book Club For Frightened Bigots.
And yet, "The Little Sisters Of Eluria" (from his short story collection, Everything's Eventual) is, at its heart, a story about using the symbolism of Christianity to overcome evil. And I like it. I don't love it. But I like it more than Mother Abigail's role in The Stand.
Like most of The Gunslinger, this is a Western motif with just a tinge of fantasy. Gunslinger finds a ghost town, but it's not as it seems. It's the premise of a thousand movies that my father watches on cable. It's also mercifully brief at sixty-six pages (throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder and show the sigul of the evil eye).
Because it's short, and because I never intend to give plot recaps or spoilers, I'll simply say that this is a better introduction to Roland than The Gunslinger, not because it's better written, but because it's significantly briefer, and I think it's important to get a glimpse of Roland now before we take another, also very brief, detour to see how The Dark Tower interacts with our world.
--I enjoy that many of the allusions in this story read as foreshadowing in this continuity, though they were written as fan service, since this book came out between Wizard And Glass and Wolves Of Calla.
--The brevity of this story seems so necessary after the previous two books. Enjoy it. While I don't think any of the other books are as long as The Stand, they're not short stories, either.
--This tiny morsel brings our Total Page Count on this journey to 1,586. A breeze!