Should I read more King before finishing Dark Tower?

Sometimes I think living in Maine and reading King is like living in NY and going to the Empire State building - you feel kind of silly doing it, because it’s been staring you right in the face the whole time. This becomes more surreal when I’m reading it overtly at school, because he went to my school. But that can’t stop me now, because Dark Tower is just too good.

Over the last month and a half or so I’ve gone through book five of the Dark Tower Series. Luckily, I’ve read The Stand which is what it seems to tie into the most (so far), and I’ve at least seen Salem’s Lot. But as I’m progressing through, it seems like the series is crossing over more and more into Stephen King’s career. I’ve read The Stand and Hearts in Atlantis and that’s it, other than a couple of movie adaptations. Oh, and I’ve watched the first season of the Dead Zone tv series.

My question is, how much better will finishing the series be for me if I visit some of his other books first? I’m in no rush to finish, as then there will be no more to read, and I’ve really enjoyed the series so far. I know there are a lot of tie-ins, but how many of them are more than a cameo to make fans go “OMG I READ THAT”? Dark Tower is supposed to be his “magnum opus” and that makes me expect a lot of crossovers that - should I read more of his stuff - will blow my mind at the end. How accurate is that?


In my opinion, King went to hell after It. His early books are fun because he literally runs through the gamut of horror staples - Salem’s Lot / vampires, haunted house / The Shining, apocalypse / The Stand, zombies / Pet Semetary, etc. etc. - putting a little modern-day spin on each. After It, which is a terrible, terrible book, his stuff becomes interminably longwinded. Half of the reasons his early books work so well is that they’re blessedly short.

Keep in mind that I’ve never been able to finish even one book of the Dark Tower, so your mileage may vary.

The Eyes of the Dragon shares a character with The Dark Tower series as well.

This reminds me, my manager was telling me that there’s going to be a Dark Tower comic book series starting soon chronicling Roland’s earlier days (assuming between Book 4 and Book 1).

Insomnia and Black House are pretty much essential reading for Dark Tower as well.

Please set the crappy novel down and step away from the reading desk.

As a fellow Yankee (well, born and raised in Maine), I recommend just getting through the last two books now and moving on. There are some more tie-ins, but you can just as easily follow up on them after the Dark Tower if you are interested (but I wager you won’t be). Book 7 wasn’t THAT bad, but book 6 (along with book 5) felt so rushed that I was really let down. It seemed that King wanted to go from his Magnum Opus (first 4 books) to Fuck the Fans I Just Want To Be Free Of Their Incessant Whining (final 3 books).

There are lots of references to other King books, but without exception they are completely irrelevant to the overall story and you miss nothing by not having read those other books.

Insomnia was a good book and all but the way it tied into the Dark Tower was just disgraceful.

I liked all of 'em and would suggest reading everything by him before you finish up DT. I mean, dont stop and just read his other stuff, then DT. Go ahead and read the other stuff concurrently with DT.

I liked It (at least the first 3/4).

Once you start getting into the Tommyknockers, you can tell when the drugs really took hold of him.

I haven’t really been thrilled with much he’s written lately. I couldn’t get through Buick 8. Bag of Bones was “meh” and I haven’t gotten out of the first chapter of Lisey’s story.

Books 5 and 6 are rough, but the last book ties it all together nicely, I thought.

You should read Talisman and Black House, and Insomnia. That should cover you for the biggest crossover junk.


See I loved Buick 8, Bag of Bones was ‘ok’ and the girl who loved tom gordon was just awesome. I loved cell as well, despite it being so ridiculous, but then, I really like zombies.

I’ve been intermittently interested in reading the Dark Tower series for a while myself. I’ve read plenty of King’s early stuff but ever since I picked up Needful Things and thought it was terrible I’ve never read a word from him. Would it be okay to read The Dark Tower if I have no interest whatsoever in his latter stuff? Or should I just give the whole thing a pass?

I’m probably the wrong person to ask, since I don’t like almost any post-Shining King (I don’t even like The Stand–I could never get past the first 100 or so pages), but so far I’m enjoying the Dark Tower without reading any of them (I’ve finished book 4),

The Dark Tower series is sufficiently self contained. None of the other tie-ins are necessary. They’re just little links that are there for the fans and for King to have fun with. Hearts in Atlantis (specifically the novella Low Men in Yellow Coats in that collection) and Black House are probably the most significant ones where events that happen in those books affect what happens in the main DT narrative, but even those can be skipped.

If you want to read other King books I’d do it because you like King’s stuff. And then I’d recommend you start with Carrie and just work your way forward. His earlier stuff is, almost without exception, better than his later. If I were to recommend 5 books outside of the DT series, they would be The Stand, The Shining, It, 'Salem’s Lot, and Different Seasons. I’ve only read about 3/4 of his books to date, though, so there may be others that could be worthwhile, too (I hear good things about Pet Cemetary, for example).

I’m reading The Stand right now and I can assure you, its not short. My first King novel. Seems pretty decent, I got it for a dollar. I can see reading more of him.

I would heartily recommend reading more Stephen King. Whilst he may not be high literature, and some of his later books are clearly a product of him being able to publish his shopping list and get million dollar sales, he does have a gift for character and is good at what he does.

Even the ones that sound like they should be really dumb - Christine springs straight to mind - actually work pretty well.

Later books like Cell and Dreamcatcher tend to fall flat at the end, but most do have enough to them that they are well worth a read.

The Stand, The Shining, Pet Sematary, Salem’s Lot particularly stand out. I also love The Long Walk, written as Richard Bachman (most of those were pretty good as it goes).

Anyway, you may as well - free from a library and you can always just take them back if you don’t like them.

The Long Walk is absolutely bad ass and I doubt will ever be made into a movie or teleplay (makes for good practice adapting a script though).

— Alan

The series is called “The Gunslinger Born”, and the first issue comes out this week.

It could be done though. I mean, it practically already is!

You’ve started near the top. I’d say my favorites were The Stand, The Talisman (I was the same age as the protagonist, so that had a lot to do with it) and the Dark Tower series. I’ve read nearly all of his other books, and with a few notable exceptions, they’re all pretty good. Ones to avoid:

The Tommyknockers
. . . folks feel free to add to this, it’s too early for good recall skills.