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The Dark Tower is the seventh and final book of novelist Stephen King's Dark Tower series], published on September 21st, 2004 (the date of King's birthday) by Donald M. Grant Publishers, and illustrated by Michael Whelan. Fans worldwide, concerned that King would never finish the series, especially after the author was nearly killed in 1999, breathed a collective sigh of relief at the long awaited completion of the epic story that took King more than thirty years to write.


Beginning where book six left off, Jake and Father Callahan battle the evil infestation within the Dixie Pig, a vampire lounge featuring roasted human flesh and doors to other worlds; Callahan sacrifices himself so Jake can survive. Mia, her body now physically separated from Susannah, gives birth to Mordred Deschain, the biological son of Roland and Susannah. The Crimson King is also a "co-father" of this prophetic child, so it is not surprising when "baby" Mordred's first act is to shapeshift into a spider-creature and feast on his birth-mother. Susannah injures Mordred by shooting off one of the spider legs but fails to kill him. She eliminates other agents of the Crimson King, enabling her to escape and meet up with Jake. Aging at an accelerated rate, Mordred later stalks Roland and the other gunslingers throughout this adventure, shifting from human to spider as the need arises, seething with an instinctive rage toward Roland, his "white father".

Roland and Eddie make their way back from Maine to Fedic, where the ka-tet, now reunited, must stop a group known as Breakers, who continue to use their telepathic abilities to break away at the beams that support the Tower. If the Tower falls, the Crimson King believes he will rule the ensuing chaos in Todash. Similarly, Walter (a.k.a. Randall Flagg) has dreams of grandeur in which he plans to slay Mordred, using the birthmark on Mordred's heel to gain access to the Tower, but baby Mordred kills and eats him instead. The Gunslingers free the Breakers from their captors, but Eddie is mortally wounded in the battle and dies a short while later. Roland and Jake pause to mourn and then jump back to Maine aliong with Oy in order to save the life of Stephen King (who is a secondary character in the book). Jake pushes King out of the way of a speeding van in 1999, but is killed in the process. Roland, heartbroken, buries Jake and returns to Susannah in Fedic, where they depart and travel for weeks across the freezing badlands toward the Tower.

On the way they find Patrick Danville, a young man imprisoned by a someone who calls himself Joe Collins but is really a psychic vampire. Patrick is freed and soon his special talent becomes evident: his drawings and paintings have the strange tendency to become reality. He draws a magic door for Susannah; once it appears, she says goodbye to Roland and crosses over to a New York similar to her own, where different versions of Eddie and Jake are waiting for her. Mordred, who easily manipulated and killed Walter, finally reaches and attacks Roland. Oy viciously defends his dinh, providing the extra seconds needed to exterminate the were-spider. Unfortunately, Oy is impaled on a tree and dies. Roland continues on to his ultimate goal and uses Patrick's special abilities to defeat the Crimson King, gaining entry into the Tower. The last scene is that of Roland crying out the names of his loved ones and fallen comrades as he had vowed to do. The door of the dark tower closes shut as Patrick watches from a distance. Here the story ends... almost.

In the afterword, Stephen King warns readers to close the book at this point -- not to venture inside the Tower with Roland. If the reader does not heed the warning, the story resumes with Roland climbing to the top of the Dark Tower. He encounters various rooms with siguls or signs of his his past life. He reaches the top and opens the final door, to his horror, he realizes he has reached the Tower countless times before. He is sucked through the door only to be teleported back in time to the desert, ending the series where it began in the first line of book one: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." There is a slight twist, however; the memory of reaching the Tower quickly fades, yet Roland now somehow possesses the horn he had foolishly lost long ago during the battle of Jericho Hill. This subtle but significant change from the previous timeline further enforces the implication that Roland still has the opportunity to make different decisions and possibly break the cycle and find salvation.


The novel came under heavy criticism by fans who felt let down by the ending. Stephen King himself admitted in the Afterward that he "wasn’t exactly crazy about the ending, either, if you want to know the truth." Charges against the ending included the fact that the Dark Tower did not contain what Walter originally promised at the end of the first book of the series, The Gunslinger. Walter made reference to Merlin, The Beast and the Godhead, none of which appeared. King, in acknowledgement of this, went so far as to republish The Gunslinger without these references and making Walter himself the character Maerlyn. Other complaints by fans included disappointment that the end of the novel was a timeloop, returning to the beginning of the series.

Other books in the collection

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