The Dark Tower Bk VII: The Abyss of Bad Endings

The Dark Tower - Stephen King

The quest for the Dark Tower is ending!


All the weary miles, endless deaths, heroic stands, and lost loved ones is finally coming to an end for Roland Deschain of Gilead and his ka-tet. 


And the weary but dedicated fan can finally savor that ending.  An ending that will somehow, someway tie up all the loose plots and cause all their frustration about the years between novels, the endless lore changes, the confusing multiverse, and even Stephen King writing himself into the story to disappear from their minds.


For the end of the Dark Tower Saga will be a wonderful, dramatic, earth-shattering ending.  The same kind of ending Tolkien provided fantasy fans with in The Return of the King, where a reader watched breathlessly as Frodo and Sam slunk across the desolate plains of Mordor, striving to reach Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring; only to discover to their sheer wonder and delight that the tale was still not done, but that Tolkien would allow them to follow along behind the hobbits for just a little longer - until the true ending at the Grey Havens. 


That is the type of finale The Dark Tower must have, because every reader of King’s saga knows that a tale as massive and epic as this deserves that Lord of the Rings type of closure.  The kind of ending where a reader closes the novel and sits there, stunned into silent contemplation at the stupendous journey that they have finally COMPLETED!


And as a reader begins The Dark Tower Book VII, he/she will begin to see his/her deeply held hope coming to fruition as dangling plots begin to be completed.  Immediately, Roland and his friends set forth to stop the Breakers of Algul Siento and save the Beam, protect the Rose (whatever it really is) in New York, and stop Stephen King from being run down by a real life automobile and killed.  Everything begins to take shape for the final push to the Dark Tower.


So it seems obvious that finally Stephen King is going to reveal the "5 Ws and H" of the grand saga.  Who the hell is this Crimson King, who has orchestrated the destruction of world after world in the multiverse, and who the hell is Marten Broadcloak/Randall Flagg really?  What caused the Crimson King to go insane and begin to attack the Tower?  Why was it so damn important for Roland to get to the tower in the first place?  How did Roland’s quest kept the Dark Tower multiverse from continuing to move on?   When did the old ones die out and leave their machines, or when did the worlds first start moving on?   And finally - after all else has been completed - where is the Dark Tower, and what will happen when Roland finally enters it?


But then something unprecedented happens in this grand finale of a sweeping epic.




That is right.  You won’t find any of those questions answered.  In fact, you won’t even find a dramatic ending like Lord of the Rings. 


Nope.  It is not going to happen.


As Stephen King himself writes at the end of the Quest for the Dark Tower:


I’ve told my tale all the way to the end, and am satisfied.  It was (I set my watch and warrant on it) the kind only a good God would save for last, full of monsters and marvels and voyaging here and there.  I can stop now, put my pen down, and rest my weary hand . . . Yet some of you who have provided the ears without which no tale can survive a single day are likely not so willing.  You are the grim, goal-oriented ones who will not believe that the joy is in the journey rather than the destination no matter how many times it has been proven o you.  You are the unfortunate ones who still get the lovemaking all confused with the paltry squirt that comes to end the lovemaking . . . You are the cruel ones who deny the Grey Havens, where tired characters go to rest.  You say you want to know how it all comes out.  You say you want to follow Roland into the Tower; you say that is what you paid your money for, the show you came to see.

I hope most of you know better.  Want better.  I hope you came to hear the tale, and not just munch your way through the pages to the ending.  For an ending, you only have to turn to the last page and see what is there writ upon.  But endings are heartless.  An ending is a closed door no man (or Manni) can open.  I’ve written many, but most only for the same reason that I pull on my pants in the morning before leaving the bedroom - because it is the custom of the country.


And so, my dear Constant Reader, I tell you this: You can stop here. . .


Should you go on, you will surely be disappointed, perhaps even heartbroken . . . There is no such thing as a happy ending.  I never met a single one to equal "Once upon a time."


Endings are heartless.


Ending is just another word for goodbye.


And so after reading 4500 pages about Roland the Gunslinger, a reader is given a choice: stop the book without knowing what happens to Roland once he actually gets to the Dark Tower or read the ending and be disappointed.


Who knew Stephen King was writing a Choose Your Own Adventure Book?


Or that he was an attorney, because he just put a disclaimer in his book; a disclaimer that basically admits the ending sucks. 


But in any event, it doesn’t matter which "ending" a reader picks, because they both are horrid in different ways.  One is the hollywood "And they all live happily ever after ending," and the other is the "You wanted an ending, I’ll show you how clever I can be while I’m not giving you what you asked for" ending.  And they both leave a reader wondering "Why did I read this series again?"


The awful truth about The Dark Tower Book VII is that it is a dud. 


A clever nothing happens. 


A Dallas "Get out of the shower it’s all been a dream."  


Another Matrix sequel were our number today boys and girls is 101, and you are the sixth Chosen One, which means your dramatic victories are not anything new.


Not a "flawed masterpiece" at all but a cleverly disguised fake.


A huge belly flop into the abyss of bad endings. 


A book that just stinks. 


In fact, this "supposed" finale of the Dark Tower series makes such a mess of the story that Roland’s whole quest is rendered meaningless.  A useless exercise in futility that is very similar to a hamster running as fast as he can on his exercise wheel.


What King does to Roland in this novel is like Tolkien writing that Frodo reached Mount Doom only to discover that Sauron is really Father Christmas on psychotropic medications; the One Ring Frodo has been carrying is really a fake that Sauron allowed Gandalf and the Elves to believe was the real thing; and now - just to be a vindictive bastard (because there doesn’t seem to be any other logical reason) - Frodo and the Fellowship gets to relive the whole bloody quest in an endless loop.


Maybe King never knew where Roland’s story was going.  Maybe it was just a great idea, which he never really plotted out to guarantee that it ended correctly.  I get all that, but if that is true, he should have used this last book to fix all those problems, not tell the reader "I hope you came to hear the tale, and not just munch your way through the pages to the ending." 


Who the hell has ever went to a movie and been pleased when it stopped playing before the ending?


Or worked all week just to be told "No pay check for you.  Try to think back to all the fun you had here?"


No one.  And no one is going to like this ending.  You might love the series or the characters and not want to admit how horrid this last book was, but deep down you realize it.  And you cope by telling yourself how great the overall story was or that King focused on Roland’s spiritual journey in this book or whatever, but the fact of the matter is this novel continued the downward spiral of Roland’s story and left all of us scratching our heads thinking "Really, this is the end."


Mr. King, I’ve read epic, fantasy series.


I’ve read grand finales with breathtaking endings. 


J.R.R. Tolkien took me to the Grey Havens once upon a time.


Mr. King, you’re no J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Dark Tower was not The Return of the King.