And well met....
by thefinn

“The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”

Such a simple line, a great hook, and the beginning of a book about one of my favorite literary characters. There’s magic in that line. And that’s where we’re going this morning. Magic. That ethereal thing that pulls you into a book and makes it one of your favorites. And the characters who take you along for the ride. gunslinger.jpg

Roland Deschain is the gunslinger. He’s the prototypical knight errant reborn as Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”. Instead of a sword and a shield, he carries two worn six guns with sandalwood grips. He walks damn near everywhere, leaving a trail of bodies behind. He is the last remaining form of Justice in his world. And I don’t mean “six gun justice” or some such crap. He’s a man of honor, a diplomat, and when need be, an executioner. He’s far from perfect. His original band, called a ka-tet, have all been killed during his journeys. He sees most people as a means to an end, as opposed to friends or confidants. He has no qualms about killing women and children in the name of Justice. And he’s kind of a dick. But as bad as he is, there’s always something worse around the bend.

He’s also the last of his kind. The gunslingers of his world were wiped out due to the machinations of the Man in Black. Only he and his group remained and when the gunslingers went away, Roland’s world “moved on”. Justice and Order were relegated to the backseat, while Chaos took the wheel and floored the motherfucker. Cities and civilizations crumbled, mutants pillaged and ran rampant and time stopped working the way it should. But none of that mattered to him. The only thing that mattered was The Tower. maninblack.jpg

The Tower exists as the nexus of all possible worlds. And it said that if one reaches it, he might be able to enter. And if one does enter, and is of quick wit, he may survive the long journey to the top of The Tower. And from there he may speak to the Gods. What Roland wants to ask them, we’re not exactly sure. But I was damned if I would put the book down until I found out.

I was instantly drawn to the character, if for no other reason than I’m a sucker for the loner types who don’t know when to say die. A half dead antihero walking through the desert, chasing the man who killed his world. There’s so much richness and detail in this almost dead place. And the book becomes not just a story about a man looking for another man, but about the journey itself. The places and people he encounters, the obstacles he must overcome on his long journey and the multitude of things that attempt to do him in. It all came alive in my mind. And it’s something I still reread every year or so.

So, how about you ? What characters can you just not let go of ? When was the last time you got fully sucked into a book and didn’t let go until you were done ?


Can't let go of ...


Last book sucked into ... Marvel's Marvels I just read the other day. Fantastic comics.


Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman is such a story. I got very hung up on the characters of both Death and Sexton, but I had been hung up on Death herself before this book.

I haven't read in a while, sad to say. I used to read a book a week. The last book I got really hung up on was Gaiman's Anansi Boys.


Readers Digest

I love Cartoon Capers


Cullen - I loved Marvels, although it's been years since I reread them. Alex Ross's artwork was amazing and Kurt Busiek's writing was top notch.

Michele - Neil Gaiman makes me mad. No one should write so well about the Old Gods so consistently. I'm sure he sold his soul to the devil and I'm pissed I didn't think of it first....

Turtle - You rule....


Question: Is this the same character, Randall Flagg, from The Stand, or just simelar? Just wondering...

One of my all time fav characters is Ender Wiggins from 'Ender's Game', by Orson Scott Card.

Recent favorite has been the character, 'Horatio Hornblower' in the series by C.S. Forester...


Randall Flagg was a great character, now that you mention him. And from the Stand, I also love Trash Can Man.

Ender was pretty cool, too.


Smoky Barnable from Crowley's Little, Big.

And now, I'm off to by the first book in the Dark Tower series. I've been told to read it too many times, and your article really drew me in. Great job finn.


good one, kid. i find it hard to narrow down the one book that sucked me in totally, same thing with a single character. so , you know...i'll give you a couple. (or three...)

ignatius j. reilly, protagonist of a confederacy of dunces. actually, it might be a bit more accurate to call him the antagonist as he's just an asshole. offensive, pretentious, and a self-proclaimed genius, he strolls the entirety of the book absolutely chewing the scenery. he's a brilliant character, but if i knew someone like him in real life, i'd probably punch him. o, fortuna, indeed.

shadow from american gods. i can read this book twice a year for the rest of my life, and still find new bits in it. i love shadow. i love the simplicity of the character that hides just how fucking complicated he, and his role in everything, really is.

rob fleming out of high fidelity. he is me, i am he, etc...well, except that i'm not a british dude. same obsessive musical proclivities, however. he knows the secret to living, yet not living, and it is top five lists. genius, man...genius.


I loved the Trash Can Man... A simple man who only wants to please his master and watch things burn.... I need a minion like that....

I fully understand your love for Rob Fleming... He may be the perfect man, or as perfect as a man can get.....

As for Randall Flagg, Ernie... Read the books... That character is so complex and mesmerizing. It proves to me that King, when he wants to be, can be a fucking genius....


That always seemed like a good story to me, but the marketing strategy of breaking a single book into something like 20 and selling each individually bugged me so much that I never bought it...


I usually have a problem with serialized books. They usually never hold my attention after the first two or three in a series. This one, however, completely pulled me in.... I was ravenous for the next installment. And there's so much story here, it'd be hard to condense it. Half of the books run over 700 pages.


I read Hubbard's mega-fucking waste-of-time, 11-book Mission Earth series. I have been pissed off about serialized books ever since. I don't mind a series like Harry Potter or something. Something that tells a complete story, but, like Kory said, one fucking book broken down into many parts, like Hubaman's pisses me off.

I somehow survived w/out becoming a $cientologist also.


Neil Gaiman is a master. I love Death, the girl from the comics. Perfect.

"Nancy" in Anansi Boys is great too.

Shadow in American Gods: well, he had troubles. He went through life working his best and still got troubles. that bothered me. But, I still loved the book.


The last character that drew me into their world was Rakkim in "Prayers for the Assassin" by Robert Ferrigno.

I'll read a travel brochure by David Weber if it's got treecats or anything else from the "Honor-verse." One of the richest series out there. The charactaers have grown over the past 12 years since I picked up the first one.

The web site's pretty cool too.

I tried reading Eric Van Lustbader's "Pearl" series but I'm tired of Sci Fi where you have to learn a new freaking language to understand what's going on.

I love King but never got into The Tower series. Since I tend to mostly agree with the folks here, I may have to pick them up.

Of course, there are authors we just read when their new books come out, but those are more like brain candy than real food.

Smart cops going after smart crooks type stuff.

I used to read everything by Grishom until I'd figured out the final twist of one of his books in the first chapter and it pissed me off.

Read the first two Ann Rice Vampire books and lost all interest in blood-suckers for years until Blade and Underworld sucked me back.



Harry Keogh from the Brian Lumley "Necroscope" books.


People mention Neil Gaiman, but no one talks about Terry Pratchett. Unreal.

I won't pick out a character from the Discworld, They're all good. But, for Anti-Heros with a sense of Honor, you can't beat the Patrician.

Lord Vetrinari fuctions as the Patrician, the Supreme Ruler of Ankh-Morpork, The largest city of the Discworld. Theoretically, as a despot, Vetrinari can do as he likes.

But, the citizens of Ankh-Morpork have a certain "Sod You" attitude. And, although they've endured insane and vicious Patricians in the past, the holders of the office got assassinated like clockwork. As a former graduate of the School of Assassins, Vetrinari even did a few himself.

Then, Vetrinari got the Job and began running the city in a certain unique way.

For example, he legalized the Thieves Guild and let them start selling policies to citizens. Buy a six-month policy and no member of the Thieves Guild can steal from you. Buy a policy for a whole year, and you get a home barbeque set as well.

Within a short time, the streets were, if not safe, a lot safer and all non-union thieves were told to join or else.

Similar events ensured that, even though people might hate Vetrinari, they'd hate not having him around even worse.

Except for the mimes. One of Vetrinari's more unusual quirks is that he banned all street theatre. Anyone caught Miming in Ankh-Morpork is hung upside down in a scorpion pit with a huge sign that says: "LEARN THE WORDS".

Gotta love a man like that.


King IS a geneus. I am re-reading this series now, on book three.


Who the hell said that the "Dark Tower" collection was a serial? Dickens did serials and King did too with the "Green Mile" serial, but "Tower" ain't a serial. It's a life's work, from what I've read and heard KinGenius say. I think he began it when he was in college. And you're right, Finn, the opening line is bare-bones yet maelstromic. My favorite literary character is John Smith, "The Dead Zone." Poor guy. He's the King equivalent of the Cassandra Complex...but sometimes he *can* change future events. (By the way, Walken tore the shit out of that role, as he is wont to do.)


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