Watched the Dark Tower movie and now you’re wanting to read the books and are wondering about the best Dark Tower reading order?
I’m here to help.
The Dark Tower series is a journey in search of the eponymous tower. The quest often takes on both physical and metaphorical forms, with its nature depending upon which aspect of Stephen King’s multifaceted work it represents at any given time.
Dark Tower books span many genres, including science-fiction, westerns, or horror. The Dark Tower reading order also includes dark fantasy that ties into Stephen King’s all-encompassing work with other novels he wrote about this quest for the tower itself being metaphorical to illustrate various themes like good versus evil (The Gunslinger), it even inspired games such as “Wizard And Glass.”
Before we jump into the Dark Tower reader order, can we take a moment to enjoy these magnificent covers? I don’t know what happened there in the middle, but the flow from one to the other in the rest is stunning.
The Dark Tower Reading Order by Publication
- The Gunslinger (1982)
- The Drawing of the Three (1987)
- The Waste Lands (1991)
- Wizard and Glass (1997)
- Wolves of the Calla (2003)
- Song of Susannah (2004)
- The Dark Tower (2004)
- The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012)
The Dark Tower Books in Chronological Order
- The Gunslinger
- The Drawing of the Three
- The Waste Lands
- Wizard and Glass
- The Wind Through the Keyhole
- Wolves of the Calla
- Song of Susannah
- The Dark Tower
The Dark Tower Reading Order – Graphic Novels
- The Journey Begins
- The Little Sisters of Eluria
- The Battle of Tull
- The Way Station
- The Man in Black
- Last Shots
The Drawing of the Three
The Dark Tower Books Summary
Here is a brief review of the dark tower series in the right reading order. We aim to ensure you fully grasp all dark tower series by reading them in order.
The Gunslinger (1982)
The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed. The Dark Tower, Stephen King’s bestselling fantasy series, begins Book I. The Gunslinger is a sci-fi novel that also features futuristic dystopia and spaghetti Western elements. It tells the story of Roland Deschain, Mid-World’s last gunslinger.
He is following an enigmatic magician, known only as “the man in black.” Roland follows his quarry through the demon-infested Mohaine Desert. First, he encounters a mad preacher lady and her murderous flock. Roland then holds palaver to a speaking demon and eventually meets a young boy from our universe named Jake Chambers. Roland joins Jake on his quest.
The Drawing of the Three (1987)
Roland, exhausted after his last encounter with the Man In Black on a remote mountain. Golgotha awakes on the Western Sea by a shoreline creature known as a Lobstrosity. Roland defeats the clawed creature but not before it eats two fingers and half his big toe. Roland fights off the delirium caused by the lobstrosity’s poison and pushes himself along the beach, where he finds three open doors that lead to our world. The first leads to New York in 1987 and the mind of Eddie Dean, a heroin addict.
The second takes you to 1964, and Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker, an African American woman who lost her bottom half but gained a psychotic second self. Finally, the third door takes you to 1977 and The Pusher, a psychopath responsible for Odetta’s injuries. Roland’s mission is to transform Odetta and Eddie into gunslingers before Detta rages and destroys them all. But, unfortunately, the Pusher cannot continue his bloody murder spree.
The Waste Lands (1991)
After several months, Roland’s new tet-mates are proficient gunslingers. Eddie Dean has quit heroin, and Odetta and Odetta have joined forces, resulting in Susannah Dean, a stronger and more balanced person. Roland changed ka while fighting The Pusher in 1977 New York. He saved Jake Chambers’ life by altering ka. Jake Chambers was a boy Roland believes has already died. Although they exist in separate worlds, Roland and Jake are united by the same madness:
The paradox of double memories. Roland, Susannah, and Eddie have to draw Jake into Mid-World, then guide him along the Path of the Beam until they reach the Dark Tower. Mid-World is not an easy place. Our tet is caught between the factions, the Pubes or the Grays, as they stumble into Lud’s ruined city. Blaine the Mono is an insane train with a passion for riddle and suicidal travels, so they must be awakened.
Wizard and Glass (1997)
Roland must work with his four friends, Eddie, Susannah, and Jake, to defeat Blaine. Blaine, the murderer, is driving the train at an alarming pace that puts lives at risk.
Roland captures a pink-colored wizard’s cup with his four friends. The glass gives Roland visions of the future as well as Susannah’s death. He is almost unconscious from these visions, but he eventually wakes up. Unfortunately, he is also plagued by visions from the glass that seems to have shaped his destiny and Susan’s.
Roland and his friends meet the Wizard of OZ in Emerald City the following day. Roland attempts to kill the wizard, but he flees. The Maerlyn Grapefruit that Roland left behind shows Roland’s mistake. Nevertheless, the group refuses to abandon the quest to find the dark tower.
The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012)
It is the eighth book in the Dark Tower saga. Stephen King prefers to call The Wind Through the Keyhole Book 4.5 of the series. This book takes place after the Green Palace escapes at the end of Wizard and Glass and before the tet reaches Calla Bryn Sturgis. This sets the stage for the Wolves of the Calla.
The Wind Through the Keyhole tells a story within another story. Roland and his American tet travel towards the River Whye in Mid-World at the beginning. Starkblast is a great storm that is coming. Roland recounts a story from his youth, in which he and Jamie DeCurry, his tet-mate, were sent to Debaria to investigate reports about a skin-man.
This is a dangerous shape-changer. Roland recounts another story while trying to comfort Bill Streeter, a young boy who survived a ruthless attack from the skin-man and Roland’s only witness. It is a dark fairytale from the book Magic Tales of Eld. These three stories are interwoven by the Starkblast’s freezing, howling winds.
Wolves of the Calla (2003)
Roland and his tet just returned to the path for the Beam when they discovered that inexperienced trackers were following them. They are from Calla Bryn Sturgis and desperately need gunslingers’ help. A band of masked riders, known as the Wolves, make a daring escape from Thunderclap every generation to steal half the Callas twins.
The children are either mentally or physically destroyed when they return home. Within a matter of a month, the Wolves are going to raid again. Father Callahan, a priest from our world, offers to help Roland. He has hidden a sinister globe called Black Thirteen under the floorboards in his church. Roland and his tet must not only find a way against the invincible Wolves but must also return home to New York to save the Dark Tower, the evil Sombra Corporation.
Song of Susannah (2004)
Our tet is facing yet another disaster after the Wolves’ defeat. A demon named Mia has taken Susannah Dean’s body to have a demon baby. Mia, who has stolen Black Thirteen, has made a journey through the Unfound Door to New York, where she will give birth to her chap. She is the child of two mothers, two fathers and will become Roland’s nemesis. Roland and Eddie will follow Susannah with the help of Manni, the time-traveling companion.
Father Callahan, Jake, and Calvin Tower will search for Calvin Tower, the vacant lot owner that holds a magical rose as the rose must not go missing. Our ka-tet has other plans, however. Jake, Callahan, and Jake’s bumbler companion travel to New York to find Susannah. Eddie and Roland then tumble into East Stoneham, Maine, where they are met by Eddie’s old enemy, the gangster Balazar. Roland and Eddie have to brave more than bullets. Soon, they will meet their maker in the form of Stephen King, a young author.
The Dark Tower (2004)
Roland’s katet is dispersed across many different places and times at the beginning of our final installment. Susannah Dean, still in the clutches of the demon Mia, is in End-World’s Fedic Dogan. This chamber of horrors houses magic and technology and allows a monstrous half-human to be born into the world.
Roland Deschain and Eddie Dean are in Maine, 1977. They are looking for paranormal walk-in activity and a way back to Mid-World. Father Callahan and Jake Chambers are fighting a group of vampires and low-ranking men at New York’s Dixie Pig Restaurant in 1999. Once our tet is reunited, they will have to travel to Thunderclap’s Wolves to find out why the Crimson King and his minions are culling the brains of children to make twin-telepathy enzymes. Roland’s quest for the Dark Tower is directly at the heart of their answer.
So, the best Dark Tower reading order discussion is publication order. It takes more time and effort but will allow you to enjoy the story as Stephen King intended for his readers.
The Dark Tower series is one of the most successful and best-selling works by Stephen King. It has become a classic in his repertoire, but which book do you think is the best in this series?
Leave your thoughts on what you believe to be the top book in this story through our comments section below.
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