The first screen adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower debuts next week, and it doesn’t stretch the truth to say I’ve waited a long time for this moment, as I’ve been reading King since he first came onto the scene with the publication of Carrie. I’ve noted before that Salem’s Lot was one of the first I came across, as well as one of the first adult/horror novels I read.
With the new version of IT coming out in early September, I recently cracked that doorstop novel open again, and it put me in the mood to try my hand at another journey to the Tower. And since so many of King’s stories radiate from the Tower, the next question to address is a reading order.
Here’s my attempt at a comprehensive list, which includes shorter works:
“Night Surf” (Night Shift)
The Eyes of the Dragon
The Drawing of the Three
The Dead Zone
“N” (Just After Sunset)
Wizard and Glass
“Jerusalem’s Lot” (Night Shift)
“One for the Road” (Night Shift)
The Wind Through The Keyhole
Wolves of the Calla
“The Little Sisters of Eluria” (Everything’s Eventual)
“The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet” (Skeleton Crew)
Hearts In Atlantis
“UR” (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
“Everything’s Eventual” (Everything’s Eventual)
From A Buick 8
Storm of the Century
Bag of Bones
“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” (Different Seasons)
“The Mist” (Skeleton Crew)
Song of Susannah
The Dark Tower
Rather than just listing the eight novels (inserting the later novel TWTTK between TW and WOTC), I’ve added prequels that touch on the concept of a greater universe/multi-verse, and then took a tour through King’s fictional Maine after the first two books to set up locations and concepts (such as circles with “N”) before tackling the books that comprise the main sequence of King’s larger tale. There is a return to the aforementioned Lot and a visit with the original “breaker” Carrie White in this list.
I welcome tweaks and additions. Some I’ve already discounted, even though they’re listed on the Connections page of Stephen King’s Dark Tower site, such as Bag of Bones, “Autopsy Room Four,” and The Plant, as their relationship are so tenuous that you wouldn’t miss anything if you skipped them on your trip.
I’ve made some changes to the order, placing “One for the Road” after Salem’s Lot, and I removed “The Road Virus Heads North” as it’s tie seems more tenuous than I first thought.
I also moved Cell to right after IT for two reasons. The premise for Clayton Riddell’s Dark Wanderer pays homage to Roland’s quest and the apocalypse depicted within Cell’s pages is “smaller” than the one readers will encounter in The Stand, and so its Pulse is more an apértif to the longer, epic encounter found in the world decimated by Captain Trips.