****Warning the following may contain spoilers if you have not read the complete Dark Tower series by Stephen King*****
“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”
Above is the first line from The Gunslinger book one of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. This opening line is often heralded as one of the best sentences Stephen King has ever written. Upon first reading the sentence, I knew it was great, but didn’t realize why until I finished the whole series and started to compose short short short stories of my own.
That one single sentence, told the complete story of the eight book series. And to be expected most readers will not understand this until they finish the series. Lets break it down and see why it’s so great.
The man in black– this part represents not only a person who is a central antagonist throughout the works, but it also describes the greater antagonist the world in which Roland lives, black. These four words describe the struggle and hardships very well.
fled across the desert- even though the man in black(world) is the enemy has taken steps toward darkening the world further, the darkness is now fleeing as a result of the actions of Roland and his friends. The desert symbolizes how desperate the enemy now is, to even cross the desert in order to lose the gunslinger.
, and the gunslinger followed- Roland, a gunslinger continues on his duty to follow the man in black (both literally and figuratively), in order to search the evil out and put an end to it. Notice the sentence ends with “followed” not a word or words describing a victory by Roland. Once you read the last book this makes perfect sense. The sentence is meant to seem repetitive in nature because as we learn in fact Roland is having to repeat this sentence over and over.
For once, I agree with the critiques and reviews. This is one of the best sentences, I have ever read.