Is 2017’s ‘The Dark Tower’ A Sequel? [Spoilers]

The name “Stephen King” has risen to the forefront of pop culture lately, so it is no wonder the movie “adaptation” of his Dark Tower books due out in August is a very big deal. The series is considered by many fans to be the pinnacle of King’s bibliography, after all.

The word adaptation is placed in quotes above because, as the directors of the movie have confirmed explicitly and Stephen King himself has implied in a very cryptic tweet, the movie will not be a 1:1 retelling of The Dark Tower’s events as they were written. Instead, it will be a sequel to the literary series. The series was finished, though, so how does a sequel make sense when we have never been given a Dark Tower movie before?

Warning: Massive spoilers that reveal the end of the Dark Tower book series (although not the movie) lie ahead. If you are planning to read the series, do not continue. It is understandable if you are not, however, as the seven Dark Tower books do comprise around 4,250 pages. That’s quite a bit of text to process, and some people might prefer to wait for the much-condensed cinematic version. If you are included in that camp, or if you are already familiar with the ending of The Dark Tower, read on.

The Dark Tower is the story of a master Gunslinger (like a cross between King Arthur, Neo, and Clint Eastwood) named Roland Deschain and his quest to reach the Dark Tower, a powerful cosmic structure that binds worlds together. Roland, who meets several fellow gunslingers early on in his quest who accompany him, is racing against both the Man in Black (an entity bent on the destruction of the tower) and time itself — the Tower will fall if he does not get to it in time. In the last of the seven books, most of Roland’s companions (including Jake Chambers, a character included in the movie) die, and Roland does indeed reach the Dark Tower. So how is a sequel possible?

When Roland reaches the top of the tower he has quested for in the books, he finds the start of his journey. It is revealed that Roland has been sentenced to repeat his journey to the tower over and over again until he can finish it without making any errors in moral judgment. The only difference in the beginning of Roland’s “new cycle,” reveals the book, is that he sets off in possession of the Horn of Eld, an artifact he encountered during his youth.

Stephen King's Magnum Opus
[Image by Evan Scola/]

If the ending of The Dark Tower sounds like a letdown, you’re not alone in thinking that. It also angered many King fans who had hoped for a more exciting conclusion to the otherwise epic saga.

“The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way,” said Nikolaj Arcel, the Dark Tower director, in an Entertainment Weekly interview last Summer.

King himself sent out a tweet that tells us more about the sequel change.

“The Dark Tower is close, now,” reads the tweet. “Soon Roland will raise the Horn of Eld. And blow.”

Accompanying the text is a photo of the Horn of Eld that reads “Last Time Around.” This suggests that, in this cycle, Roland will attain an actual resolution, meaning he will not need to take on the journey again.

Conveniently, the fact this is technically a totally different journey than the one written about in The Dark Tower means that the filmmakers can make any changes they want to the story and cannot be accused of being unfaithful to the books.

Obviously, we will not know what all of the changes to The Dark Tower will be until it is actually released on August 4. We do know from the casting announcement that the movie will contain Jake Chambers but not Eddie or Susannah Dean (Roland’s other two gunslinger companions), one huge deviation from the Dark Tower books that is likely to upset a lot of King readers. Also, Roland is bald and the Man in Black is Matthew McConaughey. Hopefully, the as-of-yet unknown changes will be better news.

As long as more changes will be made, what would you like to see play out differently than in the books?

[Featured Image by BrilliantEye/iStock]