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Silent Runner

Stephen King

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12 hours ago, Silent Runner said:

I'm almost finished his new one, The Institute, and it's really good. The setup didn't really interest me at first but the execution, the pacing and the characters are so well written it's a delight to read. 


I think I've about 100 pages to go, I'm in that classic King moment where I want to fly through the pages to find out what happens but I want to drag it out as much as possible too.


The best thing he's done since Revival and one of the best things he has written in a lot of years. 

 

Finished this up tonight and thought it was fantastic right up to the end which was a little weak - it felt like he lost his nerve in the last few pages. But otherwise it was a great read. 

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I'm just finishing the Gunslinger (dark tower 1). I liked it at first but have lost interest a bit. Is it worth carrying on with the series?

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The Drawing of the Three is excellent, it really expands on the ideas of The Gunslinger and is filled with strange and unique ideas. I am only on the third book (The Waste Lands) but the series is only getting better in my view. I think it's clear that a lot of his ideas had time to percolate and his his themes develop between the publication of the first book and him continuing the series.

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@Plums

 

My biased view is that they are all magnificent.

 

My unbiased view - if that's even possible - is that the first book is an unusual one for King. It's curious on first read, but more likable in retrospect, once you've read the others.

 

If you like his novels, I think you'd find it hard not to love books 2 thru 4 (Drawing of the Three | Wastelands | Wizard and Glass). King's novels are always at least "one genre + horror" but those four are his widest reach in terms of mashing things together into a tasty and satisfying genre-stew. Every sci-fi principle, fantasy trope, wild west-aping, post-apocalyptic, Arthurian, Lovecraftian horror inflection is exploited to its fullest, with even less restraint than he usually has (!) The fact he blends them all so well is a testament to his ability stick the needle firmly past the red line, whilst also weaving his other stories into one big universe.

 

The final three (Wolves of the Callah | Song of Susannah | Dark Tower) are recommended to fans, but some people are less keen. The stuff constant readers love (intense focus on characters, some of whom may have little bearing on the narrative; lots of evocative description whilst the main plot is spinning its wheels; minutiae about how the world works and a general expansiveness that could- probably should - be whittled down in editing) is in full-force. It's still a fantastic story being told, but you will only feel the full benefit if you like his novels generally - a good barometer is: do you love and re-read The Stand? Do you appreciate and obsess over the tiniest details in IT? If so, you'll fly through 'em.

 

As for the final book in the series...I don't agree King's endings are poor. Yes, they often run to natural conclusions, which means a lot of characters you care about die! I think some readers find this irritating & off-putting. Book seven simultaneously manages to be peak-King and also subvert those criticisms to an extent - impossible to explain without spoilers. I think, though, that the series' ending is fantastic and had me chuckling with glee. That's not a common reaction, though! It is a very divisive book in general, but I would argue the end of huge fantasy epics are rarely what the fans want, nor what they feel they should get. If you make is as far as #7 I would temper your expectations.

 

So I guess my tl;dr is: for King mega-fans, the series is as essential as converting air into carbon dioxide. For people who haven't pored over every book but quite like his style, books 2, 3 and 4 are fast-paced and will appeal to just about anyone into genre fiction, but that audience might be turned-off by the latter third of the trilogy, once King series settles into his more usual style. So, keep going for now, Plums, but don't waste your time on them if you aren't intrigued enough to get you through the dense thicket of lore and character that springs up in the final three novels :) 

 

EDIT: I'd say another barometer of taste is, have you read the His Dark Materials novels? How did you feel about them? DT is sort-of comparable, as it's often hard on its protagonists, is often emotionally tough to get through and (narratively-speaking) can never end up being anything other than bittersweet, at best.

 

 

 

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I think my favourite parts of the first book were the flashbacks to Roland's training, quite brutal and very compelling.

 

I read some Stephen king as a child but can't remember any of it really. I remember enjoying His Dark Materials too but again my memory of it is hazy. Oddly enough I heard a podcast with Phillip Pullman recently and had a strong urge to reread it. I got rid of the books ages ago, sadly.

 

Anyway I think I'll probably get the second book and see how it goes. Having no good second hand bookshops near me is really reducing the amount I am reading. 

 

I noticed that right at the beginning there's an incongruous mention of Roland feeling dizzy or somesuch. This immediately had me thinking that there is going to be some circular narrative/time travel/quantum leap stuff happening. End loops back to the beginning type thing.

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I've been reading The Institute. It's a fair-to-middling late-period King page-turner - a good read but I don't think anything he's done in the last few years has matched the power of his earlier works. The central story, about a bunch of psychic kids trapped in some kind of experimental facility, is decent, and King still writes about kids better than almost any other author, but it suffers a bit from a surfeit of interchangeable goons and it's all a bit predictable. I'm glad he's still writing, he's as prolific as ever and I've not read a King book I haven't enjoyed in some way, but I do miss his wilder flights of fancy a bit.

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Yeah, I thought 'The Institute' was middling. Tbh, if you'd gave me it and stripped out the references to Maine, I don't know if I could have told you it was a King book.

 

His best book in years has been 11/22/63 but Revival runs it a close second.

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I'm currently re-reading The Stand for the first time in 20 years, as it seemed oddly prescient.

 

Still my favourite, and even moreso on this reading. Just past the Lincoln Tunnel bit, so barely made a dent, happy for it to last forever.

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