Unlike many people who have left reviews here, I view Stephen King's first Dark Tower novel, "The Gunslinger" not as something to be suffered through in order to get at the riches which lay beyond, but as an excellent stand alone novel.
Lousy at some may think it is, I actually fell in love with that old version of "The Gunslinger". No, it's not your typical, linear, run of the mill story. If that frightens you, stay away from this book. It's written in an artistic, vague, almost pretentious way (King edited some of this out in the new version, but the core stil remains). Obviously some people find this annoying, but I love it. To me it is almost the novel equivalent of a Sergio Leone movie, because his movies can be described much the same way. Needless to say, I was more than understanding of King's admission that "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" was an inspiration for this story.
So I very much surprised when I learned that King had gone and "revised and expanded" this novel which I loved. Blasphemy! I thought. Of course, I went and bought it anyway. My feelings on the new version are mixed. I like the additional scenes (almost like watching the cut-scenes on a DVD), but overall the novel seems to have lost something to me... lost a bit of that original pretentious magic.
Slowly but surely, King has degenerated his Dark Tower story into just another one of his crazy romps where seemingly anything and everything goes. I, for one, will always prefer that mysterious, haunting image of the last gunslinger, following across the desert. But that's just me.