Roland Deschain is a gunfighter, and the youngest one on record, having achieved the title when he was a mere 14 years old. Travelling with his ka-tet, Roland fought evil and fell in love with a woman named Susan Delgado, who became his lover and became pregnant with his child. But she was burned at the stake by the people of Hambry, and Roland is in a state of extreme depression because of it.He still carries her burned body, and flees the people of people of Hambry with the remaining members of his ka-tet, Alain and Bert.
However, he knows who to blame for Susan's death, and he shoots Maerlynd's Grapefruit, the orb they captured from Farson and are bringing home to Roland's father, Arthur Eid. His ka-tet are upset with him for shooting it. Knowing how much Farson valued the orb, they are sure it is valuable beyond imagining. But shooting the orb turns it into a strange-looking eyeball, complete with eyestalk. Before they can pick it up or dispose of it, it attacks Roland, sucking his consciousness inside it, where he is tormented by the images of those he has killed.
Back in the real world, his Ka-tet try to keep him alive from the Hambry posse that is hunting them down. Meanwhile, Roland's friend Sheemie, a boy who is mentally handicapped, sets out to try and find Roland himself. But he runs into a strange figure in a graveyard- a figure that performs horrible experiments on the boy, leaving him- changed.
As Roland fights against Marten Farson in that strange world of the grapefruit/eye, Bert attempts to go in after Roland and try to save him. But within the world of the Grapefruit, Farson is too strong, even if at times, Roland seems to escape his control and return to help his fellow gunslingers against various natural and unnatural dangers they encounter in their quest to escape and get home.
Meanwhile, inside the grapefruit, Roland is dragged before its Lord, a demon who calls him "cousin" and is descended from the same ancestor. But since the ancestor, Arthur Eid, was merely ancestor to Roland many times removed, and this demon is Arthur Eid's son, that makes them cousins of a sort. The Demon wants Roland to join him in destroying all the humans so that the Demon race can take over the world and rule as they once did. But Roland won't agree to that- and when the Demon promises him a world of pain.
With his ka-tet unable to overcome Farson and free Roland from the Melon/eye, it looks like he'll have to be saved by a hero. But what if he just has Sheemie? Can Sheemie be the Hero that Roland needs?
I haven't read any of the Dark Tower books, but once again, I was hoping for this series to be my introduction to them. In this case, not so much- the story started in Media Res, and just took off from there, dragging me along in its wake. Okay, I didn't know who Sheemie was, or what the gunslingers were, but that didn't really matter much to the story. You pick up quickly that Roland is the hero, Susan was his love (and is now dead), his ka-tet are his friends, and that they are being chased and are on the run.
The rest of it was more of a mystery to me, like the identity of Arthur Eid, but the story hung together well enough that I didn't have any questions. I've heard that some people claim Peter David can't write Stephen King well, but since I don't usually read Stephen King, that really doesn't matter much to me. My question was more of, 'Does this story work as a good adventure?', and the answer to that is a whole-hearted, "Yes."
Despite the fact that I didn't really know the backstory of what was going on, I still found it interesting to read and experience. Perhaps I didn't come into it with the full knowledge of what was going on, but that really didn't matter to the story. What you needed to know was explained, and the rest really didn't matter. I still enjoyed it enough to recommend it.