Unlock the Secrets: Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series Book Order

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” So begins The Gunslinger: the first installment of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. The Dark Tower book order is pretty straightforward, but a mid-series prequel novel — not to mention the interquel published five years after the series officially ended — may muddy the waters a bit for newcomers. Not to worry, though, because we’ve got you covered here.

Unlock the Secrets: Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Series Book Order

Stephen King’s fans, the Constant Readers, widely consider The Dark Tower to be his magnum opus. Although the eight Dark Tower books aren’t as famous as King’s more well-known works, the foundational myth that drives hero Roland Deschain — that of a mysterious Dark Tower containing all possible universes — acts as a lynchpin, turning the “standalone” novels in King’s catalog into a giant web.

So how should you approach The Dark Tower? Surprisingly, the answer to that question doesn’t change based on how many King books you’ve already read. You don’t need to have read every Stephen King book to understand and appreciate The Dark Tower. Likewise, it’s not necessary to read The Dark Tower before King’s other works. As long as you read the Dark Tower books themselves in order, you’ll be golden.

Keep reading to learn more about The Dark Tower and get the definitive series order. Reader beware: minor spoilers lie ahead.

About The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Written in 1977, The Gunslinger finally landed in stores in 1982. King would publish six more books in the series over the next quarter-century, each of which brought the eponymous gunslinger, Roland Deschain, closer to his Tower. (An eighth book, the interquel The Wind Through the Keyhole, arrived in 2012.) 

The eight books in this series follow the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain, on his quest to save the Dark Tower. Located in End-World, on the edge of Roland’s homeland, this massive structure contains all possible realities, stacked on top of each other. The gunslinger’s world is the only place from which the Tower may be reached, and, paradoxically, is also a level of the Tower in and of itself.

The Dark Tower is under attack from the Crimson King: a demonic entity that shares some history with Roland and the House of Deschain. As the Crimson King’s assault begins to crumble the Tower, the boundaries between worlds become thin. Not only does this allow monsters to escape from the abyss and cross into the physical realm, but it also causes space and time to break down in each affected universe. If he can destroy the Dark Tower completely, the Crimson King could potentially make himself into a god lording over the multiverse.

As the last in the line of Arthur Eld, a legendary king who fought for peace and eventually unified the land under a single banner, Roland may be the only man capable of saving the Dark Tower. At the start of the series, he has outlived almost everyone he’s ever known — with the exception of the Man in Black, Walter O’Dim. 

If he’s going to reach the Tower, though, Roland needs allies in the fight. As the series progresses, he pulls together his ka-tet — the people he’s fated to fight alongside — often crossing spacetime over and over again to reach them.

Keep reading to learn more about Roland’s adventures and the order in which you should read the Dark Tower books.

The Dark Tower Books In Order

The Gunslinger

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger (Dark Tower, The)

Roland’s friends are all dead, but the Man in Black lives, and the gunslinger aims to take him down. Too bad he’s always one step behind the crafty old magician.

The first and shortest of the original Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger follows Roland on his adventures across the Mohaine Desert. Along the way, he meets Jake Chambers: a preteen boy who becomes the first member of his second ka-tet. 

Someone pushed Jake into traffic in New York City. He died in the street, only to wake up in Mid-World. Roland takes him under his wing, but pressures soon mount in the gunslinger’s pursuit of the Tower, forcing him to make a terrible choice.

The Drawing of the Three

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three (2)

Five years after he published The Gunslinger, King returned to Roland’s story in The Drawing of the Three

Here, Roland draws two new members of his ka-tet into Mid-World. Eddie Dean is a New Yorker with a major substance abuse problem, who has fallen on the wrong side of a drug lord’s good graces. Civil rights activist Odetta Holmes’ mild-mannered nature belies her other self — a violent persona who goes by the name of Detta Walker. They’ll become key players in Roland’s quest for the Tower, but they have some personal issues to work out first.

The Waste Lands

The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands (3)

Roland is not having a good time for most of The Waste Lands. Jake’s absence has left the gunslinger with conflicting sets of memories. He now remembers the events of The Gunslinger in two ways: one in which Jake was present, the other in which he was never there at all. Meanwhile, in New York, Jake faces a similar problem, as he’s haunted by his journey across the Mohaine Desert with Roland — a journey that could not possibly have happened.

Wizard and Glass

The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass (4)

Now accompanied by their new animal friend, a billy-bumbler named Oy, Roland, Eddie, Jake, and Susannah — formerly known as Odetta and Detta — have survived their first trials as a united ka-tet. As they approach the strange Emerald City hovering over the Interstate, Roland shares his coming-of-age story with his new compatriots, explaining how he became a gunslinger and why he’s questing toward the Dark Tower. That story makes up the bulk of Wizard and Glass.

Optional: The Wind Through the Keyhole

The Wind Through the Keyhole: The Dark Tower IV-1/2

The Wind Through the Keyhole was the eighth Dark Tower book to be published, but it takes place between the events of Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. Here, the ka-tet are forced to take shelter from an oncoming storm. As they hunker down for the evening, Roland regales his friends with another story from his adolescence and introduces them to “The Wind Through the Keyhole”: a fairy tale from his childhood.

Optional: ‘Salem’s Lot

'Salem's Lot

Let’s be clear: ‘Salem’s Lot is not technically a Dark Tower book. Stephen King’s second novel follows a handful of people who must take up arms when a vampire infestation strikes the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine. Among them is Donald Callahan, the local Catholic priest, who will go on to play a major role in the last three Dark Tower novels.

Wolves of the Calla

The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla (5) (Packaging may vary)

Roland’s ka-tet make their way to the small town of Calla Bryn Sturgis, whose residents beg for their assistance in fighting off the eponymous Wolves. Every pregnancy in Calla Bryn Sturgis results in twins, and the Wolves ransack the town every 23 years to steal away one child from each pair. Although the children always return, they do not live for very long. It’s up to Roland and his band of gunslingers to put a stop to the attacks, once and for all, in Wolves of the Calla.

Song of Susannah

The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah (6)

Song of Susannah sees the stakes of Roland’s quest rise to new heights. A demon has taken possession of Susannah’s body and escaped Mid-World. Accompanied by Father Callahan, Roland and his ka-tet follow her to a version of 1999 New York, where the Crimson King dispatches a heavy retinue of guards to stop them.

The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower (7)

It ends here. The events of the previous books have all led up to this: The Dark Tower. Roland is closer to the Tower than ever before, but the Crimson King still awaits.

Final Thoughts

We’ve tried to keep this list as spoiler-free as possible so that you can experience The Dark Tower for yourself. Hopefully, it has whetted your appetite for King’s fantasy-western series.


Is the Dark Tower book series finished?

Yes, the Dark Tower book series is finished and Stephen King has repeatedly said so.

In what order should I read the Dark Tower books?

We recommend reading the books in the order listed above. Although the bulk of Wizard and Glass concerns Roland’s adventures as an adolescent, its framing story takes place after the events of The Waste Lands, so we do not recommend reading it before the other books.

The Wind Through the Keyhole, which takes place between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla, was published in 2012 — five years after The Dark Tower landed in stores. It can be read between the fourth and fifth books, or after you’ve finished reading the original series.

Finally, ‘Salem’s Lot is an optional book that provides background information on Father Callahan, who joins Roland’s ka-tet after the events of Wolves of the Calla.

How many books are connected to the Dark Tower series?

Constant Readers have discovered connections to The Dark Tower in 31 of Stephen King’s books. King’s 1992 film, Sleepwalkers, and his 2004 TV series, Kingdom Hospital, also contain references to The Dark Tower.

Are all of Stephen King’s books connected?

Not all Stephen King books contain references to The Dark Tower. The vast majority of his works connect to one another in small ways, however. The fictional cities of Derry and Castle Rock, both in Maine, appear frequently throughout King’s body of work. Constant Readers may also spot references to Carrie, Misery, Cujo, and other books peppered throughout King’s catalog.

Is Pennywise in The Dark Tower series?

No, Stephen King’s character  Pennywise does never appear in any of the Dark Tower books throughout the entire series. Pennywise is a character from Stephen King’s beloved novel It, and is not connected to the Dark Tower series, though alternative fan theories run rampant.

Is Pet Sematary connected to The Dark Tower?

No, Pet Sematary is not connected to The Dark Towerseries. It’s a standalone book and Stephen King has made it clear in interviews that there is no connection between the two worlds.

Who is Stephen King?

Stephen King is the bestselling American author of many horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy books. His series and standalone books have sold more than 350 million copies worldwide and many have been adapted into feature films, TV shows, and comic books. He has written over 60 novels and 200 short stories, many of which have been international bestsellers. 

King is known for his ability to create instantly compelling and truly frightening stories and complex characters, as well as his deep exploration of the human condition and complex psychology. He has won numerous awards, including the Bram Stoker Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the O. Henry Award. 

He’s one of our all-time favorite writers and we’re not alone in that opinion, King is beloved the world over. He continues to write and publish new works to this day from his home in New England and is considered one of the most influential authors of the horror and fantasy genres. Hence, the millions and millions of Stephen King fans.

We hope this article about the Dark Tower book order serves as a great into for you to dive into the amazing books of this maste, including Stephen King’s magnum opus and amazing story arcs across series and multiple genres. If you like fantasy and science fiction plus horror, these books will hit the right spot. Enjoy the Dark Tower saga!

Bonus: Here are 20 other fantasy books you will love if you’re a fan of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series

1. Good Omens (1990, Fantasy) by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
2. The Way of Kings (2010, Fantasy) by Brandon Sanderson
3. The Name of the Wind (2007, Fantasy) by Patrick Rothfuss 
4. The Dispossessed (1974, Science Fiction) by Ursula K. Le Guin
5. Mistborn (2006, Fantasy) by Brandon Sanderson 
6. The Eye of the World (1990, Fantasy) by Robert Jordan 
7. The Blade Itself (2006, Fantasy) by Joe Abercrombie 
8. The Hero of Ages (2008, Fantasy) by Brandon Sanderson 
9. The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013, Fantasy) by Neil Gaiman 
10. American Gods (2001, Fantasy) by Neil Gaiman 
11. The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006, Fantasy) by Scott Lynch
12. Little, Big (1981, Fantasy) by John Crowley 
13. A Game of Thrones (1996, Fantasy) by George R. R. Martin 
14. The Wise Man’s Fear (2011, Fantasy) by Patrick Rothfuss 
15. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever (1977, Fantasy) by Stephen R. Donaldson 
16. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979, Science Fiction) by Douglas Adams

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K.W. Colyard