If you have a cursory understanding of the interconnectivity of the Stephen King universe, you’ll probably know something’s up with the paperback cover of Gwendy’s Final Task — the conclusion of a trilogy of novels co-written with Ricardo Chizmar.
The bowler hat, the field of roses, the monolithic structure looming in the background… it all seems pretty familiar, right? Although the hat has become an unofficial symbol of the gwendy series as a whole (appearing in some form in the hardcover and paperback editions of all three novels), the flowers and castle-like building come directly from the pages of King’s magnum opus, the dark tower. This begs the question: How much of Sai King’s other work will he have to have read to enjoy/understand? Gwendy’s Final Task? Fear not, constant reader, because we are here to break it down for you.
Fortunately, there is no “right” way to prepare for Final task; your task depends more on the kind of reading experience you want to have. Are you a bit curious, hoping to get through the plot mechanics without having to study too much? It is not a problem. Or maybe you’re a more encyclopedic student, hoping that the hours you spend poring over The Dark Tower: A Concordance will pay with the value of a wicker basket of Easter eggs. That works too.
Either way, we have several categories of recommended reading for the above two types and everything in between. With Gwendy’s Final Task now available in paperback, read on and find out where you land (and what you need to catch up).
Believe it or not, you could get in Gwendy’s Final Task completely cold and still understand what is going on. Although it’s the conclusion to the King and Chizmar trilogy, it efficiently catches you up on not only what the now 64-year-old protagonist has been up to since the second book, Gwendy’s magic pen, but in everything that happened in the first two novels. From her receiving the mysterious (yet possibly destructive) box of buttons from an enigmatic man named Richard Farris when she was a child to her adult career as a writer and senator, it’s all here as some kind of literary equivalent to “Previously On…”
What’s more, the two authors approach the summary gracefully, gradually doling out bits and pieces during their journey into outer space. Given Gwendy’s interstellar travel and a health issue that we won’t spoil here, it makes sense that the series’ hero is in a somewhat reflective state.
Make no mistake, this might not be the most rewarding way to read Gwendy’s Final Task; the climax of her journey will definitely resonate more emotionally if he has spent more time with her than just reading a quick (but expertly told) summary. And that’s not to mention the connections to other King books. But he will still be able to follow the plot with relative ease.
the casual fan
What is in your backpack? gwendy Button Box, Gwendy’s magic pen
As we said before, reading the first two books is not completely necessary to understand the basic narrative of Gwendy’s Final Task. But it will definitely make the novel more satisfying from a character point of view.
What is in your backpack? gwendy Button Box, gwendy’s magic pen, and the seven novels of the dark tower Serie
Alright, now we’re getting into weeds (or, more appropriately, Devil Grass). From the first pages of Gwendy’s Button Boxit was clear that the series was going to have at least some minor ties to the dark towergiven that Richard Farris (aka “RF”) could be one of the most prominent characters in King’s western fantasy epic.
But Gwendy’s Final Task it has even more explicit connections to Mid-World and beyond, from its visuals to its real reason for going into space to a prominent catchphrase that strikes differently if you know its origins. The problem is that the dark tower novels aren’t exactly standalone, and if you’re hooked on The gunmanyou can also finish the whole saga.
To be clear, by no means do you have to read seven books out of the by gwendy series (and maybe The wind through the keyhole if you’re feeling ambitious) to enjoy Final task. But it will make the rather light-hearted novel feel even more epic.
What is in your backpack? gwendy Button Box, gwendy’s magic pen, the seven novels of the dark tower Serie, The support, the eyes of the dragon, It’sY hearts in atlantis
If you have read the dark tower series, you know that all things serve the lightning. Or rather, all of Stephen King’s works connect to the story of Roland Deschain and the ka-tet of him (more on that in a bit). That said, some books have stronger connections to the Tower than others, and in Gwendy’s Final Taska handful of books adjacent to the Tower figure a little deeper into the plot.
Although it will have received a lot of RF in the dark towerplays an even more central role in The support Y the eyes of the dragon. Also, the main plot of the above ties in with a real-world event featured in Final tasknot to mention revealing where RF may have obtained the specific alias he uses in the gwendy trilogy. as for It’slet’s say your main configuration ranks high in Final task. Y hearts in atlantis you should familiarize yourself with terms that may appear as “switches”. Granted, you will hear that word many times in the dark tower books, but it’s about building on what you already know. With the maximalist approach, you basically make sure you understand every last King reference in Final task.
We could tell you to also read Insomnia (where you get more than Tower tradition and location It’s) and the dark tower-in parallel the talisman Y black house. And what about salem lot? Which brings us to…
What is in your backpack? Everything Stephen King has ever written.
Stephen King had started linking his books in various ways well before 2004. But that was the year that saw the release of The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannaha novel that, through the introduction of a surprising new character, connects literally everything that man has ever written.
So for the completist, the best reading experience for the finale of the Gwendy trilogy (or anything written by King) means reading everything that came before. A titanic task, without a doubt. But hey, many of you probably already have.
Gwendy’s Final Task is now available in paperback through Gallery Books. Request a copy here.