By Stephen King
288 pages; Scribner

A teenage boy is caught in an epic struggle between the Gunslinger (Idris Elba) and the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) in this long-awaited film treatment (opening August 4) of Stephen King's merger of science fiction, western and ancient fable. King's eight-book Dark Tower series has been infamously hard to bring to the screen—Ron Howard and J.J. Abrams were both attached to the adaptation before finding it too unwieldy. Getting the epic onscreen meant trimming, and the film version reportedly dispenses with Eddie and Susannah, two fan-favorite characters. Go to King's first book not just for the deeper backstory but also to watch him work masterfully outside the horror genre. Set against a barren landscape, the novel manages to wrestle with questions about good and evil while avoiding the expected blood and gore.

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