By Neil Kleid
The road has been long and the dangers many, but this September, Roland Deschain's ka-tet returns home.
Picking up the pieces of THE LONG ROAD HOME, this summer's latest chapter in the critically-acclaimed series based on Stephen King's "Dark Tower" novels, the epic tale of the last gunslinger's quest, DARK TOWER: TREACHERY finally brings Roland, Cuthbert and Alain back to Gilead, their families and the beginning of the end. But just because the gunslingers have come home, that doesn't mean the danger has faded—evil lurks outside Gilead's walls, beneath it's corridors and within the hearts of the three young men that have brought home with them In-World's greatest threat: Maerlyn's Grapefruit, the pink shard of Wizard's Glass that has captured Roland in its seductive clutches.
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Before our ka-tet—because you and I, faithful readers, are bound by a tet all our own—travels those last, final wheels on the long road home and into the heart of treachery, let's take a moment to recall the familiar names and faces we'll be seeing in the pages of TREACHERY, either swelling our hearts or striking fear into them—do ya kennit?
The last descendant of Arthur Eld, first of the gunslingers, Roland is destined to travel All-World and reach the Dark Tower, the axis upon which infinite numbers of parallel worlds rotate. Years before his quest began, Roland, son of Steven, battled his teacher for the right to bear his first pair of guns and was sent east to the town of Hambry where he met and lost his true love, was ensnared in the deadly web of the Crimson King, and was trapped by the malevolent temptations of Maerlyn's Grapefruit, one of the last remaining seeing stones. As Roland returns to Gilead and his father, his heart and mind are trapped there still.
Brash, lively and social, Bert is Roland's closest childhood friend, from gunslinger training through the tragedy in Mejis and back down the long road home. Though events drove a rift between them, Cuthbert fled an enraged posse, battled wolves and protected an unconscious Roland as the ka-tet traveled the road to Gilead, even going so far as to mercifully kill his own horse.
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Blond, blue-eyed and blessed with a cool head and psychic abilities, Alain often mediates skirmishes between Roland and Bert, especially in hot situations like in Hambry. When Roland became trapped in the Grapefruit, Alain entered its realm to rescue him and was forcefully ejected by the seeing stone and the evil Marten Broadcloak. While helping Bert fend off a pack of wolves, Alain suffered injury but his wounds were healed by the arrival of Sheemie Ruiz who successfully retrieved Roland from the Grapefruit.
A 29th generation descendant of Arthur Eld, Roland's father sent his son on a mission to the town of Hambry in the Barony of Mejis to keep him safe from the clutches of Marten Broadcloak, Steven's adviser and betrayer. Keeper of Arthur Eld's guns—also known as "Excalibur"—Steven and his tet prepare to protect Gilead from the oncoming forces of John Farson, the Good Man, as Roland and his fellows return from their ill-fated mission.
Also known as Walter O'Dim, also known as Flagg, also known as the Walkin' Dude, Marten Broadcloak acts as Steven Deschain's adviser and the Affiliation's chief betrayer. His seduction of Steven's wife, Gabrielle, enraged Roland into taking his gunslinger test early on orders of the Crimson King. In league with the King and John Farson,
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Marten pursued and attacked Roland inside Maerlyn's Grapefruit as the young gunslinger escaped Hambry, bringing him to the castle of the Crimson King where Roland was forced to join them or be killed. Sheemie Ruiz' timely arrival saved Roland but as the possessed gunslinger reaches Gilead, Marten still plots in the shadows.
Known as "The Good Man", Farson leads a revolution against Gilead, uniting the common man against the gunslingers toward a redistribution of power. Though little is known about Farson before his revolution, his influence throughout the Baronies is spread far and wide — all the way to Mejis where Roland and his ka-tet foiled his plot to use Hambry's oil to power ancient machines, which could have wiped out the gunslingers. Collaborating with Marten, the Crimson King and the last of the Big Coffin Hunters, Farson is preparing to attack Gilead and bring down the gunslingers.
Handsome and debonair, Reynolds is the last surviving member of the mercenary band known as the Big Coffin Hunters, who were wiped out by Roland, Bert and Alain. Reynolds escaped from Mejis with a posse that chased Roland's ka-tet on the long road home but lost them across the river.
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Formerly a Hambry tavern boy, Sheemie assisted Roland's ka-tet in stopping John Farson's plans but blames himself for the death of Susan, Roland's love. Mildly "touched in the head," Sheemie followed the gunslingers from Mejis to an abandoned station—"The Dogan"—where he awakened long-dormant robots who experimented on him, granted him powers of teleportation, telepathy and healing. Reaching the gunslingers as Alain and Bert battled wolves and Roland fought Marten and the Crimson King inside the Grapefruit, Sheemie entered Maerlyn's seeing stone, forced Roland out, and disappeared.
Stocky and stoic, Cort taught Roland's ka-tet the ways of the gunslinger. When Roland—goaded into taking his test early by the treacherous Marten—bests Cort in battle, the young gunslinger wins his first pair of guns. Often rough with his students, Cort's gruff demeanor masks a wealth of valuable information Roland uses on his eventual quest for the Dark Tower.
THE CRIMSON KING:
Evil incarnate, ruling from his castle in the dark reaches of End World, the spider-like Crimson King is obsessed with the thought of overthrowing the Dark Tower, the hub to all existence, mounting its steps and destroying it. Served by the foul creatures of All-World, including Marten Broadcloak and John Farson, the Crimson King descends, like Roland, from a lineage of Arthur Eld
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himself. When Roland's mind was trapped in Maerlyn's Grapefruit, the evil creature asked the young gunslinger to help him destroy the Dark Tower and restore chaos to existence. Roland refused, but before the King could react, Sheemie Ruiz arrived and forced Roland from the Grapefruit. Roland and his ka-tet return to Gilead, but though they've reached the end of their long road home their journeys, the trials and the treachery—are just beginning. So swears the Crimson King. All hail the Crimson King.
Don't miss the next exciting chapter in the Dark Tower epic as TOWER: TREACHERY #1 hits stores on September 10! And be sure to check out Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born Premiere Hardcover, collecting the best-selling, critically acclaimed DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN #1-7, in stores now!
For more on DARK TOWER, please visit Stephen King's official site and Marvel.com's Dark Tower hub.