I've had Books 1-4 of this in my possession for years, but never got around to reading them. I've always thought of King's non-horror work (The Green Mile, The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, etc) as vastly superior to his (still quite good) horror stuff. And yet I never actually cracked open my copies of the Dark Tower books, despite hearing they were among his best.
Until not that long ago, my wife--who previously dismissed King as a horror writer who happened to luck into masterpieces like Shawshank Redemption and a few others--was at home for the day, with the cable not yet turned on and with none of our books unpacked that she'd not read. Except for The Gunslinger.
Within two weeks, she'd zipped through all four, the story from the Legends anthology, and even The Wolves of Calla (Book 5, which she convinced me to buy in hardback). So I had to see what was so intriguing.
I'm currently about halfway through Book 4 (Wizards & Glass) and am completely hooked! I've only got 1.5 books to read (not counting Salem's Lot, which I understand is a prerequisite to reading The Wolves of Calla) before Book 6 comes out in a couple of weeks. (Book 7 is coming out this autumn.)
This series has completely demolished all my expectations and really elevated my opinion of King. These are captivating, unique works full of enough allegory and symbolism to provide a small army of English majors with graduate theses. I'd say they're at least on par with Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, or the Chronicles of Narnia as far as epic series go. (Of course, being by King, they're a bit less family-friendly.)
Without spoiling too much. . . well, I have no idea how to sum up even the basic concept without spoiling anything. It's a mesh of post-apocalyptic sci-fi, fantasy, western, and about everything else.
If you've read the series, post your thoughts here. (But be nice. I've still got a few hundred pages to go. )
If not, run, don't walk--or, better yet, drive--to the nearest bookstore and pick up the five available books, along with the four tie-ins:
1: The Gunslinger
2: The Drawing of the Three
3: The Waste Lands
4: Wizards and Glass
5: The Wolves of Calla
The Eyes of the Dragon
"Go then, gunslinger. There are other worlds than these."