After years of anticipation, rumors, and theories, the first trailer for the upcoming Stephen King epic, The Dark Tower, has now arrived and is already causing quite a stir. For longtime fans of the books, the trailer offers numerous hints, clues, Easter eggs, and references to several books in the series. But for those who are new to the Dark Tower mythos, and are starting this journey with fresh eyes, this trailer offers a first look at the sprawling multiverse that is widely regarded as King’s magnum opus.
As any trailer should do, this one leaves the viewer with many questions. Foremost among them: exactly what is this so-called “Dark Tower?” Sure, it’s obviously some sort of tall, black, skyscraper-like monolith, and apparently keeping it from toppling it down is really, really important, but why?
Well, we’ve got answers. The mystery of the Dark Tower’s meaning, origin, and intricacies are a huge story element throughout the book series, and some of its finer features are as much metaphorical as they are literal. But for now, we can delve into the basics, and explain why the Dark Tower itself is so important within the storyline.
The Dark Tower is the Nexus of All Realities
As those who have seen the trailer have probably gathered by now, the The Dark Tower series deals with alternate dimensions, realities, and worlds. But it isn’t as simple as the notion that there is “our world” and “Roland’s world.” No, within this series there is an entire multiverse, with millions upon millions of different realities. In fact, every Stephen King novel ever written exists somewhere within this kaleidoscope of universes.
The Dark Tower is the anchor point of all these realities. It’s the center of every world, every timeline, everything.
The Tower stands tall in a field of roses called Can’-Ka No Rey, and only has one door. Every floor is a different reality. Somewhere at the very top floor, it is believed that God — or “Gan,” as it is called in Roland’s world — resides. It’s not easy to find the Tower, since it the nexus of all worlds. It’s so difficult to find that Roland’s been pursuing it for almost his entire life. If the Tower were to fall, it would mean the end of all reality, all existence, all life. One would think that this would be a clear reason to keep it standing. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way.
The Tower is Supported By Beams, and Each Beam Has a Guardian
One thing the trailer did show was a brief glimpse at how the Dark Tower seems to emit these paths of light, which stretch out far into the clouds. These creatively referred to as the “beams,” and they are the force that keeps the Tower standing. The beams stretch out across the multiverse, and each beam is protected by a guardian animal. For example, in the third book, The Waste Lands, Roland and his friends encounter a building-sized cyborg bear named Shardik, who is one of these guardians.
It said often said that “all things serve the beam.” When one is walking on the path of a beam, one will notice that trees grow in its direction, clouds move towards it, birds turn to fly along it.
Here’s the scary thing: the beams hold the tower up, and there are dark forces at work who want to send the tower crashing down. To do this, they are slowly tearing down the beams. When a beam is destroyed, the effects are apocalyptic to whatever worlds that beam falls upon; this was a major factor in why Roland’s world became so desolate.
To break the beams, these dark forces of the universe employ (or enslave) people with psychic abilities, whom they call “Breakers.” When working in unison, these Breakers not only can destroy a beam, but have already done so, successfully. And when the last one falls, there goes the Dark Tower… and eventually reality itself.