The two authoritative analyses of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series claim that the Crimson King was "tower-pent" - that is, trapped on a balcony outside the Tower itself - because he had removed a sigul of Eld from his body:

Bev Vincent's The Road to the Dark Tower asserts that the sigul was on the Crimson King's heel:

Mordred’s Red father used to bear the same mark on his heel, but he scorched it off, thereby imprisoning himself on one of the Tower’s balconies.
- The Road to the Dark Tower: Exploring Stephen King's Magnum Opus, Bev Vincent


In a fit of rage, he scorched the red mark from his heel and without a sigul of Eld he can’t get back in.
- ibid

Whereas Robin Furth's The Complete Concordance suggests that the sigul was "probably" on the Crimson King's back:

Although he probably originally had an hourglass-shape on his back (a sigul which Mordred still has and which is the dan-tete’s key to the Dark Tower) somehow or other, the Red King managed to destroy his. Hence, he cannot enter the Tower proper without some sigul of the ELD—either his half-son’s mark or Roland’s guns.
- Stephen King's The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance, Robin Furth

I don't doubt that these thorough analyses are correct about the Crimson King having had a sigul at some point and destroying it, but I have tried to find the quote(s) that describe it, but have had no success.

Where in the Dark Tower series does King meant the fate of the Crimson King's sigul?

Note: I'm hoping for an answer that provides the quote itself, as well as the book and chapter.

1 Answer 1


The Crimson King did share Mordred's sigul

Was that not what had brought him to the Crimson King in the first place? Yes. And it wasn’t his fault that the great scuttering spider-king had run mad.

Never mind. Here was his son with the same mark on his heel—Walter could see it at this very moment—and everything balanced.

— Walter o' Dim, The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Part Two, Chapter III: The Shining Wire

I read this as implying that the Crimson King and Mordred have (or had) the same mark, not necessarily on their heel. Indeed, Mordred later realizes that the mark he needs was on the belly of Mordred's spider-form. I suspect that Furth meant "belly" instead of "back," or perhaps the location was different in some early draft. This resolves the apparent contradiction between Bev Vincent and Robin Furth: sometimes the mark is on his heel, other times on his belly.

And I suppose that Mordred (and the Crimson King) thought that this sigul was equivalent to that of Eld for the purposes of the Tower.

He had that long to reach the Tower with Mordred Deschain’s birthmarked, amputated foot in his gunna…to open the door at the bottom and mount those murmuring stairs…to bypass the trapped Red King.

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Part 2, Chapter III: The Shining Wire

Then certainly the Crimson King must have lost his sigul at some point, otherwise Walter O'Dim would not have believed that the sigul could get him to the top of the Tower, if the Crimson King could be trapped with it.

However, entering the Tower does not require a sigul of Eld; reaching the top does

“We have reason to believe that he’s been shunted onto a balcony of the Tower,” Roland said. “Un-dead or not, he never could have gained the top without some sigul of the Eld; surely if he knew so much prophecy, then he knew that.”

Fimalo was smiling grimly. “Aye, but as Horatio held the bridge in a story told in Susannah’s world, so Los’, the Crimson King, now holds the Tower. He has found his way into its mouth but cannot climb to the top, ’tis true. Yet while he holds it hard, neither can you.”

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Part 4, Chapter III: The Castle of the Crimson King

Roland believes that a sigul of the Eld is needed only to reach the top, not merely to enter the Tower. Further, he believes that this would cause the King to be shunted onto a balcony, as a way of preventing him from reaching the top. It would not be necesary for him to burn off any sigul he might have in order to be shunted onto a balcony.

Of course, with a sigul of Eld he can (apparently) achieve his aim, and reach the top of the tower.

“But if you go on,” said Fimalo, “you bring to him the siguls of the Eld he needs to gain possession of that which now holds him captive.”

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Part 4, Chapter III: The Castle of the Crimson King

In any case, we should strongly suspect that the sigul is irrelevant:

As Father Callahan says

I need no sigul. Not the potter but the potter's clay, and I need no sigul!

The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah

In the series, as I recall, no one reached the top of the Tower that Gan would not have wanted to, sigul or no. This could be mere coincidence, but I think it is more likely intentional.

This is the canon answer: the Crimson King had a sigul, he lost it, we don't know how. He thought it could get him to the top of the tower, but maybe it couldn't.

What actually happened to the mark?

It was destroyed. Beyond that, we don't know. As I mention in my other answer, Bev Vincent had access to various pre-publication drafts of King's last three Dark Tower books. On the other hand, as his research assistant Robin Furth probably had access to drafts of all the books at least from Wizard and Glass onwards.

It is quite possible that in a pre-publication version of the final book, one of the quotes that I mentioned indicated that the Crimson King scorched off his mark. However, as previously mentioned, that would not stop him from entering the Tower, merely reaching its pinnacle. It is possible, though, that the rules were a bit different in some previous draft, or that Roland misunderstands how things work.

  • This corresponds to what Robin Furth told me the other day: "In an earlier version of THE DARK TOWER, there was more info on the Crimson King. (Just a sentence or two.) I think it was cut from the final version!"
    – Wad Cheber
    Apr 13, 2016 at 23:18
  • We're FB friends.
    – Wad Cheber
    Apr 13, 2016 at 23:47

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