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Warning, big spoilers ahead! Please read this only if you already finished the books or don't plan to read them (which would be a shame ;)

Several times during his journey Roland knows things for sure but not knowing why he does. "I just know it". We clearly understand at the end that

as it's not the first (and not the last, the wheel of Ka turns...) iteration for Roland, he knows these things from his previous living of the story.
However, his companions doesn't seem to have this kind of inter-trip memory (unless I don't remember). Should we then deduct that it's the first occurrence of the trip for them (with the change from the previous trip being the three cards/doors?) or only Roland remembers partially as he's the only one entering the tower's last room?

Title of this question should have been something like

Is it the first trip for Roland's companions?

but it would have given too much for the ones reading the books.

3 Answers 3

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It has always been my (idea?, supposition?) that Roland was required to continue his trek to the Tower until he did it right. Right being from the Towers point of view. While his guns would give him access to the tower, (I will have to read again) he was supposed to present both guns AND the horn of Gilead to the Tower. As he did not do this on the iteration that we met and traveled with him and the Ka-Tet, he was forced to do it again (although lord knows how many times he has done it; 19?).

It is my belief that his lifelong experience with the mystical and arcane has opened him up to the perceptions of former travels. Recall that he muses on how well he might separate his himself from the distractions of his body when he was thirsty in the Desert ("had progressed through the khef over many years, and had reached the fifth level"). This makes me think that he is in many ways as much a monk as a knight. He has prepared his mind for things that Eddie, Jake, and Susannah have not. Additionally he has touched, and been touched by at least one Bend of the Rainbow, which I would daresay can likely do amazing and great (albeit terrible) things to a persons mind.

For me, his next iteration will have mostly the same people as previously, but now he will have an additional talisman at his call, and he may use it at the foot of the Dark Tower to some end.

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  • I don't remember in the book that he had to bring both guns and the horn to the tower. I asked a specific question about the horn here (scifi.stackexchange.com/q/3311/192) where you could then perhpas help as it's still itching not to have a clear answer for this! :)
    – LudoMC
    Mar 22, 2013 at 14:37
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    @LudoMC I have added an answer on that question. Mar 22, 2013 at 19:23
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I see that there are two possibilities:

1) The Tower is no longer under threat. Roland resets, but only some subset of reality does. Randall Flagg is still dead, this is a different man in black, and and this is a totally different sequence of events, with different companions.

2) The Tower is under threat again. Everything in creation resets. The Crimson King is alive again, Randall Flagg is alive again, the companions have never traveled with Roland. For the purposes of the next loop, none of it ever happened. This has two sub-possibilities:

A) The Tower is the center of reality. The Tower is under threat from multiple Crimson Kings in multiple realities, each unaware of the other. There is greater meta-depth to creation than ever suspected. Roland has (infinitely?) many Crimson Kings to defeat. This is a different Roland, living a slightly different life. This Roland will draw the three again, but slightly different versions of everyone. When is he done? When all the Towers are safe? Can that ever even happen? And why Roland?

B) Roland is the center of reality, and all creation bends around him, not around the Tower. The Tower is just a device in the real story, as are his companions. Perhaps Roland is still in Maerlyn's Grapefruit, and this is all an extended St. Elsewhere.

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  • Of course, if A is true, that means that the Stephen King character in the novel who wrote the end of book 7 knows about the multiple layers of reality. Unless, of course, he's also just a character written by some higher-level Stephen King... Jun 28, 2012 at 13:41
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I understood that yes, this was their first (and I assumed last, have no data to back that up though), turn in this story.

They were brought in to replace his childhood friends. Eddie was very like Cuthbert Allgood, Susannah & Jake reflected facets of other personalities Roland knew earlier in the story.

If Roland ever does achieve a "perfect score" in the story, I assumed he'd need his original friends with him at the end.

Update

I think that Eddie, Jake and Susanna get their particular endings (I don't want to spoil anything) means that they are done with their journey.

Perhaps Roland doesn't need his original friends with him, but the wheel will provide him companions like his original friends.

I realise much of this is supposition and personal opinion, sorry.

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