I finished the Dark Tower series recently and I was very intrigued by its in-universe culture, it didn't resemble anything I've encountered before.

First of all it was the 'forgetting your father's face' part, something quite unique. I've never seen such an emphasis on the father, just on the parents as a whole or on the mother.

Then we have some aspects of the older language, clearly resembling medieval English, with archaic words like 'thy'. But then there were terms like ka-tet, ka, todash that looked more asian-arabic, or mia, which was supposed to mean 'mother', which again sounds to come from a latin language.

The references to the knights, King Arthur and Merlin are easier one, making it clearly that he was inspired by the fantastic medieval stories and the author himself admitted to have written the book to be as epic as Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, but most of the universe looks like a very unique amalgam of cultural themes.

I understand the 'amalgam' part, since Dark Tower was meant to combine almost everything Stephen King had written, but is there a list of major motifs, themes and culture that inspired King?

2 Answers 2


The Dark Tower was influenced by a whole range of things though I wouldn't really describe any of them as a single "entity". A single culture wasn't really a major source of inspiration. As you mentioned it is a amalgamation of a lot different influences. The major influence is of course "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" a poem by Robert Browning written in 1855. As you mentioned, King cited Tolkien as a great inspiration. The character Roland shares a lot of traits from the movie trilogy "The Man With No Name". His habits and personality are closely mirrored. And so on... if you want a general list of major influences I'll advise looking at this page which gives a description of major influences.


I think the mash-up of cultures was meant to evoke in the reader's mind a world that at first seems completely alien, but also retains some parts that strike a familiar chord. I'm thinking here of random references to pop tunes like "Hey Jude," where in Roland's world the lyrics are slightly altered, or the use of personal references like "sai" ("divine" in Hindi, I think) and "Pere" (French for "Father," when referencing a priest).

The Tower books are an illustration that there are many universes out there, and each retains some element of the others. I think that if King found something he liked, a turn of phrase or something similar, he incorporated it into the Tower series.

  • Can you provide any sources from the novels to back up your theories?
    – Edlothiad
    May 30, 2017 at 19:10
  • Also you haven't quite answered the question of What cultures influenced SK in his writing of the series. Can you clarify you're answer, I can see there's a little hidden in there, but can you make it clearer?
    – Edlothiad
    May 30, 2017 at 19:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.