During the Stephen King's 'Dark Tower' series, a main antagonist, the Crimson King, is portrayed as an enormously powerful being, capable of destroying the whole multiverse:

"I am the Eater of Worlds"

However, when Roland finally meets the Crimson King,

he turns out to be an old man with a white beard and red eyes, who fights by throwing grenades from his prison in the Tower.

Isn't this a bit disappointing? Did Stephen King have any special reason to present him in this way? Did he ever explain it in interviews, or in other books?

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    @phantom42 - I'm convinced that King stopped writing books a couple of decades ago and that his books are ghost-written by his publishing company.
    – Valorum
    Aug 1, 2014 at 19:38
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    @Richard I wouldn't say so. They would hire some skilled ghost writer at least.
    – Kao
    Aug 1, 2014 at 19:51
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    @phantom42: Personally I believe it's a combination of reaction to fans rage and threats that he might die before he finished it, and his brush with death when he was hit by a truck and seriously injured. I think he finished the books as quickly as he could, and the various unstaisfactory endings are a f**k you to his fans. Also, consider that King is master of suspense, but he can't end a book for toffee. With rare exceptions, the conclusion of his novels and short stories simply aren't well put together. (All IMHO of course) Aug 7, 2014 at 7:58
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3 Answers 3


The Stephen King wiki provides the explanation:

His sanity soon begins to deteriorate, and as it begins to worsen, he kills his minions and even himself. As a result, he becomes undead, and imune to Roland's bullets. He finally reaches the Tower but becomes trapped on one of its balconies.

He finally confronts Roland and Patrick in the climax of the last book in the Dark Tower series. He has become powerless, but has grenade-like weapons which he throws at them.

So the Crimson King was once all-powerful, but this power deteriorates (this is seen in other King novels Insomnia and Talisman's sequel Black House as well) and by the time Roland gets to confront him it's gone.

Of course, since the Dark Tower is in a time-loop, and since Roland's next journey is going to be different (since he hasn't lost the Horn of Eld), who's to say what's going to happen then?

  • The Crimson King is appart of the time-loop: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/47121/21650
    – Magno C
    Oct 15, 2014 at 16:07
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    @MagnoC - yes, but next time around he may not lose his power. Remember - it's going to be different for Roland (Horn of Eld) so why should it not also be different for other characters too?
    – user8719
    Mar 13, 2015 at 19:08
  • Agree. And standing outside of time-loop, he knows what Roland will do. Like a person who listen the same movie time after time. It may boring the C.K.... So I ask you: Has the C.K. trapped himself purposely at start of the very first loop or every loop he will "listen" he goes to be trapped in the Dark Tower and vanishing at loop`s end just to start over again? He is appart of time-loop but need to follow the "script" ?
    – Magno C
    Mar 14, 2015 at 21:53

Ok, so lots of valid points and I am not here to argue for or against any. I would like to propose a theory, In the novel "It" by Mr. King the protagonist turned out to be a giant omnipotent spider, just as the greatest foe Roland has ever known,

“I am eternal, child. I am the eater of worlds, and of children. And you are next!”

Penny Wise and the Crimson King are one and the same. Now this would fit perfectly with the tone set by Mr. King himself. Almost every major work and quite a few of the lesser works all tie in to the Dark Tower series. This first became apparent, even to a child, in "Wizard and Glass" with our heroes' trip through the landscape of "The Stand".

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    King said that penny wise and the Crimson King are NOT the same character... But did say they might be of the same species.
    – Pat
    Feb 12, 2017 at 13:10

I am not entirely sure. I don't know why, but I got the idea that the Crimson King was Santa...hah

Anyway, I think part of the Crimson King's end happened when the breakers were stopped. The power that the Crimson King was drawing on was interrupted. Then, when the CK approached the tower, and was unable to enter, he lost whatever grip on the 'real world' he had. I got the impression he was manic, starved and exposed to too much weather. He was fading.

Honestly, I was more disappointed by Roland's child's ending.

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    Have you any quotes or links you can use to back up your answer? Aug 7, 2014 at 8:26

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