Re: Ending of the Dark Tower Series
It sounds like a few people have the original Gunslinger and the revised edition confused. Personally, the revised edition seems more like book 8 than anything else. It helps me cope with the perplexing ending.
I think it is obvious what happened at the end of The Dark Tower. He is doomed to repeat his quest until (most likely) he can blow his horn at the foot of the tower. I agree with the general consensus of this forum that he obtained his horn by some act of redemption through this life.
I think a good way to look at this book is through the lens of Buddhism, although this is probably not the way King looked at it. In Buddhism, life is an endless cycle of suffering (known as Samsara). This suffering exists because the sufferer has desires. In Roland's case, his desire is the Dark Tower. In order to free oneself from this endless cycle and achieve Nirvana, one must live a life free from desires. If they live honorable lives, they are reborn with an opportunity to live in a state that is potentially closer to obtain Nirvana.
I believe such is the case with Roland. He has learned to love and feel compassion (although it is difficult to say how much love he learned from his previous reincarnations--King implies there are numerous ones). But we definitely see him grow from book 1 to 7. And we see that he is more compassionate about those left behind in book 8. After book 7, this might even be in 19th time to make this journey. That would make sense.
I think the question we should all be trying to answer here, is not what happened at the end of The Dark Tower, because that is obvious. But rather what is going to happen when he is able to blow his horn at the foot of the Tower. I would like to say that the Tower crumbles and every existence dies. It is a rather grim outlook, but it is consistent with what he says when he first sees in the Tower within the pink ball in Book 4. In reality, I think Roland would just drop dead, with a smile on his face. He learns love, learns compassion and is finally able to free himself from his endless life of suffering. Of course that is inconsistent with what I previously said, because his desire for the Tower is still there. Maybe with his next incarnation, he leaves with Oy through the door the Artist draws.
But, yes, I think King copped out on the ending. It's BS that he tells us to appreciate the journey more than the end, because when you make a book series that spans 34 years, all the while talking about what is at the top of the Tower, the constant readers will undoubtedly want to know what is at the top of the damn Tower. Plus, I'm not a writer. He is. I don't want to make up my own ending for someone else' work. That is just lazy writing.
edit: Apparently King goes into much detail about the Crimson King, young Roland and his intentions for the Dark Tower in the graphic novels he made. In case you don't know about them, they were written by King and created by Marvel Comics. They detail what happened after Mejis all the way up to the battle at Jericho Hill. I have not read them yet, a coworker did, but I wouldn't let him tell me anything about them.