, son of Steven Deschain, was born in the fictional city of Gilead. Roland Deschain is throughout the series, the last gunslinger. He was endowed with the sole charge of finding the Dark Tower, in some hope of reversing the erosion of time and the universe. This quest means all to him. The success of the quest is more important than the life of his loved ones, family and friends.
As the series opens, he is portrayed chasing Walter, the Man in Black, across the fictional seemingly ever-expansive Mohaine Desert. He finds Jake Chambers, an 11 year old boy from 1970's New York City at a way station, and befriends him. Jake was walking down the street one day when someone pushed him under a Cadillac; then he woke up at a way-station in Mid-World and was quickly found by the gunslinger. Roland's relationship with Jake in The Gunslinger defines his personality: He can be friendly but is usually distant; he is wise and skilled but ignorant of our ways; he has no real sense of humor and is noble. However, he fails Jake—when confronted with the choice of saving Jake, who is dangling from a railroad trestle above an abyss, or finally confronting the Man in Black, he lets Jake fall. He catches up with Walter, the Man in Black, who tells Roland's fortune during a very long palaver, a discussion concerning great matters. Roland falls unconscious, to finally wake up next to what seems to be Walter's skeleton. He makes his way to a beach, where he is attacked by a swarm of bizarre lobster creatures (called lobstrosities, portmanteau of lobster and monstrosity). The creatures catch Roland sleeping, and with the tide having fully wetted his cartridges, they devour two fingers of his right hand, and the big toe of his right foot. These wounds become infected from the lobstrosities' toxic venom and Roland falls gravely ill.
Roland continues on his journey along the beach in search of (long term) the Tower and (short term) some care for his infections. The first thing he finds is neither, but happens a door on the beach. The door stands upright, is visible only from one side and opens into not just a very strange where, but a very strange when. The door proves to be some sort of magical wormhole, the first of which leads him to meet Eddie Dean.
Eddie makes his debut in The Drawing of the Three, in which Roland encounters three doors that open into New York City of our world in different times. Through these doors, he draws companions who will join him on his quest, as the Man In Black foretold. The first to be drawn is Eddie Dean, a drug addict and cocaine transporter. Eddie lived with his older brother and fellow junkie Henry, who Eddie revered despite the corrupting influence Henry had upon his life. Roland helps Eddie fight off a gang of mobsters for whom he was transporting cocaine, not before Eddie discovers that Henry has died from an overdose of heroin in the company of the aforementioned mobsters.
Eddie passes through the wormhole, into Roland's world, and faces horrible withdrawal symptoms, but also shows a strange affinity for the ways of the gunslinger. Unwillingly at first, and somewhat forcibly, Eddie becomes Roland's companion through Mid-World, and soon falls in love with Odetta Holmes, the next member of Roland's ka-tet. Eddie later dies from a shot in the head by Pimli Prentiss, the head of Algul Siento, and a servant of the Crimson King. He is the first of the ka-tet to die.
Also hailing from New York City, Susannah is an African-American woman with two major afflictions: her legs below the knees were severed in a subway accident, and a childhood head injury left her with dual personalities. She is "The Lady of Shadows", the second companion predicted by Walter to be drawn through the mysterious doors. Initially, her dominant personality is that of Odetta Holmes, a sweet, well-mannered woman active in the civil rights movement. In dark times, however, she is taken over by Detta Walker, a murderously psychotic but incredibly crafty woman whom neither Eddie nor Roland can control.
The third door leads to New York in the mid-1970s. Here Roland finds himself inside the mind of "The Pusher", a sadistic psychopath named Jack Mort whose callous acts of random violence have shaped the lives of Roland's companions. When Odetta was five, Mort dropped a brick on her head (which led to the emergence of her multiple personalities); he also pushed Odetta in front of a subway car when she was a teenager (not knowing or caring that she was previously a victim of his cruelty); on this day in question he is planning to shove a young boy (who turns out to be Jake Chambers) into traffic. Unable to let Jake die once again through his inaction, Roland takes control of Mort's body and stops him, then later forces him to throw himself in front of a subway train. In the midst of this struggle, Roland manages to trick Detta into looking through the door, which forces her to acknowledge her dual personalities. The two successfully merge, yielding the true third party member, Susannah Dean.
Susannah, the sole survivor of Roland's second Ka-Tet, leaves his world for an alternate New York where another Eddie and another Jake are waiting for her. Roland continues to the Dark Tower, accompanied only by the billy-bumbler Oy and The Artist, Patrick Danville.
Jake is the symbolic 'son' of Roland. He is originally from New York, circa 1970, and is 'pushed' into Roland's world by the Man in Black, who Jake sees as Walter but we later found out is Jack Mort. Jake's real name is John, but he prefers to be known by his nickname only.
The eleven-year-old boy Roland left to die reappears in The Wastelands due to a paradox. Since Roland prevented Mort from shoving Jake into traffic, he never appeared in Mid-World, and was never left to die under the mountains. Jake and Roland, however, can remember both timelines, and the knowledge is slowly driving them insane.
In the first half of The Wastelands, Roland's ka-tet figure out a way to draw Jake into Mid-world where he belongs. Eddie obsessively whittles a key out of wood as they approach another door, this one set into the ground and guarded by an invisible demon. Susannah distracts the demon by allowing it to copulate with her, while Eddie perfects the key and opens the door. On the other side, Jake has been drawn into an abandoned house filled with evil spirits, but fights through it (with a bit of timely assistance from Roland) to reach the door. Once in Mid-World again, Roland's and Jake's memories are corrected and their journey into insanity abated. Unfortunately, Susannah will pay the price for her distraction of the spirit.
While crossing the desolate city of Lud, Roland finds that he may have to sacrifice Jake again to ensure their safe passage. Despite the danger, however, he rescues Jake, reaffirming the father-son bond that has grown between them. Like Eddie and Susannah, Jake eventually becomes a full-fledged gunslinger.
Jake is caught in a car collision saving Stephen King in Bangor, Maine, and he is killed shortly thereafter. Roland buries him in the woods nearby.
On the road to Lud, the group finds a wounded "billy-bumbler". These animals are described as looking like a cross between a racoon and a dog, with a corkscrew-spiral tail. When Jake first sees the bumbler, he calls "Come here, boy," and the animal mimicks the sound with "Oy". The bumbler is friendly and intelligent -- Roland explains that it used to be common for billy-bumblers to speak and even be able to perform simple math -- and Jake decides to call him Oy, after the first word they heard him say. Seemingly a mere pet at first, Oy proves to be strangely helpful and nearly human at times. Roland concedes that Oy may quite possibly be meant as another member of their Ka-Tet.Oy dies valiantly while fighting Mordred Deschain in the final book, The Dark Tower.
Susan Delgado appears in "Wizard and Glass", the fourth book of the series. When Roland is sent away from Gilead by his father, he meets Susan Delgado. Her father was killed in a horseback riding "accident", and Susan is being forced by her aunt to be the gilly-girl (concubine) of the mayor of her town. Before she is to sleep with the mayor, she falls in love with Roland and plans to run away with him. Accused of killing the mayor, she is burned at the stake by the townspeople and her aunt. At the time, she is pregnant with Roland's first child. Roland admits that Susan Delgado was (and in many ways, still is) the love of his life.
THE MAN IN BLACK
Also known as the Ageless Stranger, Walter O'Dim, Marten Broadcloak and Randall Flagg; he appears in many books of Stephen King, including The Eyes of the Dragon and The Stand, always as a nearly-demonic sorcerer. He is the Crimson King's chief agent, but secretly plots to rule the tower himself. This evil figure knows dark magic and uses it to spread chaos. He has destroyed civilizations, lead numerous violent factions, and killed his way to ruling kingdoms, the whole time serving the Crimson King. His true name is Walter Padick, but he has taken many aliases, among them Randall Flagg. Flagg is a central character in another sprawling King novel, "The Stand." In this tale, he is also called "The Dark Man", and knows much about Roland, his history, and his quest for the Dark Tower. Walter is eaten alive by Mordred Deschain, Roland's bastard, half-spider son. Walter also, in the course of the series, reveals himself to be Marten Broadcloak, Chief advisor to Steven Deschain, Roland's father, and lover to Gabrielle Deschain, Roland's mother. This is significant as Marten Broadcloak is also revealed to be either John Farson (the Good Man)himself, or an ally of his. In goading Roland into his early test of manhood, Walter O'Dim (who actually returns to advise Roland's father under this name, with a slightly altered appearance, after Marten's mysterious disappearance) has sowed the seeds of his own undoing. Not, of course, before wiping out all of the gunslingers except for Roland in a massive civil war against Farson.
Walter's tenacity and slipperiness are inhuman; in The Stand he is exposed to a nuclear explosion but escapes to wreak havoc elsewhere via some sort of magic; in The Eyes of the Dragon he is shot through the eye with Foe-Hammer, yet escapes and lives. Even under Roland's own gun, he managed to disappear in Wizard and Glass. Though it seems he met his final end between the jaws of Mordred Deschain, it is contested between fans of the series whether or not he is really dead, though the accepted canon is that Mordred saw to his end.
THE CRIMSON KING
The ultimate in evil, this mysterious figure wishes to conquer the Dark Tower and raze it to the ground. Since this will destroy nearly the entire universe, he is naturally cast as the villain in The Dark Tower books. He is also present in another Stephen King book, Insomnia, and a King-Peter Straub collaboration known as Black House. He is also known as Ram Aballah, and once ruled from his castle in Thunderclap, but now is imprisoned on a balcony on the Dark Tower. He believes that when the Tower falls, he will rule the Todash darkness that was once the multiverse. He is the one whom Walter/Flagg serves, whom the low men and taheen serve, and has opposed Roland of Gilead from the beginning. Like Roland, he is descended from Arthur Eld, but there is speculation among Tower fans whether or not he and Arthur Eld are the same individual.This is noted in the fifth book, when Susannah enters the dixie pig, she is confronted by a room full of low men and Taheen, who are eating roasted babies. As she looks around the room, she is also confronted with a tapestry depicting Arthur Eld eating the leg of a baby at the Round Table.
An invading spirit who possesses Susannah Dean's body in Wolves of the Calla. Originally an immortal spirit similar to a succubus, she saw and fell in love with a baby. After a plague ravaged the town of Fedic and the child was taken away, Mia struck a bargain with Walter/Flagg. If she would give up her formless immortality, Walter would give her a baby. Mia's purpose in Walter and the Crimson King's plan is to bear Roland's child; prophecy has foretold that this child will be Roland's doom.
The child Mia called her "chap" was being carried by Susannah, who became pregnant with Roland's seed from the demon she copulated with in "The Waste Lands", during Jake's Drawing. The demon, a hermaphrodite able to change its sex at will, had copulated with Roland as a female in a previous volume while Roland protected Jake and queried it for information. The demon had somehow preserved Roland's seed and impregnated Susannah with it. Mia possessed Susannah in order to take over the birthing of her "chap".
This concept is similar to that of IVF. Roland's sperm is stored by the demon and "delivered" to Susannah, without either's consent.
Mia is killed by her child, Mordred, shortly after giving birth.
Son of two fathers and two mothers, Mordred was born of Susannah's egg fertilized by the seed of both Roland of Gilead and the Crimson King (via the demon encountered while drawing Jake into the world), and carried to term by Mia. Mordred is half-human, half-god, and if his fate is fulfilled, he will both kill Roland (one of his fathers) and topple the Dark Tower itself. His wisdom and power is nigh-immeasurable; Walter O'Dim died in an attempt to make Mordred his puppet, and the boy still managed to hunt Roland down for numberless miles less than a week after his birth.
However, neither the seers nor fate itself could protect Mordred from the death of magic in Mid-World as the Tower falters. Mordred becomes deathly ill after eating spoiled horse meat, and is slain by Roland at the threshold of the Dark Tower.
THE LOW MEN
(Can-toi, Fayen Folken)
First introduced in "Low Men in Yellow Coats", these soldiers of the Crimson King are half-taheen and half human. Richard P. Sayre is a prominent Low Man in the Dark Tower Series. They also appear in Black House by King and Peter Straub, as well as in Hearts in Atlantis, as the malevolent pursuers of Ted Brautigan.
Taheen resemble humans with the heads of animals. They are in charge of Devar-toi and the Can-toi and are the servants of the Crimson King. The Taheen, much in the same way as humans, have a choice in their destiny, thus they can be good or evil. Their exact origin, however, remains a mystery.
PERE DONALD CALLAHAN
Callahan is the "damned" priest who appeared in the novel 'Salem's Lot
. He makes his first appearance in the Dark Tower series in "Wolves of the Calla". After escaping death by vampire, Father Callahan spends time in a homeless shelter that he later runs. His partner in running the shelter, who is also the object of Callahan's love, is given AIDS by a vampire. Callahan has made it his life's work since Jerusalem's Lot to eliminate such vampires. He enters Mid-World, then arrives at the Way Station from the beginning of The Gunslinger. Readers don't find this out until they read the Wolves of the Calla. He assists the ka-tet in the Battle against the Wolves, helps Susannah's rescue mission from 1999 New York, and makes his final stand in The Dark Tower VII against the can-toi (low men) and vampires. Callahan kills himself before allowing himself to fall at the hands of the vampires in the Dixie Pig; this diversion allows Jake to escape.
RICHARD PATRICK SAYRE
The leader of the can-toi and the head of the Sombra Corportation, Sayre is the individual who lured Callahan to his death in 1983. He is the one who witnesses Mordred's birth in the Extraction Room at the Arc 16 Experimental Station in Fedic, and he meets his end when he is shot twice in the back of the head (once for Mia, once for Pere Callahan) by Susannah.
Jack Andolini is a New York gangster and affiliate of Enrico Balazar, whom readers first met in The Drawing of the Three . In that novel, in 1987, while trying to kill Eddie, he followed Eddie and Roland into Mid-World and met his death by the hands of the lobstrosities. However, he reappears in Wolves of the Calla as a representative of the Sombra Corporation, in 1977. When Roland and Eddie enter the Maine of 1977, Andolini and his gang ambush them at the East Stoneham General Store. This version of Andolini, however, meets a not so horrible fate: in The Dark Tower, he is imprisoned in a Maine county jail.
Ted Stevens Brautigan (19 letters), was first written of in the Stephen King novella Low Men in Yellow Coats from Hearts in Atlantis
. He is a powerful breaker, a psychic, whose extraordinary powers as a "facilitator" are sought by the Crimson King so he can hasten the destruction of the beams and Dark Tower. Ted arrived in the Devar-Toi, the prison where the Breakers are held, in 1955, and thanks to Roland's old friend from Mejis, Sheemie Ruiz, Ted escapes the Devar-Toi and enters the Connecticut of 1960, which is when the story of LMIYC takes place. After his adventure in Connecticut, the low men capture and smuggle him via the Dixie Pig and Thunderclap Station and back to the Devar-Toi. He meets Roland and his ka-tet in the final novel of the series, and he, Everything's Eventual's Dinky Earshaw and the teleport Sheemie, assist the ka-tet in the attack on the Devar-Toi and they ultimately succeed in obliterating the low men and the taheen. After Roland, Jake, and Oy travel to the Maine of 1999 to prevent their ka' ska Gan Stephen King from dying, Ted and his friends escort Susannah Dean to Fedic Station, and they depart for the Callas, where they hope to return to America via the Doorway Cave.
Sheemie in Wizard and Glass, was a mildly retarded tavern boy at a saloon in Hambry. Sheemie assisted Roland and his original ka-tet in preventing the followers of John Farson, and more specifically, the Crimson King, from reviving the Great Old Ones' war machines. Sheemie joined Roland's ka-tet briefly and helped the gunslingers ward off the Crimson King's followers until he and his mule Capi mysteriously disappeared. However, while Roland assumes Sheemie is dead, he is not; he had been captured by the low men and taken to the Devar-Toi, the Breaker prison, because of his telepathic abilities. He reappears in the series' final novel and assists the ka-tet in defeating the low men and the taheen. However, after the battle, he stepped on a piece of glass, causing an infection (accelerated by the "poison air" around Thunderclap). While escorting Susannah to Fedic on the train, he dies.
Richard "Dinky" Earnshaw is the psychic assassin from Stephen King's short story Everything's Eventual. He was hired by a man named Mr. Sharpton who was the head of a North Central Positronics subsidiary. However, when Dink discovered what Sharpton was truly using him for, he killed Sharpton. Unfortunately, the low men captured him and transported him to the Devar-Toi, where he later met Ted Brautigan and Sheemie Ruiz. The three joined forces with Roland and his ka-tet in the final novel of the series and they defeated the Devar's warriors.