The Gunslinger is apparently the most atypical book of the series. King himself notes in the forward that it was originally written decades before the other books when he was a very young man, and therefore has a very different feel / tone than the subsequent books. But it had just enough details about the alternate universe in which the story takes place -- both its past (which seemed to be similar to our 'present' -- or King's present when he was writing in the 70s) and its present, which is supposed to be in the far future -- to tantalize my interest and make me want to know more, see how it all connects.
I found book #2, The Drawing of the Three, to be the hardest to get through of the three I've read so far, in that it was clearly just setup for the rest of the series. Not that much happened as far as traditional plot was concerned, and it took awhile for me as the reader to catch up to what was going on.
The third book in the series, The Waste Lands, really started to bring it all together. We started to really learn about the Gunslinger's world and much more detail about how it connects with ours, a connection that was established in the earlier two books. This was the book where I really felt like the series started to gain ground, that the foundation of the world and the story had been established in books #1-2 and events finally started to take place in book #3. I am now eager to continue with the series and follow the Gunslinger and his companions through his strange, scary (but not too scary) world, just in time for the upcoming movie and TV adaptations (which are apparently sequels to the entire series).
"If you fell outward to the limit of the universe, would you find a board fence and signs reading DEAD END? No. You might find something hard and rounded, as the chick must see the egg from the inside. And if you should peck though the shell (or find a door), what great and torrential light might shine through your opening at the end of space? Might you look through and discover our entire universe is but part of one atom on a blade of grass? Might you be forced to think that by burning a twig you incinerate an eternity of eternities? That existence rises not to one infinite but to an infinity of them?" (The Gunslinger)
Keep reading! Beth