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#1 | Back to Top07-19-2013 01:59:13 PM

Atropos Turretslayer
From: Hampden College
Registered: 10-22-2011
Posts: 907

Character Comparison: Akio/Roland Deschain (DT spoilers)

In the past, I compared Akio to Randall Flagg, the antagonist of the Stephen King novel The Stand. However, upon completing The Dark Tower, I have decided that Roland Deschain, the protagonist of that book, makes a far better counterpart to our favorite bastard.

Both Akio and Roland are the last remnants of bygone ages. Akio belongs to 'the age of myth', when the world was a fairy tale and there really was a Prince who could save everyone. Roland is the last gunslinger of Gilead, whose own fall caused the world to move on. In both cases, there is a divide between the world before the fall and the world after the fall. In SKU, this is not explicit, but there's no historical era that could have accommodated the existence Dios, so the implication is that his disappearance led to the creation of our own mundane world. In DT, the world is literally falling to pieces, and only the quest for the Tower can save it.

Moreover, both are willing to sacrifice anything for their individual quests. There's nothing and no one Akio wouldn't do to keep the dueling game running. He acts like he's very concerned over Utena's problems, but in the end she and all the other duelists are just another set of pawns in his endless game. The same goes for Roland. In the very first book, he allows Jake Chambers to fall to his death rather than risk losing his only lead to the Tower. As the books go on, it is emphasized that his obsession has rendered him all but inhuman; there's no one he would help if the alternative would be to advance his quest.

Finally, they both find themselves caught in an endless loop after they reach their goal. No matter how many times either man reaches the end of their quest, the Rose Gate will never open, and the door named Roland will never lead to anywhere but the desert. Despite this, they both ramble on and on, doomed to repeat their quests but with no way out of it.

What is the difference between them? What makes one the hero, and the other a villain? It's simple. Roland is supernaturally bound to his quest; as a descendant of Arthur (yes, that Arthur), he is destined to reach the Tower. In the end, it literally pulls him towards it. He has no choice but to continue his quest. Akio, on the other hand, chooses not to advance. If he really wanted to revolutionize the world, he'd do something other than throw swords at a brick wall. Roland is sympathetic for the same reasons Anthy is (more) sympathetic than Akio: whatever evil he does, it is at least understandable considering what's happened to him/.



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