|The Crimson King|
|The Dark Tower character|
The Crimson King as illustrated by Michael Whelan.
|Last appearance||The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower (in chronological sequence)|
|Created by||Stephen King|
The Red King
The Red King
Lord of Discordia
Lord of Spiders
|Occupation||Leader of the Random|
|Relatives||Arthur Eld (father)
Crimson Queen (mother)
Mordred Deschain (son)
Randall Flagg (cousin)
Wizard's Rainbow (cousin)
Roland Deschain (29th-generation half-nephew)
The Crimson King, known to some as Los' or Ram Abbalah, is a fictional character created by Stephen King. He is the primary antagonist of King's eight-volume Dark Tower series, as well as the novels Insomnia and Black House. Described as "Gan's crazy side", the Crimson King is the ultimate ruler of the Red (also called the Random and the Outer Dark), and the archetypal embodiment of evil in Stephen King's fictional multiverse. His goal is to topple the Dark Tower which serves as the linchpin of time and space, destroying the multitude of universes which revolve around it so that he can rule in the primordial chaos which follows.
According to the Dark Tower comics, the Crimson King was the bastard offspring of Arthur Eld, a legendary gunslinger, and the Crimson Queen, a demonic creature of the Prim – the chaotic primordial void from which the Dark Tower, and all universes, arose. With the aid of the wizard Maerlyn, the Crimson Queen took on human form and deceived Arthur Eld to achieve this union. The protagonist of the series, Roland Deschain, is himself a distant descendant of Eld; this makes the Crimson King a half-uncle of Roland, albeit through many generations. This is the key through which Roland can defeat the King, as stated in a prophecy laid out during the course of the series. In the one-shot comic The Dark Tower: The Sorcerer, Randall Flagg and the Pink Grapefruit (one of the thirteen Bends o' the Rainbow) refer to the Crimson King as their cousin.
The Crimson King is introduced in the Stephen King novel Insomnia, where he is depicted as a powerful and mysterious entity that forces others to do his bidding. He seeks to kill a child named Patrick Danville who is prophesied to aid in bringing the King down; he is defeated during a confrontation with that novel's protagonist, Ralph Roberts. He makes his next appearance at the end of Black House, where he is revealed to be responsible for the events of that novel and is seen to have been weakened by the actions of protagonist Jack Sawyer and his allies. In the Dark Tower novels, the King is revealed to be behind the destruction of the beams that hold up the Dark Tower which holds reality and all of the universes together. He is shown to have gone insane and his intentions are not quite clear beyond that he wishes to destroy the Tower and possibly rule the darkness that would follow. He rules from the lands of Discordia and, as his insanity worsens, he kills nearly everyone in his employ and even kills himself. He thus becomes undead and possibly immune to Roland's guns. He reaches the tower before Roland, but is trapped on a balcony on one of its lower levels. When Roland finally meets the King at the climax of the final Dark Tower novel, he appears as an old man with a white beard and blood-red eyes who throws grenades from his imprisonment in the Tower. As previously predicted, Roland and Patrick Danville bring about the Crimson King's downfall. Patrick captures the King's image with his supernatural artistic abilities, using a mixture of Roland's blood and a rose's petals to finish the drawing; then he erases the King from existence, forever banishing him to some other world, or to the todash space between the worlds. Only his red eyes remain, trapped eternally on the balcony of the Tower.
However, the series ends with Roland being transported back in time to the Mohaine desert to repeat his quest from the beginning, this time with the Horn of Eld. The final line of the series reveals that the deceased Randall Flagg is alive once more. The Crimson King's status in this altered reality is uncertain.
The Crimson King has taken many forms throughout the series. In The Dark Tower VI, Susannah tells Mia that, in her world, people see the Crimson King as a horned, red-skinned monster called Satan. As evidenced in Insomnia, the Crimson King is a shapeshifter; like the titular creature in It, he takes the form most terrifying to whoever confront him. When he is injured by Ralph Roberts, he reverts first to a handsome, blonde man, and then to a creature Ralph is unable to see properly, suggesting that his true form cannot be comprehended by human beings. When he finally appears near the end of the Dark Tower series, the Crimson King has the appearance of an old man with white hair and one fang, but in the comics he appears both as a monstrous entity with spiderlike characteristics much like his son Mordred, as well as a bald man with a large tusk or horn on his head. Throughout all of his appearances his one defining characteristic is his blood red eyes, which fascinate anyone who looks into them. Patrick Danville also mentions that the King fades in and out of view due to his transcendent magical powers.
The Crimson King prefers to work from behind the scenes. His sigil, a glaring red eye, is seen throughout each of the books in which he has appeared. He employs other people to do his bidding, as well as numerous supernatural beings, including Atropos, Mr. Munshun, Dandelo, Randall Flagg, John Farson, and various vampires, low men, and taheen.
Inspiration for the character
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King drew inspiration for the Crimson King from the 1969 song and album In the Court of the Crimson King by British progressive rock band King Crimson. The name of the album appears in Insomnia to signify the protagonist's entry into the Crimson King's realm.
In other King works
- The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah, 10th Stanza: Susannah-Mio, Divided Girl of Mine, Seventeen
- David, Peter (w), Lee, Jae (p). The Dark Tower: The Long Road Home (2008-07-02), Marvel Comics
- Furth, Robin (w), Isanove, Richard (p). The Dark Tower: The Sorcerer (2009-04-15), Marvel Comics
- The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, Part Two: Susan, Chapter V: Welcome to Town, 2
- The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower, Chapter III: The Castle of the Crimson King, Three
- "The Book Spoiler for the book - THE DARK TOWER 7".
- King, Stephen (1999-11-14). Hearts in Atlantis. New York, New York: Scribner. pp. 130, 134. ISBN 0-684-85351-5.