Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

So the seventh and final book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, aptly titled The Dark Tower, is finally out. The series was a good 25 years in the making, and to be honest, I never thought he'd finish it (especially after his several threats of retirement). I'm not sure I would have minded, either, because I've always been a bit disappointed by the way he ends a lot of his stories. It often feels like he's just making it up as he goes along, assembling various interesting ideas and using them to drive a story, but he sometimes backs himself into a corner. In any case, about a year ago, King started publishing new Dark Tower novels on a regular schedule. In these new novels, I've been noticing things that lead me to believe that the ending is going to stink, that King knows it, and that he is attempting to lower expectations. There are several examples, and I've posted about them before. I guess this is a bit repetitive, but I find it interesting.

The first page of the new book has several quotes from various sources (authors often do this, choosing quotations that go along with the themes of the story), one of which is Robert Browning's poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came" which King claims was the inspiration for the entire Dark Tower series. Another quote, by Trent Reznor (from the Nine Inch Nails song Hurt), doesn't do much to assuage my doubts:
What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end
You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt
I know this is a bit unfair to Mr. King, but I have my doubts. Then again, expectations play a big part in perception, and I could certainly end up happy with the ending because I don't expect it to be good (a la my feelings on The Village).