Stephen King – The Drawing of the Three

So, book one wasn’t the revelation I hoped it would be. But listening to all the good advice people gave me, I dove straight into book 2 of the Dark Tower series. It was a fast ride and I arrived at the end, excited and intoxicated by King’s storytelling abilities, thinking: Now that’s more like it!

THE DRAWING OF THE THREE
by Stephen King

published: New English Library, 2003 (1987)
ISBN:0340829761
pages: 455
copy: paperback
series: The Dark Tower #2

my rating: 8/10

first sentence: The gunslinger came awake from a confused dream which seemed to consist of a single image: that of the Sailor in the Tarot deck from which the Black man had dealt (or purported to deal) the gunslinger’s own moaning future.

SPOILERS FOR BOOK ONE AHEAD!

While pursuing his quest for the Dark Tower through a world that is a nightmarishly distorted mirror image of our own, Roland, The Last Gunslinger, is drawn through a mysterious door that brings him into contemporary America. Here he links forces with the defiant young Eddie Dean, and with the beautiful, brilliant, and brave Odetta Holmes, in a savage struggle against underworld evil and otherworldly enemies.

Roland doesn’t only wake up with the memories of his Tarot hand in mind, he is also welcomed on the beach by giant lobster-like creatures that are as frightening as they are aggressive. Injured and sick, he drags himself away from these lobstrosities, only to find a door standing freely on the sand. Above it, the word Prisoner is written. When Roland opens that door, we first get to meet Eddie Dean, a junkie in our New York city who has demons of his own to fight…

I am a fan of well-structured  novels. Does Stephen King structure them too much at times? Yes, he does. But in this case, each of the three doors gets its own part of the novel which focuses on each character we meet beyond these doors. Eddie Dean, as messed up as he is, immediately became a favorite of mine. The way his modern day attitude mixes with Roland’s strange Mid-Land ways made for a compelling dynamic between the two. Odette/Detta was much harder for me to like, mainly because of her peculiuar problem. What a foul-mouthed bitch!

What I loved about this book is not only that it brings some of the well-known Stephen King suspense with it but that it actually contains somewhat of a mystery/crime-solving vibe. We are fed little tidbits of information that give us an idea of how these people’s lives might be connected but it’s only at the end that the bigger pictuer is revealed. And while it’s rather easy to guess, King’s writing still made it interesting and gave this story a new thrill. I read this book in about half the time it took me to get through The Gunslinger and it has twice as many pages.

For me, this book was a lot more coherent and gave me a plot to follow, rather than contorted images of memories in Roland’s head or episodic events happening on a walk through the desert. Maybe that means I like “simpler” novels, I don’t know. But even without knowing that this is still the beginning of a much larger story, The Drawing of the Three was a hugely fun book to read. For anyone who gives up mid-Gunslinger, don’t worry. Read this one first and go back to volume one later. Or leave it out completely (eventually, you’ll want to read it, trust me).

This is what made me understand the hype about this series. I may not have read all the books in one go but I certainly had the urge to, and Roland, Eddie and Susannah have been in the back of my mind quite a lot, especially when reading something else that was not as much of a page-turner.

THE GOOD: Suspense, great writing, interesting and troubled characters, and above all: the looming image of the Dark Tower…
THE BAD: Due to the strucuture, you can see what’s coming. Sometimes, King takes a little too long to get on with the story.
THE VERDICT: Highly recommended! This will get you into the Dark Tower craze and it also happens to be an excellent summer book.

RATING: 8/10  Eight excellent doors on a beach

The Dark Tower series:

  1. The Gunslinger
  2. The Drawing of the Three
  3. The Waste Lands
  4. Wizard and Glass
  5. Wolves of the Calla
  6. Song of Susannah
  7. The Dark Tower
  8. The Wind Through the Keyhole

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