What a disappointment this volume turned out to be. I read so much
praise for the Dark Tower series, I expect all seven books to be treasured classics. But this
is a poor story. Of course, because it is Stephen King, you fly right through the 400 pages,
King writing anything will result in some interesting reading - but the plot of The Drawing
of the Three is disappointing. The entire book is spent with completely unlikeable characters,
you won't enjoy spending time in the head of a heroin addict, a clever murderer, or the split
personality that is Odetta Walker. Roland, the hero of this series, doesn't get
portrayed very favorably in this book either.
Roland the gunslinger finds himself on a deserted beach, attacked by lobstrosities -
monster carnivorous lobsters. The lobsters are classic King creatures, mean and scary - they lurk threateningly
for the rest of the novel - which is because the entire book is spent on the same desolate, featureless beach. The sense of "epic adventure" is completely lost - the first book
in this series conveyed a fine sense of wonder, of vastness - as Roland chased the Man In Black over a huge
landscape. In this book, a sick and injured Roland manages to stagger a few miles north along a beach. Not much territory is covered, and
ultimately very little is done to advance his quest. Nor does King provide ANY background information about
Roland in this book. The first book gave us some of Roland's history, but there is surely much more to be
revealed - but King doesn't provide any of those details. If you haven't read the first book (though why would
anyone start a series on book 2?) The Drawing of the Three would make no sense at all.
On the beach, Roland finds a door with no walls, frame, or other support structure, there
is simply a door standing on the sand. Going through the door, Roland finds himself transported to an alternate
universe (our own earth) and inside the head of Eddie the heroin addict. There is some nice story telling as
Roland is baffled by commonplace items in our world - but this interesting stranger's view of our society is
quickly left behind as Roland finds himself involved in Eddie's plot to smuggle cocaine into New York airport.
Ultimately, it ends in a giant shootout - and a dozen bad guys get blown away, while Roland and Eddie survive
a thousand shots fired in their direction. (I was pretty sure Eddie gets hit in the arm in this gunfight, and
gets peppered with shotgun pellets, yet these injuries apparently instantly heal when they go back through the
door to Roland's world, because they are never mentioned again.)
I found the Odetta Walker character especially annoying. Remember the episode
in the original Star Trek series where a malfunction in the transporter splits Captain Kirk into two
halves - one side completely good, the other half completely evil? King employs the same idea, but instead
of a malfunction in the transporter, King drops a brick on the head of 5 year old Odetta Walker, and this
results in the manifestation of the complete good / evil personality split years later. Odetta Walker is portrayed
as implausible saint, while Detta Walker is the incarnation of trouble. It is tiresome reading.
The final section of this book deals with Roland inside the mind of Jack Mort,
an evil man who apparently gets his jollies by assaulting other people. It is Jack Mort, who, years ago, dropped
the brick on Odetta Walker's head, and it also Jack Mort, many years later, who shoved Detta Walker in front of
a subway train- and now he gets possessed by Roland - how is that for a huge coincidence? The sense of wonder/confusion Roland
felt when he first viewed our world through Eddie's eyes is now gone - Roland simply sifts through Mort's memory
bank and instantly comes up with understanding of how our world works, and what to say and do. Roland also demonstrates
he is in complete control of Mort's body as he makes some astonishing gunshots. I was disappointed to see the "bullet
meant for the heart stopped by a cigarette lighter in the breast pocket" plot device - this lucky happenstance is just
too frequently in novels. Besides, Roland/Mort is running away from the cops, so how come their shot hits a cigarette
lighter in his front pocket?
I still have high expectations for the rest of this series. The last three books were written
about 20 years after Drawing of the Three, and King has surely improved as a storyteller. I hope Roland and his new
comrades now get back to the journey to the Dark Tower. I suspect they will, since the next book is titled The Wastelands.