The Dark Tower 2: The Drawing of the Three


Stephen King


Fantasy / Science Fiction


Date Reviewed:

March 11, 2005

hat 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 The 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.