Title: The Drawing of the Three

Author: Stephen King

Hardback: 406 pages

Publisher: Plume (1989)

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Appraising Eyeballs:


About the Book (From Amazon.com):

Elaborating at great length on Robert Browning's cryptic narrative poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," the second volume of King's post-Armageddon epic fantasy presents the equally enigmatic quest of Roland, the world's last gunslinger, who moves through an apocalyptic wasteland toward the Dark Tower, "the linchpin that holds all of existence together." Although these minor but revealing books (which King began while still in college) are full of such adolescent portentousness, this is livelier than the first. Roland enters three lives in the alternate world of New York City: junkie and drug runner Eddie Dean, schizophrenic heiress Odetta Holmes and serial murder Jack Mort. If King tells us too little about Roland, he gives us too much about these misfits who are variously healed or punished exactly as expected. Typically, King is much better at the minutiae and sensations of a specific physical world, and several such bravura sequences (from an attack by mutant lobsters to a gun store robbery) are standouts amid the characteristic headlong storytelling. BOMC alternate.

Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



Bruce’s Appraisal:

            So the first book introduces the Gunslinger and his world.  I remember being amazed that, while it did have a beginning, middle and end, The Gunslinger didn’t take a bigger bite out of the saga.  After all, this is the Dark Tower series, and the eponymous tower isn’t mentioned until near the mid-way point.  It doesn’t get a cursory description until the end.  I figured that The Drawing of the Three would be the book that gets the ball rolling. 

            In a way, it does.  Particularly, it does so stylistically.  The youthful exuberance of The Gunslinger settles into a style much closer to that of King’s better known novels.  From the first pages, where the gunslinger’s “balls” are freezing, to his later relief at the notion that he “jerks off left-handed,” we get a glimpse at the vulgarity and honesty that really bring King’s characters to life.  And that is where this book really lies.

            In terms of plot, this story doesn’t leap and bound forward.  It’s mainly a walk along the beach.  But it ties neatly into the series so far, and it also has the sort of internal continuity that is so important for an individual novel in a series.  There are many strengths, few weaknesses.  Like the first book in the series, I was mainly surprised by what wasn’t there.  Still no explanation of the Tower except for some cryptic references, and this time only a few sparse recollections of Roland’s history. 

            I’m thrilled that King was able to take his time with this series.  I can’t think of another author who has managed to publish a novel to introduce the world and a character, and then a follow up novel that basically introduces the supporting cast.  The quest itself, it seems, is a subject for another day.  That’s fine by me, because Stephen King delineating characters is Stephen King at his best.  Now that we know exactly who we’re dealing with, we’re ready to go out on one hell of a quest, and I believe the gunslinger when he says, “We will be magnificent.”

            So far, the Dark Tower series has not delivered what I expected.  It has instead delivered an utterly unique experience, one surpassing expectations in its own clever way.  I’d like to think that the next book in the series—the book with the coolest cover of any I’ve seen—is where the quest picks up, but if it doesn’t, then I’m sure it will lead somewhere equally interesting.  And all the while, the Dark Tower itself will grow mythically larger and more appealing.

            The Drawing of the Three feels like Stephen King.   It reads like the first half of most of his novels, the half where the supernatural has not gone all batshit and totally screwed up the lives of the characters who can’t comprehend what’s happening to them.  The magic, of course, is that’s exactly what happens throughout this novel.  Just like the first book in the series, I couldn’t seem to put it down.  Delightful.