Reading Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three is an arduous task, to say the least. In this, the second entry in The Dark Tower series (read my review of the first book here), we follow the last Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead, down a desolate and dangerous beach that seems to have no end. Along the way, he will encounter three doors, freestanding impossibly on their own, that will give him access to three people that will, and must, accompany him on his quest for the dark tower. Sounds simple, right? Alas, dear readers, you are completely wrong. Without giving too much away, I would like to skim over a few things about The Drawing of the Three.
First, the previously mentioned dangerous beach is only the first thing to slow the Gunslinger down. Just a mere seven hours after the end of the first book, Roland comes across noisy, crustacean-like creatures called Lobstrosities that are as deadly as they are inquisitive. Seriously, if I had to read “Did-a-chick? Dum-a-chum? Dad-a-cham?” one more time, I was going to personally enter the pages of this novel and strangle them myself. Armed with razor-sharp claws used with sadistic precision, one of these vile creatures severely injures Roland, taking the index and middle fingers of his gun hand and kicking off the time-clock on whether or not Roland will be alive by the end of this book.
Riddled with infection, Roland continues on because it is his only hope for survival. Happening upon the first standing door, Roland sees that the words inscribed on it read The Prisoner. What is this person a prisoner of? The simple answer is addiction. Eddie, the first person Roland must bring to his aide, is a heroin addict. Although, that is the least of Roland’s concern at this point in the novel. His main concern is to acquire some sort of medicine to counteract the infection that is rapidly getting worse.
Behind the second door labeled as The Lady of Shadows, Roland finds Odetta Holmes, a kind, young black woman and civil rights activist who had had terrible things happen to her in her life – one was a brick dropped on her head when she was child, causing her personality to split and bringing forth the violent Detta Walker. She was also hit by a train, an accident that caused her to lose her legs. As you can imagine, Detta/Odetta is a force to be reckoned with. But this is nothing compared to what Roland finds behind door number three…
The Drawing of the Three is a book full of suspense. Can Roland will find what he needs to survive? Will the Lobstrosities eat our new friends? Odetta, will you please come back to consciousness? That last one won’t make sense to you but I hope that it will intrigue you enough to pick up the book.
King fleshes out characters like a sculptor would chisel his statues. The Drawing of the Three is no exception to this assessment. In the beginning, heroin addict Eddie is impossible to even tolerate, let alone like, but King’s wizardry with words redeems him nonetheless as the story goes on. I had an incredibly hard time getting through the portion where I met Eddie due to the depth of his addiction.
This portion is hard to read. Be that as it may, Eddie ended up being my second favorite character in this story by the end. That is what works in King’s creation of a character. He doesn’t gloss over their bad qualities. In fact, he almost shoves them down your throat, but as the tale goes on, he slowly but surely redeems them, giving the reader no other choice but to slowly fall in love with them.
There are plenty of fantastic things about this written record of Roland’s quest. We travel seamlessly through different times, realities, and worlds. However, there is one thing I loved most about The Drawing of the Three. It was King’s connection between drug addiction, love, and Roland’s dark tower quest that struck a chord with me. It gave me a clearer understanding of Roland and the relationship I had with him as a reader of his journey. At one point King writes, “Might as well try to drink the ocean with a spoon as argue with a lover.” At the time, this directly related to Eddie’s love for another character and his unwillingness to cease searching for her, but that line has many meanings.
The same saying could be applied in regards to talking Roland into quitting his journey for the dark tower. The tower is Roland’s addiction, just as heroin is Eddie’s. Nothing could deter Roland from his fix and nothing could deter me from reading these books.
There was a moment towards the end of the book when a character basically evolved in front of my eyes. I could almost hear a choir in the background with how well this section was written. My mouth literally dropped as my eyes skimmed the page, deciphering each sentence as if my life depended on it. It was in this moment, one that those who have read The Drawing of the Three will know, that I fell in love with this epic tale. Unfortunately, I know there is a risk that this character might not survive the entire journey, but God I pray they do.
Tonight, I will begin my journey into The Wastelands. I am eager to see how Roland and his cohorts will traverse this new adventure. What new dangers lie ahead for them? Much like Roland and Eddie, I need my fix. My drug of choice? Vicariously living through this group of gunslingers as they make their way to a perplexing and mysterious tower.
Have you read The Drawing of the Three? What did you think of it? I was surprised at how much I loved the characters as the story went on, and I can’t wait to join them later to further our journey to the dark tower.