The Drawing of the Three is the second book in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower Saga. Given that this is the second book in a series there is always the potential for spoilers from the first book, so read with that in mind. Of course there is always the potential for some spoilers from this book, but I try to avoid them as much as possible.
The book itself picks up after the events of the first book. Roland has met the Man in Black and after a rather strange meeting sets off to find the three people that are supposed to help Roland on his quest. This meeting took place on a beach near the Western Sea and that is where Roland begins this book.
To be honest though, the beginning of The Drawing of the Three is almost enough to put you off the whole book. It starts off with Roland waking up on the beach of the Western Sea in the water and being attacked by what the characters call a “lobstrosity.” This “lobstrosity” almost kills Roland and he winds up losing two fingers on his right hand and the big toe on his right foot. What is really infuriating about this turn of events is how Roland thinks about how water is a gunslingers worst enemy because wet bullets are useless.
If this were the case what was Roland doing that close to the sea? It seems unlikely that he would have just wandered too close by accident, since that just isn’t in character for Roland. The whole setup just seems like a way to make Roland weaker and need to rely more on those he is supposed to recruit to his cause. Which is okay, but the way it was done just really didn’t make sense to me.
If you can get past that though, then The Drawing of the Three winds up being a better book than the first. In the book Roland is to look for three doors that connect to the tarot cards that the Man in Black showed him at the end of the last book. The three cards were are “The Prisoner”, “The Lady of Shadows”, and “Death”. All three of these characters are found in New York City from different time periods.
These members of Roland’s group also all have their own struggles and bleak aspects to their stories, which fits in so well with the bleakness in the Dark Tower series. Eddie Dean, “The Prisoner” is a prisoner to his heroin addiction and the New York City underworld. Odetta Holmes, “The Lady of Shadows” seems to be kind, gentle, and intelligent, but harbors a split personality named Detta Walker who while still intelligent is the polar opposite of Odetta.
The last member “Death” is Jack Mort. Unlike the other two cases Jack’s door is not labeled “Death”but rather “The Pusher.” Also unlike Eddie or Odetta, Jack is not really intended to become one of Roland’s allies, but is rather slated for death, which should be unsurprising. Jack is a sociopath who likes to randomly injure or kill random strangers by pushing them into moving vehicles or dropping things on their head. Despite not being one to join his group Roland is still able to make use of the man for his quest.
The doors allow Roland to see through the eyes of each of these characters, talk to them in their minds, control their actions, and even appear in the world himself. Roland uses all of these things in different ways for each of the three characters. To top it all off Roland is suffering from severe infection and fever from his wounds given to him by the “lobstrosity” at the beginning of the book.
If all this sounds like a very strange ride, you would be right. However, it is the mix of strangeness, bleakness, and fantastical that makes the book so interesting. It is a book full of flawed characters who wind up caught up in something bigger than themselves. It is a book that travels through different times and different dimensions and yet still manages to work.
As I said earlier I’d place The Drawing of the Three as a better book overall than King’s first entry into the series. If The Gunslinger piqued your interest at all, even if you didn’t think it was the best book, I would give The Drawing of the Three a try. It’s still the same world with the same bleak, dark outlook with a sliver of hope even when it comes to “our world.” Don’t expect that to change, but it continues to interesting story that is introduced in The Gunslinger and makes it even more intriguing.