The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three (2003)
By: Markus Zussner on March 22, 2006  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
Author: Stephen King Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 496
After reading The Gunslinger I have become hooked. I realise now that I am indeed in for the long haul. Considering myself an additional member of the Quest, I now invite you to join the quest for the elusive Dark Tower. The second instalment The Dark Tower Volume 2: The Drawing of the Three carries on from where The Gunslinger ends. The final page of the Gunslinger has Roland catching up with the man in black, Roland has made his choice between damnation and salvation either to save the boy Jake or to sacrifice him and continue with the quest. The man in black deals Roland's fate with a tarot card reading. When the meeting is over Roland is bestowed with the power of Drawing and the man in black is nothing more than bones and dust in the sand. Roland knows that in order to continue on he now needs to draw others to him, whoever they may be. Without these others Roland will fail. He is left at the end of the story on a desolate coastline that winds off into the horizon.

And so begins The Dark Tower Volume Two The Drawing of the Three. Our hero Roland awakens from his parlay with the man in black to find himself waste deep in the surf of a coastline that snakes off into the distance. At once he is attacked by razor clawed creatures called Lobstrosities that dwell in the coastline surf to feed. The lobstrosities tear chunks of flesh from his body. Three fingers from his left hand are bitten off which seriously impedes his ability to use the tools of his trade, his guns. Roland barely makes it out of the surf alive. What's more one side of his gun belt has been soaked by the surf and has rendered most of his ammunition useless (nasty, nasty, King). Which bullets will fire and which ones will misfire Roland doesn't know until he tries to use them. He makes his way down the coast in the direction of where he thinks the Dark Tower is and as the days go by he develops a nasty fever (nasty, nasty, King). He is suffering from Infection from the Lobstrosity bites and if he does not get medicine fast (antibiotics), he will die. Eventually Roland comes across the first portal; a wooden door on hinges made out of solid ironwood, suspended in space on a hill above the tide line. On the door are inscribed the words 'The prisoner'. The door is a portal to another world possibly to the Gunslingers world in the past before the world began to move on. This is his power of drawing, the ability to find and manipulate gates that go to other worlds or timelines. Roland passes through the door of The Prisoner and finds himself in control of the mind of a Heroin addict called Eddie Dean. Eddie is on a Plane that is due to land at Kennedy Airport in mid 1980's New York. He is a Prisoner to a demon named Heroin. Eddie is a mule for a violent Drug trafficker named Balazar who is holding his brother Henry hostage until Eddie turns up with the goods. Eddie feels that something is terribly wrong with his own sanity. This is not good because he is strapped up to the armpits with packets of Cocaine. Eddie Dean can sense the consciousness of Roland in his head but can do nothing about it. Eddie thinks that the Heroin withdrawal he is going through is the cause for his momentary lapse of sanity. Eddie has not had a fix since he got on the plane. Roland brings Eddie back into his world but it is not easy and he uses his cunning to assist Eddie in avoiding arrest by the awaiting Airport Customs and his two revolvers to do all the negotiating with the Mob. Getting Eddie through the portal makes for pretty exciting bloody reading. Now with the assistance of Eddie Dean suffering an agonising heroin withdrawal, Roland continues his quest along the coastline to find the second portal, inscribed The Lady of the Shadows and the Third Portal inscribed The Pusher, which is the portal of Death "...but not for you gunslinger." Will the others drawn into the quest be able to work with each other? Will Roland survive the nasty infected bites inflicted by the lobstrosities? All will be revealed by the conclusion of The Drawing of the Three.

As The Dark Tower Volume One The Gunslinger was really an introduction to the character of Roland Deschain of Gilead so The dark Tower Volume Two The drawing of the Three is a re-introduction of Roland and an introduction of additional characters Eddie Dean and Odetta/Detta Walker, two more recruits to the Gunslingers Quest for the Dark Tower. For the whole book, King never removes his characters from the coastline setting with the exception of Roland entering the Portals to the other worlds to extract the additional members of his quest. It's easy to imagine this landscape as one similar to the settings found in Sergio Leone Westerns. If you have not seen a Sergio Leone Western such as The Good The Bad and The Ugly/ A fist full of Dollars in particular on the big screen for the full effect, then you won't know what I mean. A minimalist and underpopulated desert landscape in a lost technological age. Although Sergio never went near a coastline in any of his westerns it feels as if it were one of his bleak dusty settings but mixed with salt air. By the time The Drawing of the Three reaches its conclusion King has not brought us any closer to the Dark Tower. King has established through the first two books the principle characters and the setting in which their story unfolds. This is by no means a story dragged out. If anything it's a positive move. King shows his adept story-telling and characterisation techniques by keeping his readers involved and draws them in like he were drawing his readers into the quest to engage and participate with the written characters. If I was hooked from reading The Gunslinger, then The Drawing of the Three (four if you count me) has me double-hooked.

Additional Information Look out for the hilarious "Guess who am I game" that Balazaars henchmen engage with Eddie's brother Henry, whose answer every time is "Johnny Cash". Isn't Johnny Cash also known as "The Man in Black"? Curious?

The TV series Lost takes inspiration from some of Stephen King's books. Character names from Lost are also names of characters in The Stand. Other small incidents in Lost seem to reflect in the Dark Tower novels also. For example a showdown with an Angry Giant Bear in Season One of Lost is similar to scene written in The Drawing of the Three where Roland must shoot an angry charging bear (with a chip in its head) or be killed himself.

Also look for references to North Central Positronics on discarded and decaying technology acknowledged throughout the Dark Tower Books (like the chip discovered in the angry bears head).
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