The Drawing of the Three: A Posse of New Yorkers

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Stephen King The Dark Tower 2. The Drawing of the ThreeThe Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

There is a lot to be said in praise of Stephen King, but one of his most admirable talents is his ability to vest his heroes with such unlikely and frustrating vulnerabilities. King certainly wastes no time castrating the recently victorious Roland Deschain in The Drawing of the Three, the second of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower novels.

We barely have time to blink at the mountains and the ocean before we find Roland, the last gunslinger in Mid-World, under attack from “lobstrosities.” Though he survives, Roland loses an index and middle finger to these sea monsters, a significant loss for our pistol-bearing hero. The wounds fester as Roland doggedly continues his journey, and he eventually finds three doors that carry him to New York.

On the other side of these three doors, Roland finds himself transported from the post-apocalyptic western setting of The Gunslinger into three different 20th century versions of New York. Heroin addict Eddie is smuggling cocaine, paraplegic civil rights activist Odetta Holmes is unaware of her violent alter ego Detta Walker, and Jack Mort kills random strangers. It’s a villainous and compromised world that we have entered. And yet from this world, Roland will draw three companions to help him reach the Dark Tower.

Sequels are difficult to pull off and The Drawing of the Three is a potentially polarizing extension of Roland’s story. Fans of The Gunslinger may find themselves at a loss to explain how King managed to turn his back on the radioactive Mid-World across which Roland followed the Man in Black. There are no wizards, no flashbacks to Roland’s childhood home of Gilead, and no lone wolf tale. Instead, King trades in the lonesome wanderer motif in order to recruit a posse of New Yorkers.

If The Gunslinger is an unusual novel within King’s body of work, The Drawing of the Three brings Roland’s tale into sync with the rest of King’s bizarre universe. After all, addiction, self-doubt, and petty murderers run rampant throughout King’s fiction. The Drawing of the Three ties Roland’s quest to Stephen King’s oeuvre of murderers, telekinetic children, and alcoholic writers. It is a decision that changed the life of Roland and the career of his creator.

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RYAN SKARDAL, on our staff from September 2010 to November 2018, is an English teacher who reads widely but always makes time for SFF.

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  1. This is a great series and King is a great writer.
    My big problem with the series is how long it took for him to do the books. In fact, by the time he got down to the last couple books, he had changed some things in the first book, The Gunslinger, from its original printing. I can’t remember right now, but he may have changed some things a couple times between various printings.

  2. I think King did change the stories, particularly the writing of The Gunslinger from what I’ve heard. However, it had been so long since I’d read the original version that I didn’t notice the changes anyway. Except that everything now had to do with 19. *Sigh*.

  3. Even though I’ve only read a hand-full of King’s books, -most his books being horror, and that’s just not my genre, usually- there’s no arguing what a talented writer he is. Although sometimes, I’ve usually found his endings to be a bit weak.
    He’s a master in bringing out the dark side of everything, which in turn, in comparison, the good side shines that much brighter. I so wish he’d do more stories outside of the horror genre though, like; this Dark Tower series -which is pretty horrific itself, The Shawshank Redemption, and Deloris Claiborne -I cheated and only saw the movies- and Eye of the Dragon -next to Wurts’ To Ride Hell’s Chasm, is my favorite all time, stand-alone fantasy.

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