The Drawing of the Three
by Stephen King
Published by Plume
5 Out of 5 Stars
"What the hell was that?!!?" basically sums up my response to The Drawing of the Three. And I mean that in the best possible way.
As I opined in my review of The Gunslinger, I have avoided The Dark Tower for so long because it's a series and usually series books serve up a formulaic reheating of what happened in previous books. I usually enjoy the first book, like the second book, and begin to get that deja vu feeling that I've read all of this before somewhere around book three. Not so with this bad mamma-jamma. The Drawing of the Three couldn't be more different from The Gunslinger--and yet it works. The Gunslinger offered a bleak, apocalyptic world and a terse writing style to match as we followed the Man in Black along with Roland, the last Gunslinger. At the end of the novel, Roland is told that three people will be key in aiding his quest to the Dark Tower, leading into The Drawing of the Three.
In the second novel, the narrative begins with a shocking development in the first few pages that instantly causes us to reassess the character of Roland in terms of his abilities and his physical/emotional limits. Under considerable strain and a very real life-threatening situation, Roland begins to draw the three prophesied. As he does so, Roland breaks the barrier between his world and ours while discovering unlikely connections among the three people he encounters.
Unlike The Gunslinger, the writing here is more descriptive and King does a superb job of capturing Roland's awe with the plenty offered in our world in contrast with the world that has "moved on," as well as creating tension with the character of Detta Walker (I was as on edge during her scenes as Roland was; reading chapters with her was emotionally exhausting). In the first novel, Roland talked about how the Dark Tower was some kind of nexus holding worlds and times together and The Drawing begins to explore and clarify this idea more so than the previous book did.
It's very difficult to say much about the book without spoiling it, but King is to be commended for writing a book that varies in so many ways from the first novel and yet still seems a natural part of the world he created. If this continues, I may be one very happy series reader indeed.
Now I just hope that I don't order the Lobstrosities the next time I'm at Red Lobster. Seriously, I'll never look at lobster in the same way again.