book-review_-dark-tower-iiStephen King
Grant
1987

Roland could not understand why anyone would want cocaine or any other illegal drug, for that matter, in a world where such a powerful one as sugar was so plentiful and cheap.

While pursuing his quest for the Dark Tower through a world that is a nightmarishly distorted mirror image of our own, Roland is drawn through a mysterious door that brings him into contemporary America. Here he links forces with the defiant young Eddie Dean, and with the beautiful, brilliant, and brave Odetta Holmes, in a savage struggle against underworld evil and otherworldly enemies.

After reading the first novel in the Dark Tower series and finding myself underwhelmed with the original experience (bit different when I re-read it in my 30s, as you may recall if you read that review), I then decided to press on and read the second entry in the Dark Tower saga, The Drawing of the Three. It had just hit in the mass market edition through the Signet label, which just happened to coincide with my finishing up The Gunslinger. Pure coincidence, I’m sure.

I remember reading this in the Spring of 1990, at the age of 16, and being completely immersed in the continuing story in a way that truly sucked me in and lost track of reality. It was obvious that this was a better tale than that of the first book, and although The Drawing of the Three was twice the size of The Gunslinger, I ripped through that far faster.

The story picks up where The Gunslinger left off: Roland wakes up on a beach, where he’s immediately attacked by a mutant lobster. He loses a couple of digits on his right hand, which gets infected, causing him to lose strength as he’s walking along the beach. He then comes across a series of doors along the beach, like he suddenly found himself in the middle of a Pink Floyd album cover shoot. Because these are magical doors, when Roland passes through one of them, he finds himself inside the head of someone else, seeing through their eyes. The first two people turn out to be the ones he was destined to recruit to join in his quest to find the Dark Tower: young heroin addict Eddie Dean, and a feisty young lady named Odetta Holmes who seems to have more than just Roland riding along in her head, let’s just say. The third door leads to the head of a sociopath that just happened to be the guy who not only caused the physical and psychological trauma for Ms. Holmes, but also was the cause of death for one Jake Chambers in New York, which lead to his appearance in the first novel. Some quantum-reality jumping wackiness ensues, resulting in Odetta’s split personalities to merge into Susannah Dean and Eddie to kick his heroin addiction, and Roland finding himself in the company of new companions to accompany him on his on going quest.

As I mentioned, I originally read The Drawing of the Three in just a handful of days (keeping in mind that I was 16 and still had to find time to read in between homework and the other things that were competing for my attention at that tender age), and the story stuck with me long after I finished reading it. Even back then, I was heavily fascinated by surreal concepts like doorways that lead to alternate dimensions in time and space (among other things), and since the narrative of this story involved a Being John Malkovich setup (long before that movie became a thing, I should also point out), this story just blew my teenage mind right out of every orifice in my head. Re-reading it now, the story still holds up very well, and continues to blow my mind with the fantasy elements, as well as exploring the nature of psychological brokenness. Not to mention getting a bit of a tie-in with discovering the origin of how young Jake ended up in Roland’s world, and how that tied into the drawing of what would become Roland’s companions as they continue the quest for the Dark Tower.

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