Month: April 2012

2011 Book #12: The Drawing of the Three

It’s really hard to write a review about the second (or third or fourth) book in a series without exposing too much about the first one. So if you haven’t read The Gunslinger, I’ll point you to that post. Want a summary? Read it. That’s my summary. I wouldn’t suggest starting The Dark Tower series with The Drawing of the Three, so if this is the first you’ve heard of it, and you think you might read it, go elsewhere to avoid a huge spoiler.

Okay, since we know, at the very least, that The Dark Tower is about the gunslinger’s quest to, well, the Dark Tower, we can pretty safely assume that he’ll survive the first book. At the end of The Gunslinger, we leave Roland (the gunslinger) as he heads to the coast. The Drawing of the Three picks up there. He wakes up on a beach at night as some lobsterish creatures are swept up next to him with the tide. One attacks him, clawing off three of his fingers and one of his toes. He calls them lobstrosities, and I’ve already talked about them and their awesomeness.

Seriously. If you’re looking for a reason to read this book, they’re it. I digress. So the gunslinger hasn’t only lost some digits: his wounds get infected. In his world, he’s SOL. But! At the end of The Gunslinger, the Man in Black mentions something about drawing, but there’s no explanation until Roland is just about dying on the beach, and he sees a door appear out of nowhere. He opens it and finds himself looking through the eyes of a junkie named Eddie, who is about to try to smuggle cocaine through customs. Roland can control Eddie to varying degrees depending on how far into the door he goes. He can just look through Eddie’s eyes, or he can take complete control. Things Happen. I won’t spoil that part. Just keep in mind that this is a huge chunk of the novel. Like the title says, the gunslinger draws three. One of them is a schizophrenic woman in a wheelchair who is alternately a very nice person and a homicidal maniac. Do with that what you will. And that’s all the plot you’re getting on this one.

I didn’t like The Drawing of the Three nearly as much as I liked The Gunslinger, though it’s not bad. It’s just really different. Most of it takes place through the doors in the twentieth century, and that kind of disappointed me. And some parts were annoying. The gunslinger, probably coming from some post-apocalyptic time when technology is all but gone, doesn’t understand a lot of what’s going on in the twentieth century, and he uses words he knows to describe what he sees. Which is fine to a point, but it goes on all through the book. Here’s an example:

The potions that really worked were kept safely out of sight. One could only obtain these if you had a sorcerer’s fiat. In this world, such sorcerers were called DOCKTORS, and they wrote their magic formulae on sheets of paper which the Mortcypedia called REXES. The gunslinger didn’t know the word. He supposed he could have consulted further on the matter, but didn’t bother.

(In case you’re wondering, the Mortcypedia is the brain of one of the characters.) I like the shifting POV throughout the novel, but the gunslinger’s parts get a bit old.

I think I’ll take a break from this series for a while because, after this book, I’m not too enthused anymore. And a friend told me that the third one gets pretty bad, and he stopped reading it about halfway through. I’m in the mood for some good writing, anyway, so I think I’ll go for Cormac McCarthy‘s Suttree. McCarthy is a dependably good writer, and Suttree has been on my to-read list for quite a while. If you’re reading along, break out your dictionary! You’ll see why.

Bonus: There’s a Tumblr for everything these days, and I happened on one about The Dark Tower. Enjoy. Oh! And here’s another with an NSFW title. I bet you can guess what it is.

2012 Book #11: The Gunslinger

The Gunslinger has been on my to-read list for a while. It came highly recommended from a few of my friends, so I finally broke down and read it. You see, it’s not the kind of book I usually like. You tell me gunslinger, and I say, nope, nope, I don’t like westerns. No westerns for me, thanks. (I think my aversion to westerns is my dad’s fault. He’s read every Louis L’amour book ever written, and he used to read loooooooooong passages at the dinner table. My stepmother and I would feign interest.) Then there’s the Stephen King part. I’m a little ambivalent here. When I was about 12, I read The Tommyknockers and liked it well enough. At some point when I was in high school or college, I read The Shining, which is a legitimately good book. Later, I read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, which is not a good book.

An aside is in order here: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is about a little girl who gets lost in the woods. She has a little radio with her, and she listens to baseball games and is encouraged by her favorite player, Tom Gordon. Something creepy has been following her the whole time, and it gets creepier and creepier. You might think it’s something supernatural. But (spoiler!) it’s not. It’s just a bear. You’ve wasted several hours of your time reading a Stephen King novel, thinking you know what to expect, and in an M. Night Shyamalan-like twist, you get a bear. Seriously, yall. I still want my money back on that one.

Anyway, that should explain my ambivalence toward Stephen King. I do have a little confession to make, though: I love the made-for-TV movies. I even spent last night watching the third episode of The Stand. And then there’s The Langoliers, which I’ve seen dozens of times over the years. I’m embarrassed to say that I even own several of the DVDs. So: TV, yes; books, sometimes. But I digress. Again.

I’ll cut to the chase: Turns out The Gunslinger isn’t a western. Yes, there’s some desert and some good ol’ gunslingin’, but that isn’t the point. It’s a fantasy novel, and I like fantasy. Especially the good vs. evil kind of fantasy that thinks it has higher implications. This series totally fits the bill. I thought I’d be able to stop after the first one, but that’s not gonna happen. I’ve already loaded the second, The Drawing of the Three, onto my Kindle.

I guess a bit of a plot rundown is in order. I’m not giving you much this time. A gunslinger tracks a “man in black” across the desert. He meets a few people on his way, and you get just a piece of the backstory as he progresses. He meets a boy at a way-station and takes him along. Things Happen.

This is the kind of book that you’ll enjoy more if you don’t know anything about it. I had no idea except that it involved a gunslinger, but I’ve already talked about that. The Gunslinger was a very happy surprise. Now, of course, I’m hooked: I’ve already started reading the next book in the series, The Drawing of the Three, and it’s really interesting. In a good way, so far. Once you finish The Gunslinger, you have all kinds of fun to look forward to, including my very favorite creature yet, the lobstrosity. If you can’t find any other reason to read The Dark Tower series, read it for the lobstrosities.

Which reminds me: These novels have pictures!

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