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.