The Drawing of the Three - Stephen King The Drawing of the Three is the second book of Stephen King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower. So far it hasn’t been bad, but I have to admit that I’m not fully a believer yet. It’s a good story, taking up where we left off in The Gunslinger with Roland on the beach after having confronted the Man in Black and pondering his next move. After being attacked and wounded by a lobstrosity (wtf?! couldn’t King come up with something better? I mean it kind of makes Roland look like a dweeb that he was overcome by one of these things) Roland wanders the beach in a daze, gradually getting sicker and weaker and wondering how he will continue his quest. Three doorways in the sand present themselves to him one after the other and upon entering each he is taken into the lives of those who will become his new ka-tet (think band of not-so-merry co-adventurers).

Each of these potential heroes is not exactly keen at the idea of following our taciturn gunslinger into another dimension in the name of some ill-defined quest, but luckily (for him) Roland can be persuasive. The first one we meet is Eddie Dean, a heroin addict in 1987 New York City (denoted ‘the Prisoner’ in the man in Black’s tarot reading) who has some complications with a smuggling gig on the very near horizon. Add to that an encounter with Roland and Eddie’s not in for a very fun day all things considered. The second ‘hero’ is Odetta Holmes/Detta Walker (it makes sense once you get to know her), called ‘The Lady of Shadows’ by the tarot. She is an African-American civil rights activist in 1964 New York city with a few personal (and personality) problems, not the least of which is the fact that she’s been in a wheelchair since an ‘accident’ with the subway years before. The final doorway in the sand leads to a confrontation with the enigmatic Jack Mort and a full circle journey for one of our heroes that will either save and meld this new ka-tet into a real force, or destroy it before it begins.

I liked, but didn’t love this book. King’s characters are interesting, but I am much more interested in the larger story, of which we still have received almost no indication yet, as opposed to the personal tales of the new ka-tet. I guess I was hoping for more genre-busting fantasy and a little less contemporary dark fiction. Also, the story was often a long plod, though in some ways this is a compliment to King since it reflects the reality he was trying to express as Roland, Eddie, and Odetta/Detta trudge across the seemingly endless Mid-World (apparently this is not yet Mid-World) beach…a long, slow, plodding journey through illness, fear and weakness marching towards a goal neither of them is exactly certain of.

My real interest in this series was initially prompted by the character of the Gunslinger Roland himself and thus I am (contrary to what appears to be most readers experiences) at this point looking forward more to volume 4, which covers his backstory and the members of his original ka-tet, than I am to volume 3. For the time being though I’ll stay along for the ride and hope that more answers are forthcoming.