Drawing Of The Three, Stephen King

Before I go into my critique/review of a horribly outdated book (1989, I think), I just want to say…

When you translate Absinthe from its original French, you get Wormwood. I found an book called Wormwood at the local antique store, and now, no matter how dry it is, I want to read it. (Get the pun!?)

Okay. Second book in Stephen King’s Masterpiece du jour, The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three was crap.

I could end it there, I guess. I’m not much of a critiquer of the things I don’t like. There’s a lot. Perhaps it’s just dated, and that’s why I dislike it so. Perhaps it’s the amateurish writing that made me infinitely jealous that he got this stuff published, while I’m constantly polishing my work on a barber’s belt and still getting form letters of rejection–if I get anything at all. Perhaps I’m spoiled on his later stuff.

No. None of that’s it. It’s the inconsistency of the characters that throw me. The story starts off with a bang. Roland, the gunslinger/knight/Dirty Harry gets two of his fingers bitten off in the first chapter by a nasty three-foot long crablobster. I was excited as you can imagine: an author, cutting off a gunslinger’s two most important fingers in the FIRST CHAPTER? I was riveted and ready.

The story continues with a whimper. I loved the plot. I loved the western themes presenting themselves here and there (in fact, I’m a sucker for it). Unfortunately, the characters and the setting digressed throughout the story. I think Mr. King fell in love with his character Roland somewhere along the line, or else he grew soft–I don’t know, but the gunslinger, a hardened force-of-nature that willingly sacrificed a boy to kill his nemesis in the first book, cries like a pansy for nearly two whole chapters at the end. I’m getting to that.

This book’s got no shortage of guts, violence, profanity, drugs. I liked it. Mr. King doesn’t understand the finer points of sex in this novel, I think, but I can overlook it. Sex does not a good book make.

Quick overview of the book: Roland is given a Tarot reading by the Man in Black at the end of book 1 saying Roland must draw three others from other worlds to assist him if he wishes to succeed in his trek to the Dark Tower, his ultimate goal. So, this book is dedicated to–as the title states–Roland drawing his three. That’s it. He goes to Earth, pulls someone out. Goes to Earth, pulls someone out. Goes to Earth… you get the picture. The plot is weak due to the entire book being dedicated to pulling people out of doors–not with ease, of course, and these characters come with their own baggage–but it’s ALL HE DOES. It’s part of a series, yes–BUT IT’S ALL HE DOES. The plot is New York in different time periods–cool, I guess–and a sandy beach with crablobsters that can eat him in two snaps.

Spoiler Alert. The plot is strong because the characters do all the work. All of it. Roland is strong with his violent, no-nonsense gunplay. Odetta is strong with her multiple personalities (spoiler). Even Mort is powerful in his shell of a self. Every character works its tail off to survive, and in this the plot is strong.

It’s weak because, as I said earlier, the characters are too inconsistent. Roland’s dying most of this book. He has a wicked infection and he’s dying 99% of it. The last 1% he’s crying like a baby. Roland doesn’t cry. Doesn’t say things like, “Even the damned can love.” No. Somewhere, Mr. King decided to get romantic on Roland, and it did something to ruin the character for me. Why is Roland emotional? No idea. He’s no closer to where he’s supposed to be. He’s no stronger a person. In fact he’s weaker because he lost fingers and a toe.

Odetta is apparently schizo (again, here’s where the dated material comes in, perhaps). She acts schizo, she does all the schizo things, and JUST when she’s supposed to do something, she does it on her own and she’s healed. I know better than this. My suspension of disbelief is broken. Too far suspended. ESPECIALLY since upon these characters’ backs the story rolls. And Eddie’s an idiot. He ignores Roland’s commands repeatedly to–as I suspect–simply move the plot forward and draw the tension higher. It ticked me off. Do not give a half-lunatic a loaded gun. He does. Do not let your guard down. He does repeatedly.

He’s untrustworthy (“never trust a junkie”) and he’s weak. Yet I’m supposed to believe he’s strong and composed of Gunslinger steel. I don’t. Odetta, after she is “healed,” becames a total BA, I’d think, but it’s the healing that makes me sad. If I wrote that for my critique group I’d have fifteen people jumping down my throat with an, “Ah-hah! Un believe able! Fix this! It’s weak!”

The themes are incredible. I see where he gets some of his later storywriting ability. The ideas are incredible. The setting is awesome. The idea is fantastic. The execution is something I did in high school.

I judge books based on whether I could write them better. I could write this one better. I give it a 1.5 out of 5.

Yet, I WILL read book 3. I’ve read 4 HP books. I can read this Gunslinger series.

 

~x

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