The Drawing of the Three
April 12, 2016 10:09 AM - by Stephen King - Subscribe

In this sequel to The Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead must search the beach of the Western Ocean to find the three people he is destined to collect on his quest to find the Dark Tower.
posted by nubs (17 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had forgotten just how quickly the lobstrosities make off with Roland's fingers. It's brutal!

Really enjoying this reread so far (Eddie just got to Balazar's), as this book is one of my favorites.
posted by MsVader at 1:24 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I remember the first time I read the book and nearly throwing it down in disgust when Roland loses two fingers off his right hand within the first five pages. And to a lobstrosity, not even in a fight or to something that feels significant - just something that happens, you know, when you fall asleep on a beach at the edge of the Western Ocean.

I also really like the moment the first door gets opened, and Roland's reaction.
posted by nubs at 1:52 PM on April 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is the book where I realized it was going to be a long, long, long LONG serious.
posted by happyroach at 4:19 PM on April 12, 2016

I read this and it made me better able to explain why I am not totally enthralled by the series. The Gunslinger just left me feeling kind of unfulfilled, but after reading The Drawing of the Three, I realize that I just don't like the concept of ka. I feel like it just makes for lazy writing where Roland gets backed into a corner, or there is no reasonable way for him to know how to proceed, but BAM KA! We go north.

I mean I didn't really hate the book, but I felt like there were several times when a catalyst was needed or something should have happened and instead we got ka. Anyway, I also was kind of annoyed by the 'dear reader' aside. I'm not sure if I would have noticed it, but someone mentioned the wink, wink, nudge, nudge of the narrator speaking directly to the reader in the previous thread and so it did kind of annoy me when I saw it here. Oh, and is anyone else kind of uncomfortable with the way he writes dialect? I feel like King is trying too hard and it doesn't work. Of course that might just be because the books are pretty old now.

Enough griping! I liked the idea that Roland wreaked so much havoc in New York with the pusher, who from outward appearance is a lumpy dude with glasses. That imagery was appealing to me. I also kind of liked the idea of the naked gun fighting, which just seems a little ridiculous.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:53 PM on April 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

So I finished the section on Eddie last night. A few things that stood out:

-my gawd, the bits on the airplane and with customs/security afterwards read so, so differently now in our post-9/11 world;

-quite a few little moments where Roland recalls things from his past; about his "class" of graduates, the last of the Gunslingers; about how the quest for the Tower (which sounds very Arthurian here to me) killed off all of them (and not all from fighting, but things like suicide, which suggests this quest not only destroys the body but the mind/spirit/will) but Roland carries on. A few hints as to why that is so; not a lack of imagination, but perhaps a lack of introspection and limited compassion - a deliberately cultivated lack of introspection and compassion perhaps, as when he hears the voice of his father telling him not to be too attached to Eddie, a man whom Roland might have to sacrifice on the way much like Jake.

It is interesting that Roland hears that warning in his father's voice, but from Walter's voice he hears things about how Roland is cruel, pulling these people to him that will likely die and be sacrificed for Roland's ends. To some extent, then, Walter is Roland's conscience - and his conscience uses the voice of a man Roland hates and chased for years; a man Roland thinks of as the villain.

Anyways, it is interesting to me how little I remember about this book, despite recalling it with a very favorable attitude. I am curious that this section about the Prisoner focuses on Roland's ability to notice details and his ability to fight; I am wondering if there are different features of Roland's that come to the fore in Lady of Shadows; the last section, that deals with Jake, at least speaks to Roland having some compassion and regret (that section stands out in my mind the most from my rereads).
posted by nubs at 10:05 AM on April 17, 2016

Oh I have a weird question. When reading the first book, it seemed like he spent only a short time in Tull. And it also seems like a ton of nasty stuff happened in his past, right? So why does so much stuff from the first two books relate back to Tull?
posted by Literaryhero at 10:42 PM on April 17, 2016

I think there's a few reasons for that. Tull is something that we as readers were there for, so it has more impact on us that Roland's remembrances of something else from his past; and also because while Roland has seen some shit in his life, I think Tull was a little beyond the normal - on his own, he took out an entire town, including a woman he was having a relationship with. It's part of why Roland is a little broken (more so than normal) at the beginning of the Gunslinger.

I also think King is still coming to terms with this story at this point; he has some hazy details about Roland and his past, but I'm not sure that King himself has unearthed them at the time he writes Drawing.

Given the overall nature of the story and what Roland's journey appears to be about, though, I have to wonder if Tull isn't one of the more significant decision points/choices for Roland as well.
posted by nubs at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2016

I am having a really hard time getting into the section that introduces us to Detta/Odetta. I'm not entirely sure why; I have some discomfort with watching King write a disabled PoC, but I'm not sure that is all of it. Does anyone else find the opening sections of "The Dark Lady" offputting?
posted by nubs at 8:27 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I definitely did not like the writing with her. It was very off putting and while there are obvious reasons why, I feel like I should be able to get over them but something's still bugging me.
posted by LizBoBiz at 8:33 AM on April 19, 2016

OK, I'm glad it isn't just me. I'll keep working through and see if I can pinpoint where my feelings are coming from.
posted by nubs at 9:05 AM on April 19, 2016

I am right there with you on that one, nubs and Liz. The writing made me feel uncomfortable.
posted by Literaryhero at 9:54 PM on April 19, 2016

So, I was remembering the books wrong. I thought that Jake coming through was part of this book and not The Wastelands. I think maybe I was combining the two into one in my head. And that may be as close as I get to identifying with Susannah.

I really tried to get into her character more this time around, but I feel like King didn't give her a real personality. He just gave her that awful voice that pulls you out of the story. So I'm with you guys on her section of the book. King made it really difficult for his readers to develop a bond with her - she's too alien - she has too many things that set her apart from everyone else. It's impossible to relate to her or even empathise with her because of how he wrote her character.

I'm hoping that as the books go on, I'll be better able to identify with her. That's my goal, anyway.
posted by MsVader at 9:37 AM on May 1, 2016

I just finished this one!

The lobstrosities, yes: it was a shocking opener when I first read the book, still shocks now. It's very much Roland fighting for survival. His dispassionate "I see serious problems ahead" thought cutting across his terror.

Eddie's chapters are very much King indulging his love of pulpy crime fiction; all wise-guys and gunfights.

Roland's reaction to the first door opening, yes -- but more than that, the Roland moment I loved best was his utter surprise at drinking the soda. "Sweet! Gods, such sweetness!"

On Detta: Jake remarks to Roland that she's putting on "an act"; "she talks like a cliche." I think that's intended to make us distrust her reality more, to make us wonder how much Detta is a fully separate personality versus a facet of Odetta. But it also always comes across to me as a little bit of authorial ass-covering: King telling us "yeah, I *know* this character is written in a hokey and problematic way, but roll with it for now."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:14 PM on June 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, I found myself all the way through the book wondering "how on earth are they going to film this?" Not the problem of realizing Odetta/Detta so much; a bigger issue is that so much of the book's narrative is inside Roland's head. How do you get that off the page and onto the screen without falling into "internal monologue as voiceover" hokum? How do you portray the business of Roland "coming forward" to take control versus "staying back" to observe, and the shades of control inbetween?

(Although the detail of Eddie's and Mort's eye color changing when Roland takes control always did strike me as a rather cinematic touch.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:53 AM on June 15, 2016

(Although the detail of Eddie's and Mort's eye color changing when Roland takes control always did strike me as a rather cinematic touch.)

I think the eye color is one way; depending on how subtle the filming is, there would also be changes in body language, posture, etc. One of the things that really comes through in this book is just how different Roland is from almost everyone around him - his training and experience and whatnot leave me with the impression of Roland being somebody who brings immense presence to wherever he is, even if he isn't doing anything. He's highly aware of his situations, quick to assess and act, skilled not only in the application of violence but of diplomacy, negotiation, and manipulation. So I would see not only a change in eye color but a change in demeanor and physical stance being part of the shift.
posted by nubs at 12:32 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some shading of that in the scenes in which he's present in Eddie's consciousness but not controlling him: that Roland's presence adds some extra steel to Eddie's presentation which isn't usually there. (Or at least isn't usually exposed; Roland does immediately perceive hidden strengths in Eddie underneath his addiction.) Certainly a change that Balazar notices: "It's like somebody poured two quarts of fresh guts down his throat."

And of course any time Roland-controlling-someone speaks he reveals himself as alien: either by using otherworldly anachronisms ("popkin" etc) or by pausing to riffle through his host's mind for the correct words. The book makes an explicit reference to The Terminator; although my mental image of Roland is always more Yul Brynner in Westworld.

The little detail of sighting the doors: the trip to the second door establishes that Roland's eyesight is much better than Eddie's, but then on their trip to the third door Eddie notes that Odetta's sight is "as good as Roland's. Maybe better." This seems... significant.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:43 PM on June 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Waste Lands
posted by nubs at 9:37 PM on July 22, 2016

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