Stephen King’s THE DARK TOWER Book Profile: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE

DotTcoverYear Published: 1987

“Re” Word: Renewal

Dedication: “To Don Grant, who’s taken on these novels, one by one.”

A very clever dedication, paying homage to the previous novel, and acknowledging that this story has graduated from a cycle of short stories to a series of novels.

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Overview: After a vicious attack, a dying Roland finds himself on a beach with three doors, where he must draw different companions from three different whens.

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Critique: There really is only one word to describe THE DRAWING OF THE THREE, and that’s fun.  Whereas the previous novel was quiet, artsy, and believed by SK to not be very commercial, this book was given the tough task of taking that odd book and legitimizing it.  The result is more of a conventional action-adventure fantasy story, but what a creative one!  The doors are great and all three of the individuals Roland finds behind them are interesting.  Eddie, even in his first appearance, is funny and sets up a great dynamic with Roland that makes both characters come alive.  The Odetta/Detta stuff is great too, though a bit dated (SK spends much of her chapter discussing schizophrenia, while today Odetta’s ailment would be known as Disassociate Identity Disorder).  And Mort is the biggest surprise of all.  Basically, the book is just endlessly creative, from premise to execution to conclusion.  I can’t think of anything negative to say about it, and yet, I also have to admit that growing up, I did always consider this the weakest of the four that were out at the time.  It’s not that the book does anything wrong; it just lacks the depth of the others.  In other words, it’s a straightforward action-adventure tale, not a character study.  If the first book was the equivalent of a slow-moving arthouse film, then this one is the equivalent of a popcorn flick.

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Editions: Rereading the book again recently, I did notice a few things that made Roland seem a little different from his later incarnations (such as saying “Dear God” instead of “gods,” etc).  I do think SK may want to consider doing a revised edition of this book as well.  The rest of the series is fine as is.

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Trivia:

-First book in the series to feature a prologue.  The Final Shuffle chapter basically counts as an epilogue.

-First appearances of Eddie and Odetta/Detta/Susannah, who will appear in all subsequent entries.

-Only book in the series to feature two sets of illustrations.  As you can see pictured throughout this blog article, Phil Hale‘s original 1987 illustrations all went for an American Gothic feel.  For the 1988 edition, he recreated every illustration in a more fantastical aesthetic.

-Although the book provides the reader with a general idea of which era each character is from, the specific years are not stated until later books.  Eddie is from 1987, Odetta/Detta from 1964, and Mort from 1977.

-Jake appears in a cameo, but only in scenes from the previous book that we see from a new perspective.

-Do you consider Jack Mort to count as an extension of Walter?  If not, then that makes this the only book in the series to not feature Walter.  If you do, as I myself do, then that makes this the final book of the series in which Walter/Mort is a major character.  He will appear in all five of the remaining books but only in cameos.

-This book makes a reference to Flagg, Thomas, and Dennis from THE EYES OF THE DRAGON, showing the stories are connected.  However, while Flagg is later revealed to be Walter, Thomas and Dennis never come up again in the series.  Some fans were disappointed by this, but I was okay with it, as there was already way too much going on in the later books.

-Eddie references the film version of THE SHINING, yet later in the series will say he’s never heard of Stephen King.  THE SHINING thus would appear to be a story that exists in different worlds by different authors.

-Susannah’s “set of wheels” changes throughout the series.  In this book she brings her old wooden wheelchair with her into Roland’s world, and will use it until the end of THE WASTE LANDS, when it is lost in Lud.  In WIZARD AND GLASS she gets a newer, modern wheelchair that she’ll use until the end of WOLVES OF THE CALLA when it gets busted and discarded.  In SONG OF SUSANNAH she has legs and can walk normally.  Finally, in DT7 she’s legless once more and uses various different vehicles throughout the book.

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FINAL SCORES

The Book Itself: Fun and enjoyable.  If you dislike the first book, you’ll find this one picks up the pace a lot and is more of a conventional adventure story.  If you love the first book, as I did, you’ll still enjoy this one, but definitely pick up on the change.  I like the book a lot, but must say it’s a pretty straightforward tale and lacking depth.  Verdict: This is the FOURTH BEST book of the seven.  A fun time, but very middle of the road.

Afterword: The afterwords for THE DRAWING OF THE THREE, THE WASTE LANDS, and WIZARD AND GLASS are all pretty much the same: SK is basically giving you a “Where I am now” in this ongoing work-in-progress.  These afterwords were nice; allowing you to see into the writer’s mind while the story was still taking form, and get a peak at what was coming next.  Verdict: DT2, DT3, and DT4 are all tied for the SECOND, THIRD, and FOURTH BEST of the entire series.

Illustrations: As mentioned before, Phil Hale created two sets of illustrations for this book.  The original 1987 drawings, which I always put on the left, are the set I grew up with.  They look very Gothic and gritty, and add to the Sergio Leone feel of this world.  Definitely a creative choice to pick such a Gothic style for a fantastical story.  I like these a lot.  The 1988 set of drawings, which I always put on the right, are okay.  They strike me as just a halfhearted attempt to “go full fantasy” on what was already created.  Verdict: This book has the THIRD BEST illustrations of the entire series.

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Click here for the next book in the series, and be ready to hop aboard Charlie the Choo-Choo!

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One thought on “Stephen King’s THE DARK TOWER Book Profile: THE DRAWING OF THE THREE

  1. Pingback: Stephen King’s THE DARK TOWER Book Profile: THE GUNSLINGER | Let Us Nerd

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