The second book in the Dark Tower series, The Drawing of the Three, is the continuing story of Roland on his quest to the Dark Tower. Picking up where the events of The Gunslinger left us, Roland has aged by almost ten years after his encounter with the Man in Black and is faced with a huge stretch of beach which he must now travel. Not only does Roland have to face this journey with little food or water, but he is soon attacked by lobster creatures that take off fingers from his right hand after which he is inflicted with a fever that grows ever worse. But all this is just a background to the bigger picture - the doors he finds along the beach that lead back to our world and into the heads of certain individuals.
The Drawing of the Three takes Roland and puts him firmly in an unknown situation, with some very interesting results. Thrown into our world is a completely different experience for Roland and we see this immediately with his conversations with people he encounters. What is worse is the fact that as he's taking over the body of someone else to do it and putting himself in danger in the process. However, King does a good job with Roland and lets us see more of his character and personality through these situations. Roland may be a stranger to these places, but he sure isn't stupid and knows what needs to be done - and how.
The interaction between Roland and the people he must communicate with is great. As the title suggests, there are three doors he must enter in order to draw his three. The first of these is Eddie Dean, a junkie and native New Yorker. Eddie is an interesting character because of his flaws and the fact that he isn't just another doped up waster. He has something special about him but has been led into the wrong situations in the past which has ended him up in some serious trouble. The second door leads to Odetta Holmes and Detta Walker, one woman with split personalities. Roland senses the difference in these two immediately - one is kindly while the other is vicious, all of which goes back to an incident in their childhood. Not only this, but Odetta/Detta has lost her legs and is bound to a wheelchair which does not help Roland in is journey across a difficult terrain. The last door leads to Jack Mort, a man whose private life is in stark contrast to his successful career. He is a murderous man behind the false front, pushing innocent bystanders into traffic, trains and anything else he can get away with without notice.
It's difficult for me to say too much about the encounters that Roland has with these people with really spoiling the story, but King has weaved a very impressive story here. Many fates are intertwined and the repercussions of the events here are going to be felt for a while to come. The interactions between the characters, specifically with Roland, is very interesting and we get to see more of what makes Roland such a formidable person, and not only through his fighting. There is always a sense of danger throughout The Drawing of the Three and I never once felt the story was playing it safe, all of which made the pages turn all the quicker. Some of the twists here work very well and although hinted at during the story I didn't fully appreciate the impact until the end, which has left the story open to progress at a good strong pace.
The Drawing of the Three is another reason to pick up this series and is a strong novel in its own right, although even at book two you must have read the first installment to fully appreciate many of the events. Highly recommended.