Friday, December 01, 2006

Waste of Time: The Drawing of The Three

I have just finished The Drawing of The Three by Stephen King, and I have to confess, I am deeply disappointed. To give brief background, The Dark Tower is Stephen King's dark fantasy series about a knight's quest to the Dark Tower in a world that has moved on. The tale is inspired by Robert Browning's famous poem "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came". Anyone who is interested in the series should read and study the poem, because it provide clues to what kind of story King is trying to tell. Stephen King claims that the series is his magnum opus.

In The Drawing of The Three, the second of seven novels, Roland, from The Gunslinger, makes preparationgs for his journey to the Dark Tower. While there are only very brief references in The Gunslinger, we are led to believe, that somehow there is a connection between Roland's world and our own. In The Drawing of the Three, we find that the connection is fleshed out. Roland is given three doors, all leading to different times periods in our world, to "draw" his companions for his trip. Much of what happens in the rest of the book takes place in our world.

Now for my reactions. I felt that the book was tediously longwinded. The story can be summed up in a paragraph, but took more than 400 pages to tell. Worst of all, the majority of those pages were not enjoyable reading material.

While King spent an surprising amount of time fleshing out the new characters, I felt that they were not only ill conceived, but less than believable. King's strong point has always been creating interesting and unforgettable characters that are believable as human beings. Without that, many of his horror stories could not have the impact that they do. It's the deeply human quality of his characters that makes you identify and thus fear for them.

From the first pages of The Gunslinger, Roland struck me as the sort of character---maybe a little cliched, a tad less than original---but a well-fleshed out archetype of the western hero. He is believable and intriguing. One can not say the same for his sidekicks in The Drawing of Three. Eddie and Odetta bored me. Much of what is said about the two felt contrived, from Eddie's heroism, to the love that is conviniently blossoming between the two, everything King does with the two seem forced rather than inspired.

The problem was that the whole book feels forced. And what needed to be told cover to cover, should have only taken a couple of chapters, not an entire book. Much is wasted on needlessly long action sequences, time jumps, and tedious backstory. It did not help that King's language in the book irked me. The gunslinger is this, Eddie is that. Odetta knew this. No showing, and a whole lot of telling that seemed too convinient.

For now, I'm not sure I care what happens to Roland, Eddie and Odetta. It's really Roland's history, his world and his purposes for the journey that intrigue me. But I am not sure I could survive another tedious book in the same vein to get to those things. That's the problem with planning of series of books to tell a story. You end up adding too much fluff and the story suffers.

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