I can see why now that Stephen King revised The Gunslinger, as The Drawing of the Three becomes a more traditional fantasy novel than the five short stories that made up the first novel in The Dark Tower series. Here the scope of King’s vision grows, even if the book is overlong. But here he brings the first two of the people whom the man in black mentioned Roland will need in his epic voyage to The Dark Tower.
A little over seven hours have passed since the end of the first book, and Roland wakes up on a beach, where he is suddenly attacked by a strange, lobster-like creatures which he dubs a "lobstrosity" (Did-a-chick? Dum-a-chum? Dad-a-cham? Ded-a-check?) whom quickly takes a few chunks out Roland (an index and middle finger of his right hand, and his right big toe) before he kills it and –of course- the wounds quickly become infected. But his despite his feverish body and loss of strength, Roland continues his journey, searching for the three doors that the people he needs. Each door opens onto New York City at different periods in time (1987, 1964 and 1977, respectively) and, as Roland passes through these doors, he brings back the companions who will join him on his quest to the Dark Tower. So with the majority of the action taking place in New York, Mid-World largely only appears in framing sequences, and is propelled by a mind-sharing conceit that King sets up early and explores the ramifications of deliberately for the rest of the book (something I think Wesley Chu borrowed for his Tao series).
What I remember about the book from the first time around was Eddie Dean, the young drug addict that (like many King characters) has a heart of gold. Also, there is Odetta Holmes, a black woman with dissociative identity disorder who is active in the civil rights movement. She is wealthy and missing her legs below the knees after being pushed in front of a subway train. Odetta is completely unaware that she has an alternate personality, the violent, predatory woman named Detta Walker.
I did not like Detta. Not back then and still not today. Part of the reason, I think comes from not liking a writer –a white writer- use that kind of language, in particular the N word and the slang. I can’t explain why I dislike it, but I do.
Like I said, I do think the book goes on way too long. I give credit to King to write much longer, much linear novel than the first one, a book that essentially takes place in just a day or two. He also does a bit of retcon here, as it’s implied in The Gunslinger that the man in black killed Jake, but now we meet Jack Mort, a sociopath who –coincidentally- is the man who pushed Jake into traffic and who injured Odetta a few times over the years. I missed that the first time around. I wonder how much I’ve really missed in these early books.