The Drawing Of The Three Journal #1

I like this book a lot.  I am drawn to it.  It is fast paced, has interesting characters, and even Roland – who I found so difficult in the first volume – is more engaging.


Want to write a good book?  I’m learning something as I read Stephen King – one element that seems pretty important is: Make your characters bleed!

King starts the novel by doing something rather daring – he severely cripples his primary character.  Does this seem like a good idea when the tower is so far away?  As a reader, I love it.  I would think that this would give King pause as a writer.  He is limiting himself to writing around Roland’s missing fingers for all remaining dark tower stories.

In the Gunslinger, Roland seemed mythic.  The monstrosities he encounters on the beach humanize the ole chap.  Roland will be allowed to continue his quest, but he will do it as a wounded man.  This reminds me of Jacob wrestling with God. God pulled his leg out of joint, forcing the father of the Hebrews to walk with a limp for the rest of his life.  This knocks the arrogant Jacob down more than a few pegs!  It also forces him to rely on God and be kinder to others.  King does this with his creation.  By wounding Roland, the self confident gunslinger must now rely on others.  He is not so self-sufficient after all.

More than crippling Roland with the loss of a few fingers, King also allows Roland to experience deep guilt over his betrayal of Jake.  Of course, to really get the full impact of that betrayal, I think you have to read the original version of the Gunslinger – as it seems more tempered in the new version.  The Drawing of the Three reveals that Roland is a man in desperate need of redemption.

The people Roland will draw to himself are likewise very broken.  If people seemed healthy in the Gunslinger, that well being is no where to be found in this novel!  Not only is the gunslinger now in a world of hurt, but he will join to himself a druggie and a cripple.  Some gang!  But this is exactly what makes King’s writing so powerful.

Wounding the characters, limiting them in some way, makes them more interesting.  What makes the story of David and Goliath so memorable?  That David was small and weak.  If Israel had just marched out their giant, and the Philistines had marched out there giant and the Hebrew giant killed the Philistine giant. . . there’s nothing to get excited about.  It is only when little David comes out to fight mighty Goliath that his victory seems all the more incredible.  In this case, it is this weak cast of characters coming against the Darkman and the Crimson King that make the story interesting.  The deck is stacked against them.

Door Jam:

One of my favorite parts of the novel is when Roland steps through the door and into Eddie Dean’s head!  It’s brilliant! The first thing Roland sees is the horizon.  He realizes that he is in a sky carriage.  He has the good luck of stepping into someone’s body who happens to be smuggling drugs.  Drugs are exactly what Roland needs!

New problems arise for me as I read through the Dark Tower again.  These are problems I struggled with the first time I read this story.  (Actually, I’ve read the first few books many many times).

Here’s my problem: Where did the doors come from?  I don’t remember ever being told.

I once wrote a story – a very good story, in my 15 year old opinion of work – about a society cut off from the rest of the world.  The discovered a cave full of books.  The cave was lit by candles.  (It was actually a bomb shelter)  You see the problem. . . right?  My sister immediately asked the most annoying question in the world: “Hey, who lights the candles?”  I dunno!  Maybe an old man with a dog named Harry.  Beats me!  Who lights the candles was not important to my story.

I fear that in much the same way – the origin of the doors is not important to King’s story.  The doors simply move the story forward.

My wife says that the “how” is not important to the fantasy genre.  Maybe that’s why I have trouble with this.  At least in Science Fiction there has to be a bit of science. . . in fantasy, things just appear!

picture credit by PAV
lunchtime sketches


  1. Do you need a specific answer to the question of where the doors came from?

    Here's the thing: whether you want to look at this novel -- and the overall series -- as a fantasy novel or a sci-fi novel (and it can be looked at either way), the answer to that question I just posed is "no." (For me, it's a no, at least; it might be a yes for you, or for others. Evidence indicates that it's also a no for Stephen King, though, since he never passed the answer along to us.)

    For the sake of discussion, though, let's go with the "yes" option.

    If it's a fantasy novel, then the answer to the question "Where did the door come from?" is simple and implicit: it's a magic door. Bingo! Problem solved. Who put it there? A magician, of course! Maybe it was Maerlyn; if not him, then some other wise old mage who knew Roland would need it.

    If it's a sci-fi novel (which is how I think of it, mostly), then the answer is more complicated, but just as implicit: the door came from ... someone VERY advanced and powerful, or someone who wields some very advanced and powerful technology. Could still be Maerlyn, I suppose, but not necessarily.

    Either way, Roland's lack of understanding is a fundamental element of the overall story. Roland doesn't know where the door came from, either. Roland is so obsessed with the idea of reaching the Tower than I'm not sure he ever even takes a moment to wonder where such a door might have come from. You could, theoretically, interpret that as a sign that such miracles and/or wonders are a commonplace thing in Roland's world, but it seems more likely to me that Roland is simply too dull-minded to care.

    I'M not too dull-minded to care, though, and I'll tell you the answer I have for my own purposes: the door comes from the far future of a world similar to our own, and was the result of a campaign by the Tet Corporation to combat the Sombra Corporation. They created many such doors (as did Sombra), one of which was never properly closed, and eventually allowed a teacher named Jake Epping to go through it.

    That's my story, at least, and it works for me!

    There is, of course, another option: the doors were put there by "Stephen King" himself, who knew Roland would need them to meet up with Eddie and Susannah and Jack.

    This is making my head hurt...

  2. This is the book where King says the series really found it's voice, and people have commented on the difference in Roland. However I never had a problem making the transition from the first book to the second, especially not the unedited first book. It all flow along smoothly for me.

    I will say King's prose in this volumes rocks and rolls, this book's style is in full cool cat mode and firing on all cylinders , and it's fun as hell. Gosh were did THIS king go! That guy was fun to hang out with.

    As for the doors, my take is the fictional Tower version of Stephen King put them there...Sorry.


    1. P.S

      You owe it to yourself to find a copy of the King narrated audiobook Reverend.

      Seriously, his voice brings the whole book alive and ratchets the fun way past 11.

      It's THAT good!


    2. I have the King narrated audio book right here on my desk. Ebay, $10. Problem is, it's a tape, so I have to listen to it here. . . at the office. . . and everyone is going to ask, "What are you listening to? Is that a sermon tape?"

  3. See, you guys just don't want to admit: The doors are a problem! No publisher would let YOU get away with it without asking, "Hey, how did the doors get there?" Who runs the doors? Who is the door keeper? (This sounds like ghostbusters)

    1. They'd have been a problem in The Catcher in the Rye. In a sci-fi/fantasy novel, not so much.

  4. Heh, you know something Reverend you sound ike me on a similar if unrelated aspect of the series. For whatever reason I find irking that King would would reduce great books like Shining, Salem's Lot and It and reduce them in the Tower series to nothing more than books the fictional version of him wrote. Granted that's all they are in real life, that's fine, the thing is I think it just robs the characters of those books of their hard won victories and cheapens the stories.

    For whatever reason I side with Tolkien who says that stories like this must be as consistent as possible at least in terms of overall picture if not the details. Therefore it makes more sense, to me at least, to imagine the fictional version of King as a character inhabiting the same world of Castle Rock, Derry and the Overlooks along with the Losers and Father Callahan. That's the solution Tolkien would do anyway.

    As for the door, that's still not such a big deal once you find out it's a book come to life on a fictional version of the author, there's the answer to the whole series.


    1. See, I think King is doing anything BUT reducing them. I think his whole argument in the DT series is to say that storytelling is essentially the lifeblood of the universe.

      I don't see that as marginalizing those other stories at all.

    2. Well, I don't argue with the idea of stories as lifeblood, indeed I've since read several book that convince me stories might have survival value, however the point I was making was in terms of, I guess, aesthetic consistency.

      Tolkien believed that if you make a story, you are making an imaginary secondary world, and that the world should be as consistent as possible. For Tolkien, and this case for me also, the creation of an imaginary secondary world nonetheless means the obligation to treat it with as much artistic care as possible. In effect, the author is obligated to treat the story and it's characters almost as if they were real people and at accordingly by letting them tell the story in their own way with as little authorial intrusion as possible.

      Yeah, I know, Tolkien did take his job seriously, maybe a little too seriously. And yet...damn it I can't help thinking he's right.


  5. “I think the doors on the beach—the ones that led into the world you both came from—were like the pivot at the center of a child’s teeterboard. Do you know what that is?” “Seesaw?” Susannah asked, and tipped her hand back and forth to demonstrate. “Yes!” Roland agreed, looking pleased. “Just so. On one end of this sawsee-” “Seesaw,” Eddie said, smiling a little.
    “Yes. On one end, my ka. On the other, that of the man in black— Walter. The doors were the center, creations of the tension between two opposing destinies.”

    Excerpt From: Stephen, King. “Darktower 3 - The Waste Lands.” iBooks.
    This material may be protected by copyright.