The Drawing of the Three

"Being a necessary addition to the series does not stop this from being a somewhat boring read."

Title: The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower II)
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 454
ISBN: 978-0-340-82976-9

Books can contain places epic and far reaching, expansive and huge, worlds that defy all logic and reason, locations so large that, in order to tell its full story, you must spread it out across several different books. The setting of Stephen King's Dark Tower series does just that. However this can lead to a problem, one that this book suffers heavily from; despite being a part of a great series, can a single book stand as an individual entity?

The Drawing of the Three is the second in the Dark Tower series and is undoubtedly a very integral addition, namely as it introduces the (other) main characters that are set to be present for a very long time. But aside from that this book is little more than the several 'origin' stories it details within.
Despite its predecessor (The Gunslinger) being a smaller read it does a far better job within its small amount of pages at extensive world creation, in the second book such world building is put on the back burner - everything either takes place on an endless beach or in a well known city - in order to offer a more character driven story.
Normally this would be fine, King is a master as creating characters, yet in this book it just becomes repetitive and even boring at stages.
King began to write the Dark Tower series just to see if he could, with no real end goal in mind when he first started out, this idea is painfully obvious in this entry. By having an unending scope to his series he is able to spend a lot more time on his characters introductions than he normally would have. Now, as King's characters are often either horrible people or have had something horrible done to them, over exposure to such elements can make it hard to feel for them.
One of the main reasons I loved the character of Roland in the first book is because he was such a mystery; in the second outing we learn almost everything there is to know about these newly introduced characters, despite the fact that, aside from informing us about certain quirks and personality traits, it does little to progress the story.
Finishing the book and being no closer to the end goal dramatically hinted at us in the first book left me frustrated. Yes I was eager to read the next in the series to find out what happened but it had felt that I had just wasted several hours getting to that point.

In my opinion the best type of book that exists within a series is one that, in addition to adding to the created world as a whole, can stand alone as a solitary entry. Think the Pratchett books or the individual outings of A Series of Unfortunate Events. Yes, when read as a whole they offer a much more broad and enjoyable experience - being able to spot hints and clues hidden within the pages is always my favourite part of reading - yet I can grab any of the books from within the series and read it if the mood takes me.
After finishing The Drawing of the Three I felt that the only time I would pick it up again would be if I was re-reading the entire series as a whole, not if I wanted to dip my toe into a specific entry into an otherwise captivating series.

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