The second volume of Stephen King's grand series begins when Roland of Gilead, the lest gunslinger, wakes on the shore of the western sea to discover that he is being attacked by a lobster like creature, only much bigger, quicker, and hungrier. Even Roland's lightning quick reflexes are not enough to come out of this battle unscathed. Roland loses two fingers of his right hand to the lobstrosity before killing it, and from now on he is a one handed fighter. Roland makes his way along the shore of the western sea, now feverish with the lobstrosity's poison. He is looking for doors through which he must draw three companions for his quest. This he had been told by the man in black when he had at last caught up with him in the first volume. The first door is marked The Prisoner, and through it Roland must draw Eddie Dean, a young man who is addicted to heroin which is his prison. But before Roland can draw Eddie, he must help him get out of the mess he is in, for Eddie is also a drug courier for the mob. Roland goes through the door to New York of 1987 to help Eddie out of his predicament and to draw him forth. Now he must contend with his new companion's addiction. There is no heroin in Roland's world. Together they come upon a second door marked The Lady of Shadows. Through it, Roland must draw Odetta Holmes, a young black woman who has lost both her legs when she was pushed by an unknown man in front of a subway train. Yet Odetta is not one woman, but two, for she is torn between two identities, the soft, kind and righteous Odetta, and the filthy talking, ruthless and crafty Detta.
As she comes through, Roland and Eddie must be on their guard for there is no knowing when Detta might gain control of Odetta's body. To make things worse, Eddie finds himself falling in love with Odetta. Roland is now so sick that the third door must serve as a conduit through which he will find medicine. The third door is marked the pusher. Roland goes through alone leaving Eddie to guard Detta. In New York Roland encounters the Pusher, Jack Mort, who years earlier pushed Odetta in front of the train. Roland uses his body to find ammunition for his guns and much needed antibiotics for himself. He then disposes of the Pusher in front of the same train which took Odetta's legs. He goes back through the door to find that Eddie has been left tied on the beach with lobstrosities approaching. Roland manages to save him and through his killing of Jack Mort he forces and inner transformation in Odetta, resulting with a third woman, Susannah who is a combination of Detta's craft and ability, and Odetta's kindness. Now healthy, Roland and his new companions continue their quest for the Dark Tower.