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Paperback The Grey King Book

ISBN: 0689829841

ISBN13: 9780689829840

The Grey King

(Book #4 in the The Dark Is Rising Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

Will Stanton must face a powerful agent of the Dark in this Newbery Medal-winning fourth installment of Susan Cooper's epic The Dark Is Rising Sequence, now with a brand-new look There is a Welsh... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings


Beautifully written and dramatically narrated, The Grey King is yet another of this fine author's fantasy series about a young boy unwittingly destined to fight the final battle between the light and the dark on planet earth. Will Stanton is portrayed realistically as an untested, frequently confused adolescent Old One who must summon up the courage to persist in this conflict no matter what terrifying threats the Dark conjures up to destroy him and all things good. The Grey King takes place in Wales, one of the most mythic places on earth. Cooper skillfully weaves folklore into this compelling adventure story, full of characters that come alive as loveable, hateful, and most of all, fully human. The narrator's mastery of drama and British accents is a delight. Highly recommended - if you enjoy Harry Potter, try the Dark is Rising series, no matter what your age.

"He's a Lonely Boy, and Had a Strange Life..."

Although it is not my personal favourite, "The Grey King," the fourth book in "the Dark is Rising" sequence is generally considered the best in the series, and is the winner of the Newbery Medal. Following on from the other books, Will Stanton (an Old One of the Light, who protects humanity from the forces of the Dark) travels to Wales, in order to fetch the golden harp, which in turn will wake the mysterious Sleepers, fulfilling the next part of the prophesy chronicling the battle between Light and Dark. But the circumstances surrounding his visit are grim: after a serious illness he has been sent to relatives in order to convalesce, and soon finds that he cannot remember the vital phrases of the prophesy. Though he can only remember bits and pieces, he is aware that he is meant to seek help from "the raven boy" and "silver eyes that see the wind" - whatever that means. Amongst his cheery relatives things are well, but in the hidden farmlands he soon meets a young albino boy named Bran and his silver-eyed dog Cafall. Bran's mother disappeared when he was just a baby, leaving him in the care of Owen Davis, a devout and religious man who is kind, but strict with the lonely Bran. Though he is obviously unusual, only Will can see that there is something so much more to Bran than meets the eye. He also meets John Rowlands, an aged and immensely wise farmer who is one of the few human beings who could possibly understand Will's task, and Caradog Pritchard, a hideously bad-tempered man who is out to make things difficult for everyone around him. But beyond all of this is the malevolence of one of the greatest powers of the Dark: the Grey King and his vicious grey foxes who are out to prevent the Light from gaining their advantage with the golden harp. Merriman Lyon, the linking factor in all five books has only a minor role here, and the Drew children are not present at all - this is solely Will's quest that he must fulfil by himself, with Bran as the last major player in the series to be introduced. By its end we are all set to head into the final book "Silver on the Tree". It will help if you know basic Arthurian lore (in particular the love-triangle), since Cooper is subtle in her meanings, and never spells it out entirely. Bran's mother's situation will only resonant if you are fully aware of who she is revealed to be and what she once did. And of course, it is necessary to have read the previous books in the series in order to grasp the full meaning of what's going on here. A criticism levelled toward these books at one stage, were that they were too black-and-white: there was a Light side and a Dark side, the goodies and the baddies and that was all there was to it. But here for the first time, Cooper adds little touches of grey to the matter, or at least makes you look at the opposites in a different way. It is Rowlands that points out that the Light can be just as merciless and unforgiving as the Dark, that "at the centre of the Light is


"The Dark Is Rising" is a hard book to top, but Susan Cooper nearly matches it in "Grey King." A stunning, atmospheric Welsh fantasy tinged with Arthurian legend, it also introduces one of the most important and unusual characters in the classic series.In the aftermath of a nasty case of hepatitis, Will Stanton has temporarily forgotten his mission from the Light: to recover a golden harp, with the help of the "raven boy" and "silver eyes that see the wind." When his family sends him to Wales to recover from the illness, he regains his memory when he meets an albino boy his own age named Bran -- which means "raven." Bran's mother "Gwenny" vanished many years before, and his stepfather has devoted himself to religion and penitance. Bran's only friend is the silver-eyed dog Cafall.Will acquaints his new friend with more information about the battle with the Dark, while Bran acquaints him with information about Wales that can help Will find the golden harp, and wake the Sleepers under the hill. But the malevolent Grey King is spying on them with magical warestones and trying to wrest the harp from Will. To stop the Grey King, Will must learn the secret of Bran's past and evade the dangerous farmer Caradog Pritchard...Atmosphere is thick and enticing in "Grey King" -- Cooper has clearly come a long way from the fluffier "Over Sea Under Stone." This book, unlike "Greenwitch," does not handle the Drew family, or even much about Merriman: it's all about Bran and Will, who are given equal parts of the plotline. Though there are many other characters, these two are the core of the story.Here the Arthurian theme, which has been present in a smaller way throughout the series, becomes more pronounced and integral. Cooper continues interweaving mythic elements into it, such as the Sleepers, Cafall the dog, and the Brenin Llwyd. Fans of mythology and other mythic-themed stories such as the Prydain Chronicles will have a heyday.Will is very much like he is in "Greenwitch" -- sometimes he's an ordinary preteen boy who starts yelling "Achtung!" at the top of his lungs, and sometimes he is the wise and ancient Old One, with knowledge he learned from the book of Gramarye. Bran is an instantly sympathetic character, a very ordinary boy with an extraordinay past; he, like Will in the second book, gradually grows into a unique and more powerful person. Caradog Pritchard will inspire disgust from his first appearance onward, while the tragic Owen Davies will gain the sympathy of the readers despite his insulated life.Perhaps the worst thing about reading "Grey King" is the knowledge that there is only one more book in this series. But if that book is half as good as "Grey King," then it will be quite a ride before the end.

A Magical Read

The book opens with a Welsh poem: "On the day of the dead,when the year too dies/Must the youngest open the oldest hills/Throughthe door of the birds, where the breeeze breaks..." A beatiful, mystical and magical beginning to a beatiful, mystical and magical book.We see Will Stanton, a seemingly normal English boy struck terribly ill, go to Wales to visit his aunt and uncle to recuperate, where he will have the adventure of perhaps a lifetime, sweeping everybody around him, including the reader into it. As we read of his quest to awaken the Sleepers, we learn a little Welsh culture, history, and language. We feel the emotions of the characters involved; experience their sorrow, bewilderment, hatred and joy. We dabble in a little High Magic, and realize the presence of the Dark, and the Light's endless struggle against it.One of the great things about this book is that you don't have to read the other parts of the series to understand, and become swept up in the magic of it. Even though it's the second to last book, it was the first I read of the series. It speaks for itself.If you liked C. S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia", you'll probably enjoy these books. It's the same struggle between good and evil told in a new way, and though I think this series is the easier read, it loses nothing off it's competion.Diolch yn fawr!
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