Thursday, December 12, 2013

Review - The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Short review: Will Stanton goes to Wales and meets Bran. Together they oppose the machinations of the Grey King and Bran meets his destiny.

Once he goes to Wales
Stanton meets albino Bran
Who is his father?

Full review: The Grey King is the fourth book in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising sequence. It is also my favorite book of the series. Perhaps this is because the book features Welsh and Arthurian myth so heavily, or perhaps it is just because I read this book for the first time when I was the target age for the book, or, as I believe, just because the book is simply that good. The book focuses once again on Will Stanton, but this time he is ill and sent to stay with his uncle in Wales to recuperate. Once there, he meets up with and befriends an albino loner named Bran.

The book is essentially a second coming of age story for Will Stanton, and he is aided by Bran along the way. They must unravel a series of mysteries, mostly by figuring out what some cryptic poetry means, and prepare for a coming confrontation between the Light and the Dark. Many of the disparate threads started in the first three books begin to be tied together in this book, and the true nature of many of the things the characters have done (and the true nature of some characters) is made clear. The novel is more grown up in tone than the earlier books in the series – Stanton is older, there is more danger, and the villains are creepier. Still, it is a young adult book, and a very well-written young adult book at that.

The book won a Newbery Medal in 1975, and the reasons for that seem abundantly clear when one reads it. I loved this book when I read it when I was eleven (even though I had not read any of the others in the series), and I loved it again when I reread it as an adult (as part of the series).

Previous book in the series: Greenwitch
Subsequent book in the series: Silver on the Tree

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