Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Grey King (1976)

The Grey King is the fourth in author Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence.  As such, I was worried that I would have no idea what was going on. (Kind of like The High King several books ago.)  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to read the previous three to understand.  Although I have gone back and read the whole series now.

Will Stanton has been sick and is sent to relatives in Wales to recuperate.  Strange things begin to happen and memories resurface until he fully remembers his true identity and purpose.  He is an Old One, a special soul who is born to fight the Dark.  He must free the Grey King to help forward the cause of the Light, as the forces of the Dark conspire to stop him. 

Arthurian and Welsh legends are updated to fit Cooper's story.  One of the characters, Bran, befriends Will and their destinies are intertwined as we find out that Bran is actually Arthur's son, brought forward through time to keep him safe.  Speaking of time, there is some time slipping in this book.  (The whole series actually. It isn't so bad in this book, but in book 2, The Dark Is Rising, and book 5, Silver on the Tree, it gets quite weird and confusing at times.)

One part of the book I really liked was a pronunciation guide to Welsh.  Bran teaches Will how to say Welsh words properly.  I have always wondered how to pronounce Welsh as it looks so crazy.  So now I know.  :)

I liked this book fine, it is totally appropriate for the older elementary school audience.  I will say that I enjoyed book 1, Over Sea, Under Stone, and book 3, Greenwitch, better. They include 3 siblings who work with their "Uncle" Merry (Merlin), to help stop the Dark.  They are not Old Ones, but Merry gives some great explanations of the Dark, or what we would call Evil, and how it creeps into the hearts of men and what we can do to curb it and turn it away.

Cooper, Susan. The Grey King. Simon and Schuster, 1975.

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