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The Dark is Rising
Book 2 - The Dark is Rising Sequence
By Susan Cooper

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The Dark Is Rising

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The Dark Is Rising
Large Print Edition
Book 2 - The Dark is Rising Sequence
By Susan Cooper
Thorndike Press - Large Print (2001)
ISBN: 0-7862-2920-9
Genre: Young Adult - Fantasy

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - August 19, 2002

On Will Stanton's eleventh birthday he discovered something amazing about himself - he wasn't human, at least not in the way that we judge humanity. Will is the seventh son, of a seventh son, and on his eleventh birthday he discovers that he is the youngest, and last Old One to be born. Old Ones are mystical beings that live outside of time. They look like humans, and the feel like humans, i.e., they can be hurt, but they cannot die. They also have the power to travel back and forth in time, as well as an assorted bag of other tricks.

Upon reaching his eleventh year, Will discovers that he has acquired a whole set of powers, and knowledge, that he did not have before. New to his new powers, Will needs a teacher, and Merriman Lyon steps in to fill the vacancy. As we soon discover, Merriman Lyon is also one of the immortal Old Ones, but whereas Will is the youngest Old One, Merriman is the oldest.

We first met Merriman in Over Sea, Under Stone the first book in the The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. In that book he took a back seat roll, acting as an advisor to the Drew children as they went on a quest to obtain the Grail for the forces of Light. In this book, The Dark is Rising Merriman takes a more active role, helping Will discover the true depths of his new talent, and helping him to ascertain his role as the Sign Seeker.

As the Sign Seeker, Will must fulfil his destiny by seeking out the six magical Signs of the Light. These signs will be needed by the forces of the Light when they battle the forces of the Dark in one final, winner take all, competition. In seeking the six signs, Will faces many fearsome beings, including The Rider, one of the high lords of the dark. He also meets many 'good' people, such as the Lady, whom he meets in many different periods of time as he weaves back and forth between the past and the present. Along the way, Will also learns a great deal about men, and how a kind word given at the right moment has the power to turn one toward goodness, or evil.

As the knowledge of the Old Ones awakens in Will, he becomes old before his time - at least inwardly. Outwardly he is still an eleven-year-old boy with chores to do, and classes to attend, and who still reveals in the joy of opening a Christmas present. He also discovers that many of the people that he has known for years are also Old Ones, and they have been waiting for a very long time for his birth, as he is the first Old One to be born in over 500 years.

The Dark is Rising was a Newbery Honor Book, and is, in my opinion far superior to the first book in this series, Over Sea, Under Stone. There is a lot more action this book, and Cooper does a better job of building the tension. She also does an excellent job of chronicling the changes that Will undergoes as he comes into his new powers. This book also has a decidedly more mystical bent than does the first. In its pages you also learn more about who the Dark represents and why it is vital for the Light to win the upcoming battle. Although I liked The Dark is Rising better than Over Sea, Under Stone, it was only in a matter of degrees. Both books are excellent, and this series will delight readers of all ages.

The Dark is Rising and Over Sea, Under Stone, the first book in this series, can be read out of sequence. This is because each book is primarily independent, the only real connection between them being the rising danger posed by the Dark Forces, and the presence of Merriman Lyon. However, you should read both books before preceding onto Greenwitch, the third book in this series, because here you will find that elements from books one and two are brought together.

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