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The Grey King
Book 4 - The Dark is Rising Sequence
By Susan Cooper

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The Grey King
Book 4 - The Dark is Rising Sequence
By Susan Cooper
Thorndike Press - Large Print (2002)
ISBN: 0-7862-2919-5
Genre: Young Adult - Fantasy

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - August 19, 2002

Will Stanton may be immortal, but that doesn't mean he can't get sick. In fact, as The Grey King opens, we find that Will has been so sick with hepatitis that he doesn't even remember that he is one of the Old Ones, bent upon defeating the Dark forces for all time. To help speed his recovery along, he is sent to Wales to recuperate on a sheep farm run by a dear friend of his mother's.

Will takes to farm life immediately, and in short order finds his strength, and his memory returning. However the real breakthrough comes when he stares into the eyes of Cafall, a dog who protects Bran Davies. As Will's memory returns, he recognized Bran as the Raven Boy. It turns out the Bran is Welsh for crow, and Bran, although not an Old One, is not totally human, nor is his dog.

Bran is an albino, with white hair who always wears dark glasses to protect his eyes from the sun. Within moments of meeting, the two boys find themselves bent upon a quest to find the Golden Harp, one of the six enchanted Signs of the Light that will be needed to defeat the Dark. And Will knows only too well that the time of Dark's rising is drawing near, and he has little enough time to fulfill this quest. A quest for which he knows he will receive no aid from the other Old Ones.

Together the two boys must discover where the harp is hidden, and battle the Dark forces to make their way to the hiding place. Once they discover it, they find that actually reaching the harp will not be all that easy as the way to its resting place is protected by magical spells that they must break to gain safe passage. They also discover that alone, neither could have gained the harp.

Once they acquire the harp, their task is still not over, as they must use it to awaken the six sleeping horseman - but how? To make matter worse, the sleepers are guarded by the Grey King who is in league with the Dark. The Grey King does not want the sleepers awaken, and Will and Bran face many perils as they struggle to fulfil their task.

The Grey King is the forth book in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence, and unlike the previous book, the Drews children do not have a place in this story. In this volume, the central figure in Bran, and who, or what, he is. More so than the previous books, this volume is steeped in Arthurian legends and Welsh mythology. The Grey King will have you holding your breath as Bran and Will battle the forces of evil - and along the way, you'll learn some Welsh!

The Grey King was the winner of the Newbery Medal in 1976.


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