The Dark Is Rising Series by Susan Cooper.
Over Sea, Under Stone. Harcourt, Inc: NY, 1965.
The Dark Is Rising. Atheneum: NY, 1973. Newbery Honor 1974
Greenwitch. Atheneum: NY, 1974.
The Grey King. Atheneum: NY, 1975. Newbery Award 1976
Silver on the Tree. Athenuem: NY, 1977.

RL=5th-adult       *Some of the books may be challenging for grade levels under 7th.

I finished my second reading of The Dark Is Rising series. The first was 4 to 5 years ago, and I remember being excited and enthralled by it. This time, looking at it more objectively, I noticed that there is an excitement building within the books similar to an orchestra rising to a crescendo. This is an impressive achievement for the author. The series is a masterful work of storytelling. It has the complexity of Tolkien without the heaviness. The language is filled with the High Magic making the reading an awesome poetical experience.

The story just touches on Arthurian legend, and yet it still has a strong Arthurian feel. The books are heavily laced with a mystical and magical sense of purpose and of destiny, though a wrong turning at one point or another could change the whole outcome.

In Over Sea, Under Stone, Simon, Jane, and Barney find a crumbling manuscript with a map in the attic of an old house in Cornwall. They rejoice at the opportunity for a treasure hunt, and they become drawn into a much more important quest. It is a race between the forces of good and evil. As the story unfolds, there are references to the days of King Arthur and a hint of adventures to come in the rest of the series.
related-Cornwall, good vs evil, quest, King Arthur

In The Dark Is Rising, Will Stanton discovers that he is, like Merriman Lyon, one of the Old Ones-the immortals who strive unceasingly to curtail the domination of the Dark. His first task as a newly awakened Old One, is to gather the six Signs that are needed to overcome the Dark in the final battle, and in so doing, learn what it means to be an Old One and what is expected of him. During the twelve days of Christmas, the power of the Dark increases. Will is confronted by Dark forces throughout his quest as they try to stop the fulfillment of his destiny.

This complex fantasy is loaded with symbolism and allusions to ancient Celtic and English traditions and legends. Will has been drawn into a whole new world as he continues in his own family and village as well. The blending of his worlds is fantastical and spectacular. The book is a departure from the first. It can stand alone as a splendid story as well as being connected through the character of Merriman Lyon and the continuing contest of wills between the Light and Dark forces.
related-Buckinghamshire, good vs evil, quest, Christmas, village life, traditions and legends-Celtic and English

In Greenwitch, the grail has been stolen from its museum. Simon, Jane, and Barney return with Great-Uncle Merry to help restore it to the Light. They also wish to retrieve the scroll which is the key to the markings on the grail. Will Stanton joins them in their endeavors.

The creation of the Greenwitch is the centerpoint of the story. The local women construct the Greenwitch annually, and she is thrown into the sea as a sacrifice. Jane watches the ceremony in fear and sympathy. While humans made it and the Light and Dark can call it forth, controlling it is another matter since the Light and Dark have no authority over the Wild Magic. In the end, Jane's bond with the Greenwitch is an important factor in the resolution of their crisis.
related-good vs evil, Wild Magic, Cornwall

Like the 2nd book, The Grey King is laced heavily with symbolism and myth and legend. Will Stanton recuperates in Wales with relatives after a terrible illness and must fulfill his first quest without help from other Old Ones as he faces the strongest of the Dark forces yet. A local boy named Bran is introduced and will play a major part in the last book. This particular book also focuses more on human character-feelings, motivations, obsessions, and free will.
related-Wales, good vs evil, Pendragon

In Silver on the Tree, the Dark is rising for the last time. Bran and Will go in search of the crystal sword made for the Light but kept by the maker. The Drew children play a part in protecting Bran as he fulfills his destiny. As the Dark is challenging them, they are drawn through time to face fear, nightmares, and even death.

Silver on the Tree is totally wrapped in mystical symbolism. It is very much the Arthurian quest (a continuation of the quest in The Grey King). So heavily mythological, and yet, it works. There is again the blending of times through the use of the land (done to a greater extent in The Dark Is Rising).
related-Wales, good vs evil, Pendragon, Lost Land, dreams, nightmares

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