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The Grey King (The Dark Is Rising Sequence) Paperback – May 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-While recovering from hepatitis, Will Stanton is sent to a farm in Wales where he is soon caught up in the battle against "the Dark." He struggles to recall the prophetic lines he once memorized and gradually, as he learns the local place names of the geographic features around him, the meaning of the lines becomes clear to him. Through Bran, a young boy with mysterious origins who becomes Will's friend, Will fulfills the prophecies and once again defeats the Dark. This fourth book of Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series (S&S Childrens, 1975) won the 1976 Newbery Medal. Twenty-five years later, it is still as powerful and mesmerizing as when it was first published. Richard Mitchley's reading is excellent and heightens listeners' enjoyment of Cooper's prose. His ease with Welsh pronunciation and the distinctive cadence of Welsh English adds greatly to the authenticity of the story's setting, which is an essential element of this book. He gives the characters distinctive voices without actually doing voices for each. Children not familiar with the earlier books in the series may find the basic premise a bit confusing since Will's status as an "old one" and the conflict between the light and the dark are not given much explanation. However, this audiobook is so well done that those who enjoy fantasy will relish it. It will also be a good choice for older children with reading disabilities when they need to "read" a Newbery title.

Louise L. Sherman, formerly Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Psychology Today "Susan Cooper is one of the few contemporary writers who has the vivid imagination, the narrative powers, and the moral vision that permit her to create the kind of sweeping conflict between good and evil that lies at the heart of all great fantasy. Tolkien had it. So did C.S. Lewis. And Cooper writes in the same tradition." -- Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: The Dark Is Rising Sequence
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; Reprint edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416949674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416949671
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Cooper is best known for her acclaimed five-book fantasy sequence "The Dark is Rising," which won a Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor Award, and two Carnegie Honor Awards. Born in England in 1935, she became a reporter and feature writer for the London Sunday Times--her first boss was James Bond creator Ian Fleming--before moving to the United States in 1963. Her first novels were "Mandrake" and the autobiographical "Dawn of Fear," followed by the complete Dark is Rising sequence (Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King; Silver on the Tree). The sequence, deeply rooted in the rich heritage of Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology, is a classic work of children's literature, still in print after 40 years. Cooper went on to write other well-received children's novels, including "Seaward," "The Boggart" and its sequel "The Boggart and the Monster," "Green Boy," "King of Shadows," and "Victory," as well as several picture books for young readers with illustrators such as Ashley Bryan and Warwick Hutton. She has also written books for adults, as well as plays and Emmy-nominated screenplays (some in collaboration with her second husband, the actor Hume Cronyn). Recent books include the collaborative project "The Exquisite Corpse Adventure" and her biography of Jack Langstaff titled "The Magic Maker." Her latest young adult novel is "Ghost Hawk." Ms. Cooper lives in Marshfield MA. Visit her on Facebook or on her website at

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Fisher TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although it is not my personal favourite, "The Grey King," the fourth book in "the Dark is Rising" sequence is generally considered the best in the series, and is the winner of the Newbery Medal. Following on from the other books, Will Stanton (an Old One of the Light, who protects humanity from the forces of the Dark) travels to Wales, in order to fetch the golden harp, which in turn will wake the mysterious Sleepers, fulfilling the next part of the prophesy chronicling the battle between Light and Dark.

But the circumstances surrounding his visit are grim: after a serious illness he has been sent to relatives in order to convalesce, and soon finds that he cannot remember the vital phrases of the prophesy. Though he can only remember bits and pieces, he is aware that he is meant to seek help from "the raven boy" and "silver eyes that see the wind" - whatever that means. Amongst his cheery relatives things are well, but in the hidden farmlands he soon meets a young albino boy named Bran and his silver-eyed dog Cafall. Bran's mother disappeared when he was just a baby, leaving him in the care of Owen Davis, a devout and religious man who is kind, but strict with the lonely Bran. Though he is obviously unusual, only Will can see that there is something so much more to Bran than meets the eye.

He also meets John Rowlands, an aged and immensely wise farmer who is one of the few human beings who could possibly understand Will's task, and Caradog Pritchard, a hideously bad-tempered man who is out to make things difficult for everyone around him. But beyond all of this is the malevolence of one of the greatest powers of the Dark: the Grey King and his vicious grey foxes who are out to prevent the Light from gaining their advantage with the golden harp.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 23, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Dark Is Rising" is a hard book to top, but Susan Cooper nearly matches it in "Grey King." A stunning, atmospheric Welsh fantasy tinged with Arthurian legend, it also introduces one of the most important and unusual characters in the classic series.
In the aftermath of a nasty case of hepatitis, Will Stanton has temporarily forgotten his mission from the Light: to recover a golden harp, with the help of the "raven boy" and "silver eyes that see the wind." When his family sends him to Wales to recover from the illness, he regains his memory when he meets an albino boy his own age named Bran -- which means "raven." Bran's mother "Gwenny" vanished many years before, and his stepfather has devoted himself to religion and penitance. Bran's only friend is the silver-eyed dog Cafall.
Will acquaints his new friend with more information about the battle with the Dark, while Bran acquaints him with information about Wales that can help Will find the golden harp, and wake the Sleepers under the hill. But the malevolent Grey King is spying on them with magical warestones and trying to wrest the harp from Will. To stop the Grey King, Will must learn the secret of Bran's past and evade the dangerous farmer Caradog Pritchard...
Atmosphere is thick and enticing in "Grey King" -- Cooper has clearly come a long way from the fluffier "Over Sea Under Stone." This book, unlike "Greenwitch," does not handle the Drew family, or even much about Merriman: it's all about Bran and Will, who are given equal parts of the plotline. Though there are many other characters, these two are the core of the story.
Here the Arthurian theme, which has been present in a smaller way throughout the series, becomes more pronounced and integral.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book opens with a Welsh poem: "On the day of the dead,when the year too dies/Must the youngest open the oldest hills/Throughthe door of the birds, where the breeeze breaks..." A beatiful, mystical and magical beginning to a beatiful, mystical and magical book.
We see Will Stanton, a seemingly normal English boy struck terribly ill, go to Wales to visit his aunt and uncle to recuperate, where he will have the adventure of perhaps a lifetime, sweeping everybody around him, including the reader into it. As we read of his quest to awaken the Sleepers, we learn a little Welsh culture, history, and language. We feel the emotions of the characters involved; experience their sorrow, bewilderment, hatred and joy. We dabble in a little High Magic, and realize the presence of the Dark, and the Light's endless struggle against it.
One of the great things about this book is that you don't have to read the other parts of the series to understand, and become swept up in the magic of it. Even though it's the second to last book, it was the first I read of the series. It speaks for itself.
If you liked C. S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia", you'll probably enjoy these books. It's the same struggle between good and evil told in a new way, and though I think this series is the easier read, it loses nothing off it's competion.
Diolch yn fawr!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on November 11, 2005
Format: Audio Cassette
Beautifully written and dramatically narrated, The Grey King is yet another of this fine author's fantasy series about a young boy unwittingly destined to fight the final battle between the light and the dark on planet earth. Will Stanton is portrayed realistically as an untested, frequently confused adolescent Old One who must summon up the courage to persist in this conflict no matter what terrifying threats the Dark conjures up to destroy him and all things good. The Grey King takes place in Wales, one of the most mythic places on earth. Cooper skillfully weaves folklore into this compelling adventure story, full of characters that come alive as loveable, hateful, and most of all, fully human. The narrator's mastery of drama and British accents is a delight. Highly recommended - if you enjoy Harry Potter, try the Dark is Rising series, no matter what your age.
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