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The Grey King (The Dark is Rising, #4)
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The Grey King (The Dark is Rising #4)

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  21,969 ratings  ·  471 reviews
"Fire on the Mountain Shall Find the Harp of Gold Played to Wake the Sleepers, Oldest of the Old..."

With the final battle between the Light and the Dark soon approaching, Will sets out on a quest to call for aid. Hidden within the Welsh hills is a magical harp that he must use to wake the Sleepers - six noble riders who have slept for centuries.

But an illness has robbe...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Margaret K. McElderry Books (first published 1975)
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Steven Jameson They had us read this over summer vacation when I was in elementary school, I didn't realize until now that it's part of a series. I thought something…moreThey had us read this over summer vacation when I was in elementary school, I didn't realize until now that it's part of a series. I thought something was off but it wasn't enough for me to question it I guess.(less)
The Giver by Lois LowryHoles by Louis SacharA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Most Deserving Newbery
36th out of 93 books — 2,128 voters
The Giver by Lois LowryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleHoles by Louis SacharNumber the Stars by Lois LowryBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Newbery Medal Winner Books
26th out of 93 books — 251 voters

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Community Reviews

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Normally, The Grey King would be my favourite of the five books that make up this sequence. Something about the setting in Wales, and Bran's loneliness and arrogance, and of course the tie-in with Arthuriana, and the way that it begins to bring in some more moral ambiguity when John Rowlands questions the coldness at the heart of the Light. Somehow, I didn't love it as much as usual this time -- possibly because I'd just spent a lot of time debating the merits of Greenwitch with various people,...more
This one is probably my favourite book of the series. It always makes me feel hiraeth. One day, I need to visit the parts of Wales these books are set in, really. And get someone to coach me on how to pronounce them: the section where Bran teaches Will is quite helpful, but not as good as hearing someone say the place names. Alas, I speak very little Welsh.

I think Bran is my favourite character of the series. Barney's cute, but Bran has more depth, with his troubled past and how much he has to d...more
It's pretty much a tradition for me now to reread this series at this time of year, so I wanted to get it done before we move into 2013. The 2012 reread of The Dark is Rising sees me struggling with anxiety and depression issues, and I nearly didn't get round to reading this, this year. But it is my comfort reading, so it was a good idea that I just planted myself firmly down with the book in hand today -- the same old battered copy as always, of course.

To my mind, this is the point in the seque...more
Maggie Stiefvater
*Happy sigh* I just finished rereading this one again last night. With the exception of the first book in the Dark is Rising series, I love all of them -- atmospheric, dreamy, and creepy, the lot of them. And steeped in old folklore and told in lovely prose so that they feel like they grew out of the ground instead of being written by a modern author.

I cannot recommend them highly enough . . . but do read them in order.
Jun 04, 2007 Lexish rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle school onwards
Shelves: newbery
This is one of the most well-written young adult books I've ever read. They don't write 'em like this anymore, kids! There's a reason Susan Cooper won the Newberry Medal for this. Her incredible, melodic descriptive language and her ability to interweave history, mythology, legend, and good old-fashioned fiction bring this book far beyond a traditional "boy with special powers" book. If you appreciate the English language and if you have an interest in history and legend, this one is for you. Su...more
Ben Babcock
I’ve been making a slow tour through Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence for a few months now. It’s undeniably an important series in the fantasy canon, but my personal reaction to it has been more ambivalent. I have been rather disappointed with the novels as stories. They’re brilliant examples of methodical mythological remixing. Yet in adjusting the tone of the books to aim them to her younger audience, Cooper also seems to feel it’s necessary to remove a great deal of the complexity a...more
The Grey King is possibly my favourite book of this sequence -- and I swear that's not only because it's set in my home country. It's a lovely, lovely book. This is the most layered of the books, I think -- by which I mean this is the book that has the most to offer for people of all ages. There are the more open and obvious emotions of Bran -- grief, pride, arrogance -- and the more complex grief and guilt of Owen Davies, which I'm not sure a younger reader would be able to fully understand.

The really upsetting one. I'd been calling it that in my head all along, but I didn't realize I didn't actually remember why. It turns out this upset me so much as a child that I literally blanked out the relevant details; I remembered about two pages before it happened, in the same horrible swooping lurch that Will experiences as he realizes something bad is about to happen. Animal harm, man, that shit fucks you up. /profound.

Anyway. I found this intensely interesting. It follows on very well f...more
The Grey King is possibly my favourite book of the sequence, and definitely one of my favourite books of all time. The things I noticed in this read through -- my full review, more of an overview of all the times I've read it, is here -- were mostly about the Welshness of it, and about the complexities of Will's relationship with the Light and humanity, and how exactly Bran is related to the Light.

John Rowlands' little speech about the coldness at the heart of the Light always strikes me -- it's...more
Jul 23, 2013 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Old Ones, raven boys, Welsh sheepdogs
July 2013 reread

This fourth book is where the Dark is Rising sequence begins to pick up its pace and become more epic, weaving the final battle of the Dark vs. the Light into a retold Arthurian mythos. Rereading it as an adult, I began to feel again a little bit of the magic that so entranced me as a child when this was my favorite series ever.

In The Grey King, Will Stanton, last of the Old Ones, has been sent to stay with an uncle in Wales to recover from an illness, thus continuing to contrast...more
LH Johnson
It is interesting to me that the first book to halt me in my headlong and gleeful devouring of the series was this book set in Wales, the fourth book in the series, set in the thin grey rain of Snowdonia. It is not the Wales-ness of this book that stopped me (though partially, yes, it is, the dense nature of those mythological references that when they meant nothing to me, they very much meant nothing), but rather the way that this book did not seem to mean anything to me until those last few pa...more
This was my favourite of The Dark is Rising series as a child and some of the images and characters within the book have stayed with me over the years. Re-visiting this book as an adult I can see why. Cooper's prose is beautifully crafted, the Welsh countryside is a place of latent magic where everyday things - a pebble, a sheepdog, an overgrown pathway - are transformed into powerful symbols, weapons in the fight between the Light and the Dark.

And in the centre of it all the character of Bran;...more
"The Grey King" is the fourth volume in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising Sequence, and in the opinion of many, the best of that series. (The fact that it won the Newbery Medal doesn't hurt the claim.)

In this book, Will Stanton is on his own, recovering from a severe illness that has suppressed the knowledge of his powers and duties as an Old One. Sent to a relative's farm in Wales to recuperate, it is not long, however, before he is set upon the path of another quest - and meets a strange, whit...more
Maria M. Elmvang
A 3.5 star review.

I was glad to see that I finally warmed to Will in this one, and I really liked Bran. His heritage was perhaps slightly contrived, but I thought it worked well enough. I'm not really sure I get what the Grey King was trying to do though... perhaps just work chaos, because he also knew who Bram was?

I'm still not blown away by this series, but it is turning out to be better than I'd originally thought, and now it would just be silly not to finish it ;-)
I know it's not a commonly held opinion among fans of The Dark is Rising sequence, but I actually have preferred the books with the Drews, rather than just Will Stanton, but this was still a great read. I'm grateful for the little Welsh pronunciation lesson Bran gave Will, otherwise I would have been way off the mark with the names. My only complaint is not enough Merriman, but overall it was really exciting and I'm anxious to start the final volume of the series.
I am really not a fan of this series thus far and Cooper will have to have done a lot to get me to even like it. In this fourth installment of The Dark is Rising series, Will Stanton heads to Wales after surviving a life-threatening illness so he can recover his strength. Of course, a quest is built in, and with the help of a mysterious young boy, Will works to awaken the Sleepers as the ultimate battle with the Dark draws near.

I think one of the biggest things that drives me crazy about this se...more
Just posted this review on my blog - check out this and many more young adult book reviews and recommendations there.


Rating : 4.2 out of 5 stars

Age Recommended : 10 and up

I think that The Grey King was an action - packed book, but it also had the sorrows of life.

The Grey King so far, was the most suspenseful book in the series, and it was all revolving around one mysterious being. That being could have made the difference between Will's life and death.

In this book...more
Charles McGonigal
OK now the game has been stepped up. Really dug into this one - a more mature story and quotable lines everywhere. Brought Churchill to mind in terms of defining both the conflict and those who have to lead the fight against it. I hope the sequence finishes this strongly.
May 18, 2014 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who would feel a bit silly stopping 3/5ths of the way through
Shelves: literature
Once again, Cooper sets the mood admirably. I get the feeling of Wales here. At least, I think I do, I've never actually been there. Anyway, the light is still good. The dark is still bad. I'm never actually surprised by outcomes but, despite the fact that half the words she uses have been banished from the SATs, this is a kid's book. I feel like the books of yesteryear were a bit more straightforward.

Side story...I once was backpacking in Glacier National Park when rain started rolling in over...more
Will Stanton, the youngest of the Old Ones has been very ill. In order for him to recuperate fully his parents send him to the Welsh countryside to stay with friends. Once there Will becomes friends with Bran, a boy about his age who is an albino. The two of them must then battle the Grey King and win. The Grey King, however, is the strongest entity of the Dark. He knows what Will and Bran are trying to do and manipulates the world around them to keep them at bay.

For whatever reason, I have like...more
Dec 30, 2013 Debbie added it
36 1976: The Grey King by Susan Cooper (McElderry/Atheneum)

5/29/13 (208 pages) -

This is the fourth of five books in The Dark is Rising series. It read OK by itself, but one wonders what was in the other four books and why the Newbery people would choose the fourth of a five-book-series.

The Grey King is a fantasy. Will, a young boy, is sent to stay with an aunt and uncle because he has been ill. However, we soon discover that he is not just a boy. Instead, it is an Old One - a keeper of the Light...more
This might be more accurately a ***1/2 star book, like Greenwitch, but I could not give it the benefit of the doubt this time as I did that book. There was much I enjoyed, especially the Welsh language philology and myth, and the hints of Camelot (even though she mistakenly applied the Arthurian legend aspect to an area that has none).

The build-up to the great showdown to between Will and The Grey King resulted in little more than a cop out on the part of the latter. It may have been unsatisfyi...more
Inspired Kathy
Book 4 in the Dark is Rising Series is probably my favorite of the series so far.
Nathan Marchand
The last of 'the old ones' must find a mystical harp in the welsh country side and defeat the dark side which is corrupting men.
Despite being centered around my least favourite protagonist I didn't mind this story. Simple, short and if you have a loved pet you might find some emotions. Quite a few coincidences and stuff we take for granted without explanation, like the boy's illness at the start.
If your interested in Welsh history and culture there a lot of it here. I'm not so I can't say if it...more
The book that made me fall in love with Wales.
Anne Hamilton
This is the fourth book in The Dark is Rising series. The preceding volumes are Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising and Greenwitch. It is largely independent of Over Sea, Under Stone and Greenwitch but relies to some degree on the events and more particularly the character of Will Stanton from The Dark is Rising and Greenwitch.

Will has a prophecy he must remember. A prolonged bout of illness and a struggle with hepatitis leaves his memory in tatters. He is a small boy but also the last-bor...more
Meme Au Andromedus
I remember the first time I read The Grey King, all I could think of was how lovely the scenery was and how otherworldly the Welsh language is. I really appreciated Bran's little tutorial about Welsh pronunciation. Years later, I didn't expect that I'd be using some of the things I got from this book in dealing with my some of my former company's Welsh clients.

But I digress.

The fourth book in the sequence not only showcases the beauty of the Welsh countryside, it also introduces the readers to B...more
I recently finished reading "The Dark is Rising" series by Susan Cooper. While I admit that I have read the first two books, "Over Sea, Under Stone" and "The Dark is Rising" many times, I can't say that I remember reading the rest of the series. So here are my thoughts:

Over Sea, Under Stone (OS): Wonderful beginning to the series. Very believable character and an interesting plot line. The book never seems to drag and before you know it, you are finished. Characters are very good and you really...more
I am impressed with this series because of how the characters and plot line matures with each volume. I love "children's" series that do that, like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials or J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. After reading the first volume of each, I was enchanted but also left feeling like parts the story lacked depth. As I continued to read the rest of the books, however, the events of the first volume that had seemed shallow were suddenly revealed to be very deliberate and meanin...more
Will Stanton has been sent to Wales to recover from an illness. He’s forgotten almost everything about being an Old One and about his quest. Being in Wales, however, revives Will, and reminds him that he’s there for a purpose. He must find the harp, wake the sleepers, and defeat the Grey King. As he talks to his relatives and their neighbors, Will slowly discovers where he must go and what he must do. He and his new friend, Bran – a singularly strange young man whose nature and powers even Will...more
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Susan Cooper's latest book is the YA novel "Ghost Hawk" (2013)

Susan Cooper was born in 1935, and grew up in England's Buckinghamshire, an area that was green countryside then but has since become part of Greater London. As a child, she loved to read, as did her younger brother, who also became a writer. After attending Oxford, where she became the first woman to ever edit that university's newspap...more
More about Susan Cooper...
The Dark is Rising (The Dark is Rising, #2) Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising, #1) Silver on the Tree (The Dark is Rising, #5) Greenwitch (The Dark is Rising, #3) The Dark is Rising Sequence (The Dark is Rising, #1-5)

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“He leaned forward suddenly, so that for an instant the strong, bearded face was clear; the voice softened, and there was an aching sadness in it. "Only the creatures of the earth take from one another, boy. All creatures, but men more than any. Life they take, and liberty and all that another man may have - sometimes through greed, sometimes through stupidity, but never by any volition but their own. Beware your own race, Bran Davies - they are the only ones who will ever harm you, in the end.” 5 likes
“Go away," he said. "Go away. I wish you had never come here. I wish I had never heard of the Light and the Dark, and your damned old Merriman and his rhymes. If I had your golden harp now I would throw it in the sea. I am not a part of your stupid quest anymore, I don't care what happens to it. And Cafall was never a part of it either, or a part of your pretty pattern. He was my dog, and I loved him more than anything in the world, and now he is dead. Go away.” 5 likes
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