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The Grey King (The Dark Is Rising #4)

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  30,696 Ratings  ·  699 Reviews
There is a Welsh legend about a harp of gold, hidden within a certain hill, that will be found by a boy and a white dog with silver eyes -- a dog that can see the wind. Will Stanton knew nothing of this when he came to Wales to recover from a severe illness. But when he met Bran, the strange boy who owned a white dog, he began to remember. For Will is the last-born of the ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published 1986 by Macmillan (first published 1975)
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Heather It really does make more sense if you read the first three books - at least the previous two, since Vol2 introduces Will (who is a protagonist in this…moreIt really does make more sense if you read the first three books - at least the previous two, since Vol2 introduces Will (who is a protagonist in this book) and Vol3 leads into into this one (the thing Will "loses" at the beginning of this book is something that he learned in Vol3.(less)

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Nikki
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Maggie Stiefvater
Dec 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended
*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.
Nikki
I somewhat put off reviewing The Grey King after finishing reading it, because I’m not sure what there is to say about it anymore. I’ve rhapsodised about it at length: the use of mythology, the casual use of the Welsh language, the home-ness of the landscape and the people… The shades of grey and the adult touches when it comes to Owen Davies and John Rowlands, and Will Stanton’s interactions with them. There’s some beautiful passages, especially the section spent in Craig yr Aderyn, and some ge ...more
Nikki
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
Lexish
Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle school onwards
Shelves: newbery-medal
This is one of the most well-written young adult books I've ever read. They don't write 'em like this anymore! There's a reason Susan Cooper won the Newbery 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. Susan Coo ...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
Nikki
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
Lightreads
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
Nikki
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.

Th
...more
LPG
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay the series has turned enjoyable again!

It's funny, I think Cooper realised she'd made Will close to infallible in the previous book, so she's whacked him with a memory loss inducing illness at the start of this one. A bit ham handed but I'm just so thankful she realised the corner she'd written herself into!

The illness is also an excellent excuse to move the whole story to Wales (Cause dontcha know? When you're recovering from a life threatening fever, rainy Wales is the PERFECT place to do
...more
Ben De Bono
I'm beginning to think that this series would be better titled The Dark is Stumbling Around Awkwardly Without Ever Accomplishing Much. In this volume our heroes take on the Grey King, a villain who we're reminded every other paragraph is more powerful and evil than any other encountered so far.

Despite this impressive reputation, the most evil things he manages to accomplish are (a) killing a few sheep and (b) making one small patch of ground briefly change shape. He also seems to have it out for
...more
Tim
So, I've been reading Cooper's Dark is Rising series, which I somehow never got to as a kid despite hearing so much about it, and knowing it won a ton of awards. This one, for instance, won the Newbery, one of the biggest American awards for young adult fiction. And the overwhelming sense I've come away with so far is: why?

Don't get me wrong, there are moments of good description, and good story-telling. But it is hung on a framework that doesn't really work. Sure, in theory we have an epic batt
...more
David
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Nikki
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steven Bell
Dec 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't quite as good as "Greenwitch" but on the whole it was still a huge step up over "The Dark is Rising". For the first time Will actually feels a bit like a proper character. We get a sense that he actually has personal interests and we get to see him make actual choices that have consequences.

This also benefits from the decision to keep Merry/Merriman on the sidelines so that Will can't just be walked through everything. That was something that made "The Dark is Rising" eternally
...more
Stephen Polidore
So far my least favorite of the series, it did have a good ending though. It was able to tug more at my emotions but lacked a certain amount of structure which left it less satisfying. Hopefully the final book picks back up.
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I remember devouring this book when it first came out and loving it. It was my favourite of the series, partly because of the Welsh setting, partly because I was King Arthur-mad, and partly because, hey--I was fifteen or so. I've remembered it fondly all these years, and after the disappointment of Greenwitch, I told myself "Never mind, The Grey King is next, you love that one!"

Well, I did--forty years ago. Now, not so much. I can't condemn the book (much)--it's me that has changed; and when I s
...more
Sylvie
Mar 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. It gets 3 rather than 2 stars mostly because I finished it, and it wasn't a terrrible read.

Good parts: I liked the Welsh setting and the bits and pieces of Will being taught Welsh, or at least how not to totally mangle the pronunciation. I liked the sheepdogs. I liked that it's perfectly readable without having read the rest of the books in the series. I liked that it was an easy read - I got through it easily in a couple of hours. (Which makes sense since it's a kid's book.) I also mostly
...more
Marsha
In this installment of The Dark is Rising series, young Will is given his most formidable test yet. Bereft of the ever-present Merriman Lyon, he’s forced to battle an ancient, formless evil. There are no other Old Ones to help him, which emphasizes the peril he faces.

Will becomes less and less like a child or human being with every passing book. An unnatural maturity shines out of his eyes, so much so that other normal people are beginning to pick up on it. A certain coldness is growing in his n
...more
Chris
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cooper ditches her winning formula from Greenwitch, letting go of the three children from the first and third books of the series, and settling in with Will Stanton. Unfortunately this means we're back to the magical Will, the last of the Old Ones, essentially watching as various mystical events happen around him. He's a bit more active in this book than in The Dark Is Rising (the last book that focused solely on him), but the result is almost as boring. Again the colorful British mythology stan ...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
Lynn
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Neula
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy Wagner
A brief jewel of a book. Here Cooper blends Arthurian legend with rural adventure, using young Will Stanton as a voice for the high level fight between Good and Evil. In this book, Will gets a deeper sense of the value of his fight, but also begins to understand how the battle removes him from the human world, which he discovers is full of petty viciousness--and wonderful goodness, all of it outside the concerns of legend and lore. There is wisdom a-plenty in this book, and the last paragraph so ...more
Jessica
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readin2006
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.
Rachel Joy
This was really a 3.5 for me.

This is the continuing story of Will Stanton in his quests to acquire the Things of Power in order to defeat the Dark, and save the world.
It's well written but I found myself wishing that the lengthy descriptions of the scenery and the various magical happenings weren't quite so . . . well . . . long.
David
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Solid, probably my favourite in the series so far.
Kathy
Feb 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Book 4 in the Dark is Rising Series is probably my favorite of the series so far.
Maija
I liked the latter half a lot better than the first half! It actually gripped me.
Mathew
I think, probably, my favourite of the series so far. It isn't as good as The Owl Service but then it's trying to do something a little different. I thought Cooper did well to get around the problem of having a child character as central who isn't, in fact, a child. But is her depth of character (especially in Bran) and calling for painting landscape with her prose which makes it special. Again, I find myself drawn to the wild magics of her books and her own sense of indefinability that she rela ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: alternate cover, please! 2 19 Mar 12, 2016 12:02AM  
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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
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More about Susan Cooper...

Other Books in the Series

The Dark Is Rising (5 books)
  • Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark Is Rising, #1)
  • The Dark Is Rising (The Dark is Rising, #2)
  • Greenwitch (The Dark Is Rising, #3)
  • Silver on the Tree (The Dark is Rising, #5)
“Still in the black hemisphere the stars blazed and slowly wheeled; beneath them, Will felt so infinitesimally small that it seemed impossible he should even exist. Immensity pressed in on him, terrifying, threatening--and then, in a swift flash of movement like a dance, like the glint of a leaping fish, came a flick of brightness in the sky from a shooting star... He heard Bran give a small chirrup of delight, a spark struck from the same bright sudden joy that filled his own being.” 8 likes
“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.” 6 likes
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