Nikki 's Reviews > The Grey King

The Grey King by Susan Cooper
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Mar 09, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: fantasy, children-s-and-ya
Read 6 times. Last read March 9, 2011.

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 a moral ambiguity that isn't always present (e.g. in Harry Potter). Several times we see that Will isn't really human, and we have to question how justified his goals are. Is the Light any better placed to dictate what humanity will do than the Dark? Although, thinking about it, what the Dark will do to humanity is rarely really articulated: it remains a formless fear, and the more potent for that, I think, as the reader brings their own understanding to that.

Once you've read the whole sequence, you do know that the Light is right, I think, because of how they handle their victory -- though at the same time, that coldness at the heart never goes away -- but you never see anything from the point of view of the Dark... I've read rewrites of The Lord of the Rings where Sauron was not evil. It'd be interesting to read a rewrite of The Dark is Rising, in that sense! How could one talk up the Dark and make it sound like the better choice... Clearly some people choose to be of the Dark: Merriman tells Will that the Lords of the Dark choose it, they aren't born into it as those of the Light are. That would be very interesting to know: what makes people choose to become Lords of the Dark? There is the painter, in Greenwitch, who is very lonely, very unhappy, an outcast... I think perhaps he's the clearest elaboration on this, though there is something about it in Silver on the Tree, too -- people so blinded by ideas that they lose all sense of right and wrong.

In any case, the other thing that really gets me about these books is they make my heart ache for Wales. Now I'm home in Wales, that's a slightly different experience, but I really don't know of any other book that invokes the feeling of Wales for me so strongly. Or I didn't, before, anyway: now I've read more Welsh writing, I'm starting to see that in other books. But The Dark is Rising is still the strongest.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Robert The Night Watch by Lukyanenko deals with the moral debate you discuss - is it's central theme, really, I think.


message 2: by Nikki (last edited Mar 09, 2011 09:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nikki I've read that, yes. I was thinking of that somewhat when I was writing this review -- the benefits of being on that side... But that whole series is much more balanced and two-sided.


Robert Do you know the region of Wales that this book is set in? It's remarkably recognisable, if you do. One can almost point to Rowland's farm on a map.


message 4: by Nikki (last edited Mar 09, 2011 10:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nikki I've never been there, but I do know that this is very clearly defined in terms of place (a feature common to a lot of Welsh writing!).


Robert It's well worth visiting - you can test the echo from the shore of Llyn y Gadair. I didn't try singing because my voice is terrible. (Trust me to break a positive Welsh stereotype!)


Nikki Haha, we thought I couldn't sing till I had a singing teacher, and then he worked wonders.


Nikki I think it was on the other review of it, yes! Or on my other review of Silver on the Tree... Oh dear, I do review these books so often. *laughs*


Gill Hiraeth...


Nikki Yes, indeed. Oddly enough, my parents and I feel it, and my younger sister doesn't...


message 10: by Gill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gill Mark and I felt it when we came to Wales on a preliminary visit in the early 1970s with the boys, and camped one night behind a pub about 10 miles from where we now live, and the men in the tiny bar raised the roof with their amazing singing in Welsh. We both felt we had 'come home' in a way we had never felt living in other places. Both the boys felt it too and we set out to move to Wales at that time. Now I have lived in Wales longer than I lived in England.


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