Monday, December 03, 2018

49. The Grey King by Susan Cooper

This is the fourth and penultimate book of The Dark Is Rising sequence and so far my favourite.  It still suffers from the arbitrary magic and vagueness of the Dark as antagonist.  However, the bulk of the story is anchored in the real and the setting, always a strong point in this series, is better integrated into the themes and plot points.  This time, Will is sent to his aunt's farm in Wales after a serious bout with hepatitis.  Though still an old one, the little boy that he is is physically quite weakened.  Of course, it also turns out that his aunt's farm is a valley in Wales that rests at the foot of the mountain of the Grey King, the site of the next step and confrontation in the quest to prevent the Dark from rising.

Will meets another lad his age, an albino whose aura he can't read.  The land is pleasant and the people rough-hewn but warm, except for asshole farmer neighbour Caradog Prichard, who has a hate-on for the other neighbours dogs, accusing them of killing his sheep.  As Will explores to fulfill his quest, a conflict with Caradog threatens, its tension mounting with the machinations of the Grey King.  I still don't get why Will spends most of the time being in a weak position, but then can cast quite powerful spells.  And I am never clear what the Dark actually is made up of.  Nevertheless, the story of the neighbour farmer was quite gripping and there are some great countryside wisdom and morals subtly portrayed here.  This was a good one and gives me some momentum for the home stretch of this series.

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