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Silver on the tree by Susan Cooper
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Silver on the tree (original 1977; edition 2007)

by Susan Cooper, Alex Jennings

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3,192None1,742 (4.07)96
callmecayce's review
I absolutely love this series. I love the world Cooper's created, along with the characters. I love the fuzziness of good versus evil, along with the idea that some things are black and white (aka the light is good and the dark is bad) but not everything is (hence the fuzziness. I love Bran and Will, I love the Drews and I love Merry. I enjoy all the side characters who flit in and out of the books. In this final book, Cooper manages to write her characters as older and more mature (including the Drews). The ending, of course, broke my heart a little and it makes my heart ache to think about Will as the only one who remembers after everyone else has forgotten or is gone. I'm also very glad that I listened to these books, they were just as good as when I read them, but the experience was actually better on audio. I'm not sure if it was the reader(s) or what, but they were a pleasure to listen to. ( )
  callmecayce | Apr 28, 2012 |
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My biggest memory from the first time I read this was of really hating Bran and being angry that Merriman sailed away on Pridwen while Bran got to keep on living. This time, however, I liked Bran much more. The ending of the book is quite sad--I mean, I don't really care about the Drew children, but it's very hard that Bran doesn't even get to remember what's happened, considering what an integral part of it he was. This does not strike me as appropriately respectful (which is not something you often hear me say with regard to children). And poor Will is all alone with his experience...not to mention that the most significant part of his life is over before puberty.

I was really touched by the relationship between Gwion and Gwyddno. I hope they are having an awesome, happy afterlife with each other beneath the stars, among the apple orchards! ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
The book that ruined the series. Since everyone who might have learned something is forced to forget everything they've learned and done, the whole book (and the previous ones) become pointless. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Feb 4, 2014 |
Well it all comes full circle here. The last book in the Dark is Rising series is done. Yet, why do I feel so empty? I thought at first perhaps that this was part of the cost of re-reading a book or series again, that you had read the first time when you were much younger. But no, because thinking back now--this must have been what the longing I felt was all about. Things finally draw to a conclusion at the end of this book, and life moves on, but there's still that lingering "But..." that I just want to end all my sentences with. This was supposed to be the last great adventure, and there are parts that I like and love, but there are too many other things in hindsight that weighed down those feelings and just left me feeling... underwhelmed.

I feel like magic in this series is a heavy burden. It doesn't come easily, and it doesn't even feel natural. It's a strain on everyone that uses it, and whenever it inevitably interferes with the normal world and people's lives, the solution is always wiping their memories. I don't know about you, but when I've fought that hard, struggled for so long, for a cause... I don't want my memories of what I fought for to be lost! And in a way, whenever they did that in previous books to other characters that started getting a hint of what was going on, I balked at it! I cringed and grit my teeth. How do you just do that?! Wipe my mind and pretend like it didn't happen! Like you're all too powerful for me to be of any use if I knew! I get it, the Light in this series is trying to protect humanity. But know what? We can fight for ourselves too! Otherwise you wouldn't have used Barney and Jane and Simon! It all started with them! And then we get everyone else just... treating them like they can't do anything in the long run. Worse, like they don't deserve the respect of remembering.

...you just don't do that. Messing with people's heads is one thing, but stealing their memories from them is taking away a part of who they are. Unless they willingly sought it, which I wouldn't praise or be happy about anyway, that's... not something you do.

But going back to this book in particular, things are as they've been in the last few books. We get the entire battle of Light and Dark fought and ended. And it's an obvious ending. One would think it would be. It's again filled with so much going on that you're basically being dragged along for the ride without even getting a chance to experience what's happening. The empathy whenever it comes to these magical things... just isn't there. Whenever we focus on Will or the Light's dealings, even the Dark's dealings, it's cold. Distant. Unfeeling. You can't find anything to cling to that'll give you any feelings at all. Just like Jane, Barney, and Simon throughout many parts of this book: You're just standing there, quietly, watching all the important people talk and completely ignore you. And that's what a lot of this series is when it's all summarized. That is why it gets Two Stars from me. Is it alright? Yeah. It is. But the only good parts, and I mean, the really, actually enjoyable parts, are with the Drew kids. Will, the Light, the Dark, and what have you... they just... make you feel bland.

I think if this story was written more from the Drew's adventures, it would have been far more pleasant and fun. But it just comes off as hard to connect to, full of fancy show and flashy stuff, but there's nothing really concrete or logical in the procession of anything. Things just HAPPEN because they DO and they come whenever they want. You're being dragged behind a speeding car, but you have no idea where you're going. They stop to ask your opinion every once in a blue moon, or during a pit stop, but then you're back in the trunk or something, stashed away until you're needed.

Eh. It's a shame. Because there's a lot of stuff here that is lovely, but it's got no substance. It's just there, and you don't feel anything for it.

So that's the conclusion for this series. It was fine. It was okay. But I wish you got a chance to actually feel like you experienced something worthwhile. Because you're hoping for it throughout the entire series and then... you just get... nothing really. Everything goes back to how it was before you ever started the series. As far as you're concerned, nothing's changed--because nothing feels like it changed.

Give these books a shot if you want. But they're not the best. Definitely not as magical as I once thought they were. Funny that, all my memories from when I was a kid were of the parts where the Drew's or Bran was involved. Huh. Guess it goes to show you what really matters~ And in this case, it's worth it only for them, but even then, just barely. Take it out of a library, but don't buy this at first go. It's not really worth your money, I'm sorry to say. ( )
  N.T.Embe | Dec 31, 2013 |
Silver on the Tree combines all the best of the other books of the sequence: the magic, the genuine moments of terror and alarm, the weaving of legends and the everyday, the mysteries that leave you to wonder, the sense of place... And more than any of the others it combines both sadness and joy; in that, it's the most adult of the sequence.

I especially enjoy little touches like Bran getting to meet Owain Glyndŵr; one thing I did miss was Barney not having more of a reaction to actually meeting King Arthur who he's idolised since before the first page of the first book. I can't remember having noticed it before, but that jarred me, this time. Also, I remember someone mentioning to me how much it bothered them that this book plays into the betrayal of a woman theme (as does The Dark is Rising, in the form of Maggie Barnes, "a sweet face" to lure people into the Dark). Thinking about it this time, I see their point, even though the White Rider is otherwise ambiguously gendered. It's as if women can somehow hide their allegiance to the Dark behind womanly charms, where the men are immediately picked out (Mr Mitothin doesn't fool Will for a moment; Maggie Barnes, however, has to act wickedly to get him to realise, and "Blodwen Rowlands" fools John entirely until the very end).

We do have some great female characters in these books -- the Lady and Jane, mainly, with Will's sisters, mother and aunt and other such minor characters -- but it's a bit nasty that the alluring side of the Dark is pretty unambiguously female.

Still, that's not enough to ruin the books, and nor is it suggested as something all women could/would do. It's just something that may bother you, particularly if you forget how old these books are.

I think I've ended my reviews of this book with this quotation before, but it's still true. The book ends with a call to arms to all of us, to stop relying on anyone else to change the world and know that we are, alone, responsible for our own choices.

"For Drake is no longer in his hammock, children, nor is Arthur somewhere sleeping, and you may not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now, because the world is yours and it is up to you." ( )
  shanaqui | Dec 26, 2013 |
The Dark is Rising series concludes. I enjoyed it as a whole, but while it was written mainly for children, I would be very hesitant to read it to younger kids because of the extreme Dualistic worldview. The Dark’s whole purpose is to terrorize and subjugate mankind, while the Light, supposedly it’s complete opposite, seems only to exist to oppose it; not to bring peace and happiness to all. A good read, but wouldn’t let preteens or early teens read it without some serious discussion about it all. ( )
  Bookstooge | Sep 26, 2013 |
3-1/2 stars, or somewhere between 3-1/2 and 4. There were places where this dragged a bit. It was perhaps a little longer than it needed to be. That's not an easy thing to decide with any conviction though as the mythical nature of the story and style of the writing begged for some drawn out vague (vague isn't the right word, maybe mystical) descriptions. Overall this series was an easy four stars. The Newbery winner, the fourth book, was definitely the best and the second book, the Newbery honor book, was a close second. And I really do believe that I agreed with those honors rather than being lead by them to fulfill the expectation. :) ( )
  Yona | May 2, 2013 |
In this last book, everything comes together. All the characters, all the plots and threads, all the separate pieces of mythology. Again, it's a beautiful book, and again, as always, there is some amazing characterisation. The things that catch my eye especially in this book are the initial awe/resentment of Bran from the Drews, Gwion's loyalty to and grief for Gwddyno, and John's grief when Blodwen betrays him. There's a lot of complex emotion going on here beneath the actual plot, and parts of it really, really hurt. There are also some parts that never fail to make me smile, like Barney's enthusiasm, and Bran and Will's Arthur/Merlin dynamic.

The actual end of the book and sequence both is at once exhilarating and hurtful. "Five shall return, and one go alone", says the prophecy, but I can't help but think that is ambiguous. Is it that Will, Jane, Simon, Barney and Bran return to our world, and Merriman goes alone? Or is it that Jane, Simon, Barney, Bran and Merriman return to where they belong, while Will is left alone? I suspect it's the former, but there's truth in the latter too: when you imagine how abandoned Will is.

I do love Bran's choice, despite what it leads to, because that's realistic. An adopted child doesn't lose their feelings for their adoptive parent just because they meet their biological parent. Bran still loves Owen (and, arguably another father-figure, John).

Merriman's last few speeches are amazing, but particularly this, and this is how I'll end my reviews. It's a very appropriate thing to be saying to a child, I think, after a book in which two moral opposites clash over and over. It leaves you to think.

"For Drake is no longer in his hammock, children, nor is Arthur somewhere sleeping, and you may not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now, because the world is yours and it is up to you."

Reread again in December 2009. I can't think of any better end to this review. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
My full, more overview-like review of this book is here -- this review is just about my most recent reading. It was unfortunately swift, really, since my poor girlfriend needs to sleep and I was only halfway through by sometime past midnight. So I hurried up, and didn't have as much time as I'd like to savour the images and the taste of the words... Not that it isn't, in a way, appropriate to read it as a race against time, since that's what this book is. From the sleepiness, the slow start of Over Sea Under Stone, and Will's slower awakening in the second book, the urgency is desperate now, and all the characters have their quests.

John Rowlands is the figure that struck me most, this time. He is such a good, good man -- better than those of the Light -- and used by both Dark and Light, and yet somehow he is not bitter, not so bitter that he doesn't wish them both ill and withdraw. He still has a responsibility to the world, to humanity, and he recognises that and discharges his duty admirably.

It's hard not to feel that the ending is a cop-out. Why can't Bran remember? Why can't he have the memory of his real father to strengthen him? Why does Will have to be left so totally alone, the only one who remembers? Jane, Simon, Barney and Bran, and perhaps John Rowlands, are the only ones who could possibly begin to understand what Will is and what he must do, and yet the Light shut off all hope of that... The cold hard justice at the heart of the Light, I suppose. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
This book brings together the rest of the sequence, and brings the struggle of the Light and the Dark to its conclusion. It's mostly set in Wales, with all the characters reuniting there. It has a lot of the stunning passages of prose that I've praised before, and as with The Grey King, it's a bit more subtle in terms of the Light/Dark divide. Not quite as much as I'd really like to see, I think: the White Rider is a pretty troubling figure. I'd want more ambiguity there, more of a hint that she had feelings as those of the Light do.

Still, I love this book so much. I love the characters, the weaving in of mythology, the Welshness... And I have no doubt that I'll be reading it again, sometime soon. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Squeaked this in just before 2013 began. There's little more I can say about this book: I don't understand people who don't like it, who can't see the layers of ambiguity in it, the way there's always more to discover. Mind you, I'm sure it's partly me that brings that to this most loved story.

I love that Susan Cooper's people are people, most of them neither Dark nor Light but people, trying to live. I've needed a Stephen Stanton in the past, and Susan Cooper reminds me -- as Will is reminded by his family -- that people like him do exist. There's nothing impossible about the human characters of her books.

I just have a moment of regret right now that we don't see Owen Davies in this book. I mean, with the ending of The Grey King, and what he knows about his son... How would he react to what happens in this book? What does he hope, or fear? Does he know that Bran will meet his real father in the course of all this, and does he wonder if Bran will ever come home? That would've been interesting to see.

At this point, I've built so many what-ifs and could-have-beens out of this book that I could probably write a book on them myself... ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
It's a pity that this last book is relatively weak. Jane, Simon, Barney and Merriman have come all the way to Wales for climax of the series and, instead of some adventures with them, we get pages and pages and pages of Cooper's imaginative lost land. Yes, it's lovely. Yes, it would be great in the graphic novel. Cooper, who is so good at keeping action happening seems to drop the ball here. ( )
  veracite | Apr 7, 2013 |
It's a pity that this last book is relatively weak. Jane, Simon, Barney and Merriman have come all the way to Wales for climax of the series and, instead of some adventures with them, we get pages and pages and pages of Cooper's imaginative lost land. Yes, it's lovely. Yes, it would be great in the graphic novel. Cooper, who is so good at keeping action happening seems to drop the ball here. ( )
  veracite | Apr 6, 2013 |
It's a pity that this last book is relatively weak. Jane, Simon, Barney and Merriman have come all the way to Wales for climax of the series and, instead of some adventures with them, we get pages and pages and pages of Cooper's imaginative lost land. Yes, it's lovely. Yes, it would be great in the graphic novel. Cooper, who is so good at keeping action happening seems to drop the ball here. ( )
  veracite | Apr 5, 2013 |
The end of the series, but not the pinnacle.
After re-reading the entire series, I understand why I don't re-read it regularly. It's too uneven, though 2 of the 5 books are brilliant. This volume flounders under the weight of both what comes before in Cooper's world and the canon of Arthurian Legend. At the end I find it well-done but somehow lacking. I don't know that I can be more precise, other than to say read this, and read The Mists of Avalon, and read Le Morte d'Arthur and read White's books, and read Mary Stewart. Read it all. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
The 5th of an amazing children's series I'd read so many times over that the spine creases combined into one, big, obscuring curl. I'm saddened by the previews of the upcoming movie where it appears the lilting beauty of Cooper's story has been fed steroids and 'enhanced' with explosions. What's this about an American protagonist rather than English, and no mention of the Arthurian connection? The horrors! ( )
  EhEh | Apr 3, 2013 |
The last of the quintology, and the most eventful, and surprising, with an enemy lurking in the most unexpected character. I liked the way Cooper made me think about the meaning of words, and her interpretation of the nightmare, even if etymologically she is wrong. I slowed down my reading speed towards the end, not wanting it to come, and now it is there, and all is right with the world, I am feeling bereft. But it seems strange to think how much the real world has changed, since this was written, for today's children. ( )
  overthemoon | Dec 6, 2012 |
I absolutely love this series. I love the world Cooper's created, along with the characters. I love the fuzziness of good versus evil, along with the idea that some things are black and white (aka the light is good and the dark is bad) but not everything is (hence the fuzziness. I love Bran and Will, I love the Drews and I love Merry. I enjoy all the side characters who flit in and out of the books. In this final book, Cooper manages to write her characters as older and more mature (including the Drews). The ending, of course, broke my heart a little and it makes my heart ache to think about Will as the only one who remembers after everyone else has forgotten or is gone. I'm also very glad that I listened to these books, they were just as good as when I read them, but the experience was actually better on audio. I'm not sure if it was the reader(s) or what, but they were a pleasure to listen to. ( )
  callmecayce | Apr 28, 2012 |
**This review won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the rest of the series**

This is the final book in The Dark is Rising series and I’ll admit, it was sad to say goodbye. Everything has been building to the final battle between the dark and the light and this book provided a satisfying conclusion. For me, the action sequences have never been the draw. It’s the relationships that make the series a success and in this book, all the characters are together for the first time. Of course, when everyone is finally together there’s a bit of rivalry, but that would happen with any group.

Will has really grown as a character, balancing his life as a young man and as an Old One can’t be easy, but it seems like he has matured. His role in the series is actually pretty tragic. It broke my heart when Will tells his brother who he really is and his brother doesn’t believe him. He then has to make him forget what he said. It seems like the people who fight for what’s right often lead such lonely lives.

This book features some wonderful new characters, like Gwion, and some intense scenes, like Will and Bran being chased by the skeletal horse. There’s also a great scene where Will and Merriman travel back in time to when the Romans were in Britain. Also, Jane’s role becomes vital in this book, because she and the Grey Lady are both females, so they have a special connection.

One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed the most from this series is the way the “Dark” attacks people. It’s not about violent attacks or brute force; instead they plant seeds of doubt and prey on people’s fears. They manipulate and tempt and those are much more effective ways of getting what you want. It’s much easier to stand strong against a physical attack than it is to resist the idea that you aren’t good enough or that someone has betrayed you.

One thing I wished I’d known about the series before I began it is that there is a central cast of characters, but they aren’t in every book. The main characters include Simon, Jane and Barney Drew, Merriman Lyon, Will Stanton, Bran and a few others. The first book features the Drew sibling, we don’t meet Will until the second book and the Drew siblings aren’t even in that one. Bran doesn’t show up until the fourth book, etc. It all comes together in the final book, but I think I would have enjoyed the second book much more if I had stopped waiting for the Drew siblings to appear.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed the whole series, especially the references to the Arthur/Merlin legend. I wish I’d read them when I was young, but I’m glad to discover them now.

“‘Why should some of the Riders of the Dark be dressed all in white and the rest all in black?’
Will said reflectively, ‘I don’t know. Maybe because the dark can only reach people at extremes, blinded by their own shining ideas or locked up in the darkness of their own heads.’” ( )
  bookworm12 | Feb 7, 2012 |
Love - or the ability to forge relationships that create loyalty and sacrfice - this is the deciding factor between light and dark. It's not an uncommon theme in fantastical novels. In the end, what saves the light are those bonds forged as people loved. I liked two parts in particular - when John rejects his "wife's" claim of possession declaring that people are free to choose. And again in the end when Merriman tells the children that the earth is left to men, who must choose against their own worst selves in order to keep themselves in the light. ( )
1 vote tjsjohanna | Dec 2, 2011 |
The Silver On The Tree is the conclusion of the Dark Is Rising sequence. It wraps up all of the lose ends of the story so eloquently. The Drew children, Will Stanton, and Bran Davies all come together to turn back the rising of the dark. It was a great end to an epic journey, and last few pages are so well written I will definately pick this book up again just to re-read the resolution. ( )
  booksandwine | Oct 7, 2010 |
When I last read the dark is rising sequence as a child, the silver on the tree was my least favourite of the books. Rereading this now, I think it may actually be my favourite. Many of the scene and settings are incredibly vividly realised, and the tension in the book builds with ever increasing speed and intensity as the story progressed. Wonderful ( )
  Steph78 | Mar 16, 2010 |
Finally, I finished the Dark is Rising series! I thought the ending was alright, but once again, I’ll admit that Cooper’s non-direct style of writing sometimes bothers me. I like being told what’s going on in clear language, so there were places in this book that just annoyed me…but ultimately, I applaud her consistency throughout the series, and found the ending sad but necessary.

It wasn’t my favorite of the series – I think that one goes to The Grey King – but on the whole, I’m glad I took the time to read the books and recommend them to enthusiasts of classic children’s literature or fantasy. Time well spent. ( )
  dk_phoenix | Dec 31, 2009 |
All the cliches of regular British children's series, as well as of arthurian fantasy. All of their weaknesses as well. Sorry, I didn't see anything that raised this series above the level of cliche. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Dec 17, 2009 |
Spoilers ahead:

I found this be a mostly satisfying conclusion to this series, even if it was a bit sad. The action was exciting the whole tone of the bookw as much darker than previous ones (with possibly the exception of the fourth book - The Grey King). Some parts of the book I found almost theatrical in nature. The scene where Will and Bran are in the maze of mirrors and all the glass shatters musically left me breathless.

I do the ending was just a little disappointing, and perhaps this is because I'm not very familiar with Welsh mythology, but I didn't understand how the winner in the battle between the Light and the Dark could be decided by who slices through a bush of mistletoe on one special tree. It seemed a little...anticlimatic.

The very end was also just a little bit sad. I mourned for Will because neither Bran nor the Drew children would remember any of their adventures or how much they helped the Light. I think the ending was supposed to be happy, but that's not how I saw it. Still, it was a very good book and I greatly enjoyed the series as a whole. It's a keeper and one that, at some point in the future, I hope to reread. ( )
1 vote RebeccaAnn | Dec 7, 2009 |
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