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The Grey King (1975)

by Susan Cooper

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Dark is Rising Sequence (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,441811,644 (4.13)202
A strange boy and dog remind Will Stanton that he is an immortal, whose quest is to find the golden harp which will rouse others from a long slumber in the Welsh hills so they may prepare for the ultimate battle of Light versus Dark.
  1. 41
    The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: The Grey King is technically Book 4 of a series, but it could be read alone. Silver on the Tree also has Welsh mythology.
  2. 00
    The Eye of the Storm by Nicholas Wilde (bookel)

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» See also 202 mentions

English (80)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (82)
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
My review of classic fantasy novel Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake is up on the John C Adams Reviews blog now. Read it here.


#JohnCAdamsReviews #JohnCAdams #mervynpeake #titusgroan #gormenghast #fantasy #comedy #book #books #bookreviews #bookreview #waybackwhensday #fiction #novel #review #reviews ( )
  johncadamssf | Sep 28, 2022 |
For me, each book in the series isn’t as good as the previous one. “The Grey King” has its good moments, but in general I found it a bit slow. At one point, the narrative is put on hold for a Welsh language lesson, where the main character learns how to improve his pronunciation.

Although I like Will Stanton, he isn’t as endearing as the three Drew siblings from Books 1 and 3. If they’d been part of the story, it would’ve added some brightness and variety.

The author’s good at bringing the landscape to life but is too fond of adverbs. Adverbs ‘tell’, not ‘show’.

So, worth a read, but it’s not something I’d return to for a second time. ( )
  PhilSyphe | Nov 5, 2021 |
Susan Cooper writes a wonderful story and The Dark is Rising series is among her best work. I find the characters relatable and engaging but she truly shines in her storytelling which draws you into both the current story and all the back story too. ( )
  KateKat11 | Sep 24, 2021 |
The forth of the Dark is Rising books takes us to Wales, where Will meets Bran.

(Main review on Silver in the Tree) ( )
  atreic | Jul 28, 2021 |
Fire on the mountain top shall find the harp of gold/Played to wake the Sleepers, the oldest of the old

So speaks the prophecy of the Old Ones.

Will Stanton, youngest of the immortal Old Ones, is deathly ill- something that should be impossible for an Old One. To regain his strength, his family sends him to the Welsh mountains to recover, and there he meets a boy of his own age- albino, strange- almost fey- whom he befriends. Will is struggling to regain his memories as an Old One, while his friend Bran and Bran's dog, Cadfael- named for King Arthur's dog- have unpleasant encounters on the mountain ruled by the eponymous Grey King- one of the greatest Lords of the Dark, who for unknown reasons restricted his demesne to a single Welsh mountain and surrounding valleys in ancient days.

For the Grey King stands sentinel over the Sleepers and the Harp of Gold- and only the rightful lord of Britain has command in the face of his power. Bran's secret is unknown to himself, when his mother was taken elsewhere by Merriman to have and leave her baby, for she had once been unfaithful to her husband- and the Pendragon was needed by the Old Ones in a time not originally his own.

The best-written entry in the series, this one is highly enjoyable- although it loses quite a bit without having read at least The Dark is Rising first. Highly recommended. ( )
  BrainFireBob | Jul 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susan Cooperprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, JulieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heslop, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mitchley, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pekkanen, PanuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westrup, Jadwiga P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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On the day of the dead, when the year too dies,
Must the youngest open the oldest hills
Through the door of the birds, where the breeze breaks.
There fire shall fly from the raven boy,
And the silver eyes that see the wind,
And the light shall have the harp of gold.

By the pleasant lake the Sleepers lie,
On Cadfan’s Way where the kestrels call;
Though grim from the Grey King shadows fall,
Yet singing the golden harp shall guide
To break their sleep and bid them ride.

When light from the lost land shall return,
Six Sleepers shall ride, six Signs shall burn,
And where the midsummer tree grows tall
By Pendragon’s sword the Dark shall fall.

Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu,
ac y mae’r arglwyddes yn dod.
Although all the characters in this book are fictitious, the places are real. I have however taken certain liberties with the geography of the Dysynni Vallen and Tal y Llyn, and there are no real farms where I have made Clwd, Prichard's and Ty-Bont stand.

The Brenin Llwyd I did not invent.

I am grateful to the Rev. Kenneth Francis, Mr J.L. Jones and Mrs. Eira Crook for kindly checking my Welsh.
First words
"Are you awake, Will?"
When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song;
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw;
Six Signs the circle, and the grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This LT work, The Grey King, is Book 4 (of 5 Books) in Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising Sequence. Please distinguish it from other single titles in the series, and from any combination(s) of part or all of the series. Thank you.
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A strange boy and dog remind Will Stanton that he is an immortal, whose quest is to find the golden harp which will rouse others from a long slumber in the Welsh hills so they may prepare for the ultimate battle of Light versus Dark.

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Average: (4.13)
0.5 1
1 12
1.5 1
2 13
2.5 11
3 150
3.5 62
4 393
4.5 65
5 377

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