Old School Wednesdays is a weekly Book Smugglers feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of 2012, when both Ana and Thea were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny (and often over-hyped) books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past?
Logo designed by the wonderful KMont
This week, Ana tackles the second book in The Dark is Rising Sequence.
Title: The Dark is Rising
Author: Susan Cooper
Genre: Children, Fantasy
Publisher: Multiple publishers over the years
Publication date: First published in 1973 (almost ten years after the first book
Paperback: about 272 Pages
“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.” Will Stanton turns 11 and learns from Merriman Lyon, the Lady, and Circle of Old Ones, that he must find six Sign symbols and battle the Black Rider, blizzard and flood.
Standalone or series: Second book in The Dark Is Rising sequence
How did I get this book: Bought
Format (e- or p-): Print
It came to pass that I finally read the Over Sea, Under Stone, the first book in the Dark is Rising Sequence a couple of weeks ago and I really liked it. Most of all, I liked the fact that the review generated good discussion from enthusiastic fans of the series. It made me want to continue pronto so we can all talk about it.
SO. Here we are. Let’s.
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.
The Directive: It’s almost Christmas time in good old England and on his 11th birthday Will Stanton is told by
Merlin Merriman and The Lady that he is not just a young boy. He is, just like them, one of the Old Ones – a circle of special people (?) tasked (?) by the Light to fight the Dark. And The Dark is Rising. One more time. Perhaps for the last time and because it’s the last time ever (maybe), all the Objects of Power must be brought together for One Last Stand (possibly).
A Game of Signs: Will is the appointed, destined Sign-Seeker and must collect six signs that together form the Circle of Six Signs, one of four objects of Power (one of them being the Grail found by the Drew kids in Over Sea, Under Stone).
Thumbs Down: For the fact that the signs basically fall on Will’s lap so easily he might as well have been called the Sign Collector because there was really no seeking whatsoever here.
For the vague, infuriating world-building that often made no sense, since it was based on “Because”. WHY Will? Because. Why is he the only Old One that is actually a Young One? Because. Why is he the only one to appear to have been reincarnated? Because. Why did it all have to happen on his eleventh birthday? Because. Why AT THIS GREAT TIME OF PERIL, it is a child who knows nothing
John Snow and still has to learn everything about his past, history and powers very fast (so fast), the One who is tasked to Save the World? This seems like such a counterproductive way to go about this, no wonder this fight has been going for so long. Get your act together, Light.
And I know, ok, I know fully well this is A Fantasy Trope (The Destined Chosen One) but it’s one that always frustrates me if not interrogated or subverted somehow.
Not Enough Ladies. Not even The Lady.
On the Subject of Will: One of the things that I thought most interesting when reading the comments on that first review was how Will was such a divisive character: some loved him, some thought he was super boring. I like Will and even though he seems to be a pawn in the Light’s game, the fact that he is an old man trapped in the body of a child torn between two different families – his Old one and his real one – was rather heart-wrenching in its possibilities. I didn’t think this was explored to its fullest potential but here is hoping as the series continues this will come into play.
Thumbs Way Up: TIME TRAVEL!
For the atmosphere – I often could feel the cold and the wonderful build up to the Christmas holidays. I got goosebumps when the ending came, and the dead king rose and the Wild Hunt galloped.
For Will’s family dynamics – it is one of my favourite things from both books so far, especially the relationship between siblings.
DID I MENTION TIME TRAVEL?
50 Shades of Grey: Possibly the best thing about this novel is Walker/Hawkin. This is where the story was at its strongest for me because of the fairly explicit implications stemming from this character’s arc. For all its vagary and the fact that this a Chosen One story with the Light destined to fight the Dark because the Dark is so Bad, the thing is: the Light is not so squeaky clean is it? Take Walker for example, and the fact that his character was groomed by the Light as friend when in fact he was nothing but a pawn to die if necessary. He is betrayed by the Light – by his mentor/best friend/father figure Merriman – and when he understandably questions his affiliations (wouldn’t you?) he is cast-off, cursed to walk the Earth for 600 years, out of his own time, carrying the heavy burden of Betrayal and the Bronze Sign. Wow, Light, what a Darkish move.
LET’S NOT FORGET: How the Light likes to erase people’s memories when convenient.
Regrets: That I didn’t read this over the Christmas holidays because if there was ever a book that was made to be read over the Christmas holidays, this is it.
Next: Yay, the Drew siblings are back for the third instalment, Greenwitch. Let’s all reconvene here on this Smuggler-channel on March 04. Yes?
Buy the Book:
(click on the links to purchase)