The Grey King (The Dark Is Rising Sequence Series #4)

The Grey King (The Dark Is Rising Sequence Series #4)

by Susan Cooper
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The Grey King (The Dark Is Rising Sequence Series #4) by Susan Cooper

There is a Welsh legend about a harp of gold, hidden within a certain hill, that will be found by a boy
and a white dog with silver eyes -- a dog that can see the wind. Will Stanton knew nothing of this
when he came to Wales to recover from a severe illness. But when he met Bran, the strange boy who
owned a white dog, he began to remember. For Will is the last-born of the Old Ones, immortals
dedicated to saving the world from the forces of evil, the Dark. And it is Will's task to wake --
with the golden harp -- the six who must be roused from their long slumber in the Welsh hills to
prepare for the last battle between the Dark and the Light.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780701150716
Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/1975
Series: Dark Is Rising Sequence Series , #4
Pages: 208
Age Range: 9 - 14 Years

About the Author

Susan Cooper is one of our foremost children’s authors; her classic five-book fantasy sequence The Dark Is Rising has sold millions of copies worldwide. Her many books have won the Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor, and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and been shortlisted five times for the Carnegie Medal. She combines fantasy with history in Victory (a Washington Post Top Ten for Children novel), King of Shadows and Ghost Hawk, and her magical The Boggart and the Monster, second in a trilogy, won the Scottish Arts Council’s Children’s Book Award. Susan Cooper lives on a saltmarsh island in Massachusetts, and you can visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

Will pedalled hard, blessing the valley road for its winding flatness, and freewheeling only when his pounding heart seemed about to leap right out of his chest. He rode one-handed. He had said nothing about his hurt arm, and Bran had not noticed, but it hurt abominably if he so much as touched the handlebars with his left hand. He tried not to think about the way it would feel when carrying the golden harp.

That was the only thing to be done, now. The music of the harp was the only magic within his reach that would release Pen from the power of the warestone. In any case, it was time now to bring the harp to the pleasant lake, to accomplish its deeper purpose. Everything was coming together, as if two roads led to the same mountain pass; he could only hope that the pass would now be blocked by some obstacle able to hinder both at once. This time more than ever, the matter of holding the Dark at bay depended as much on the decisions and emotions of men as on the strength of the Light. Perhaps even more.

Broken sunlight flickered in and out of his eyes, as clouds scudded briskly over the sky. At least, he thought wryly, we've got a good day for it all. His wheels sang on the road; he was nearly at Clwyd Farm now. He wondered how he was to explain his sudden arrival, and equally sudden departure afterwards, to Aunt Jen. She would probably be the only one there. She must have been there for Caradog Prichard's appearance earlier that morning, and the changing of his two mutilated tyres. Perhaps he could say that he had come to get something to help put Prichard off the scent, to keep him from finding Pen... something John Rowlands had suggested... but still he would have to leave thehouse with the golden harp. Aunt Jen would not be likely to let that sacking-swathed object past her sharp eye without at least inquiring what was wrapped up in there. And what possible reason could anyone have, least of all her nephew, for not letting her see?

Will wished, not for the first time, that Merriman were with him, to ease such difficulties. For a Master of the Light, it was no great matter to transport beings and objects not only through space but through time, in the twinkling of an eye. But for the youngest of the Old Ones, however acute his need, that was a talent too large.

He came to the farm; rode in; pushed through the back door. But when he called, no one came. He realised suddenly with a great lightening of the spirits that he had seen no cars in the yard outside. Both his aunt and uncle must have gone out; that was one piece of luck, at any rate. He ran upstairs to his bedroom, said the necessary words to release the golden harp from protection, and ran down again with it under his arm, a rough sacking-wrapped bundle of odd triangular shape. He was halfway across the yard to the bicycle when a Land Rover chugged in through the gate.

For a second Will froze in panic; then he walked slowly, carefully, to the bicycle, and turned it ready to leave.

Owen Davies climbed out of the car and stood looking at him. He said, "Was it you left the gate open?"

"Oh, gosh." Will was genuinely shocked: he had committed the classical farm sin, without even noticing. "Yes, I did, Mr Davies. That's awful. I'm most terribly sorry."

Owen Davies, thin and earnest, shook his flat-capped head in reproof. "One of the most important things to remember, it is, to shut any gate you have opened on a farm. You do not know what livestock of your uncle's might have slipped out, that should have been kept in. I know you are English, and no doubt a city boy, but that is no excuse."

"I know," Will said. "And I'm not even a city boy. I really am sorry. I'll tell Uncle David so."

Taken aback by this implication of honest confidence, Owen Davies surfaced abruptly from the pool of righteousness that had threatened to swallow him. "Well," he said. "Let us forget it this time, both of us. I dare say you will not do it again."

His gaze drifted sideways a little. "Is that Bran's bike you have there? Did he come with you?"

Will pressed the shrouded harp tight between his elbow and his side. "I borrowed it. He was out riding, and I was... up the valley, walking, and I saw him, and we thought we'd have a go at flying a big model plane I've been making." He patted the bundle under his arm, swinging his leg over the bicycle saddle at the same time. "So I'm going back now. Is that all right? You don't need him for anything?"

"Oh, no," Owen Davies said. "Nothing at all."

"John Rowlands took Pen to Mr. Jones at Ty-Bont all safe and sound," Will said brightly. "I'm supposed to be having dinner there, late-ish Mrs. Jones said would it be all right if I took Bran back with me too, Mr Davies? Please?"

The usual expression of alarmed propriety came over Owen Davies's thin face. "Oh, no, now, Mrs Jones is not expecting him, there is no need to bother her with another -- "

Unexpectedly, he broke off. It was as if he heard something, without understanding it. Puzzled, Will saw his face become oddly bemused, with the look of a man dreaming a dream that he has dreamed often but never been able to translate. It was a look he would never have expected to find on the face of a man so predictable and uncomplicated as Bran's father.

Owen Davies stared him full in the face, which was even more unusual. He said, "Where did you say you and Bran were playing?"

Will's dignity ignored the last word. He kicked at the bicycle pedal. "Out on the moor. Quite a long way up the valley, near the road. I don't know how to describe it exactly -- but more than halfway to Mr Jones's farm."

"Ah," Owen Davies said vaguely. He blinked at Will, apparently back in his usual nervous person. "Well, I daresay it would be all right if Bran goes to dinner as well, John Rowlands being there -- goodness knows Megan Jones is used to feeding a lot of mouths. But you must be sure to tell him he must be home before dark."

"Thank you!" said Will, and made off before he could change his mind, carefully closing the gate after he had ridden through. He shouted a farewell, with just time to notice Bran's father's hand slowly raised as he rode away.

But he was not many yards along the road, riding awkwardly one-handed and slowly with the harp clutched in his aching left arm, before all thought of Owen Davies was driven from his head by the Grey King. Now the valley was throbbing with power and malevolence. The sun was at its highest point,

though no more than halfway up the sky in that November day. The last part of the time for the fulfilling of Will's only separate quest had begun. His mind was so much occupied with the unspoken beginnings of battle that it was all his body could do to push the bicycle, and himself, slowly along the road.

He paid little attention when a Land Rover swished past him, going fast in the same direction. Several cars had passed him already, on both journeys, and in this part of the country Land Rovers were common. There was no reason at all why this one should have differed from the rest.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Psychology Today "Susan Cooper is one of the few contemporary writers who has the vivid imagination, the narrative powers, and the moral vision that permit her to create the kind of sweeping conflict between good and evil that lies at the heart of all great fantasy. Tolkien had it. So did C.S. Lewis. And Cooper writes in the same tradition."

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The Grey King (The Dark Is Rising Sequence Series #4) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is sort of like a dream world that everyone (everyone like me) would want to escape into.. I love how Susan Cooper blends in a lot of myths and legends and forms an explaination for all of them, making all of them connected. Susan Cooper's works are, in my opinion, similar to LotR, but in a good way, unlike other authors works. She is second best only to JRRT (JRR Tolkien). In this book, the Dark gave Will Stanton, the youngest Old One of the Light, a bad cold (worse than you'd think) in order to slow him down in their attempt to rise into power. Will Stanton is aided by the strange albino boy, Bran (the son of someone very famous :) I won't spoil it for you), in order to defeat the Grey King, a terrible Dark Lord. In this book, Bran realizes that sacrifices must be made.
Mythicdreamer More than 1 year ago
The story of Will Stanton and his fight against the Dark continues. This time everything is on the line and Will can not fail! With the help of a new ally, Bran and his ethereal dog, Cadfall, Will fights his most dangerous enemy the Grey King. Armed only with an ancient poem and his wits, Will must follow the signs left by the Old Ones and search the Welsh hills to find the coveted Magical Harp that will shift the tides of power. Fourth in the Dark Is Rising Series, this book pulls the whole series together in such a way that leaves you spellbound long after you turn the last pages. This was the book that sent me, as a kid, searching the hills behind my house for ancient secrets and daydreaming out the window. It was the first book I read in the Fantasy genre and it has left an everlasting impression. Of all the books in the series, this one is the most challenging because it does contain Welsh names and words that can be difficult for younger readers. I also recommend this book for higher level readers as it contains some intense scenes and requires good comprehension skills. You do not have to read the other books in this series before reading this one. Although, it does help to have read the second novel, The Dark Is Rising, as that is when Will Stanton is first introduced.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that The Grey King was a good book because I enjoy reading fiction books. It is about a boy named Will Santon. He is part of a group of people called the Light, who have to stop another group of people called the Dark from taking over the world. I would recomend this book to someone who likes to read fiction books.
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Caitlin Dunne More than 1 year ago
The whole "Dark is Rising" series holds a special place in my heart. This is one of the great YA books out there, I wish she would write some more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first encountered this book as an elementary student, more than 30 years ago. I will never forget picking the book off the library shelf and being riveted in place and time as I read the opening poem. I read The Grey King before I read any of the rest of this series, and it remains my favorite amongst them all to this day. I have read and reread this one story dozens of times over the course of 30 years and continue to be moved by the way in which Cooper weaves a magical tale around a larger theme: that in the heart of every young child is a yearning to wake up and discover that they are powerful and important in this world. I now enjoy discussing this classic with my son who, at 14, has read it many times already and loves it as much as I. I highly recommend this book to children, parents, and teachers. It is an outstanding piece of young adult literature and a wonderful story of triumph over darkness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. I love fiction books and couldn't find one to read for a book report, so I picked this one up. Everybody should read it because it is so engrossing.
Adam_Gentry More than 1 year ago
In the shadow of a king, he will wake. In the aftermath of a dreadful illness, Will travels to Wales to recover his strength, and his memory. For Will once held a secret, an ancient verse, taken from him in the height of his fever. Bit by bit the words come back to him, until a chance encounter brings it all rushing back. Will is an Old One, and it is his quest to wake an ancient power, before the Grey King can seal it away. For the first time in the series, Will sets out on an uncertain path. He’s forced to find his way without the guidance of his master, Merriman, relying instead on the support of friends and family, who for the most part remain ignorant of his otherworldly role. The harsh demands of the Light, referenced in earlier books, are strikingly realized in this tragically personal story. Description and character remain strengths of the series, but plot joins them, as mundane and magical conflicts blend, as equals, into a rich tableau, with twists and uncertainties sorely lacking in prior volumes. This may be the strongest volume in the Dark is Rising series. It’s certainly my favorite. +Strong Characters +Strong Ideas +Strong Description +Strong Plot *A blend of young and mature 4/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way too awsome for your eyes!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will Santon goes to Wales to recover from an illness. When Will gets to Wales he starts to remember his quest. When Will meets a strange boy named Bran he remembers his entire quest. Will’s quest is to find the golden harp and awaken the sleepers. Will also has to deal with a man who wants to kill all of the dogs. The man thinks that the dogs are killing his sheep. There are white foxes that only will can see, they are killing the sheep. Will has to prepare for the last battle between the light and dark. I didn’t like the beginning because it had no action Will just went around meeting people. The book got better when Will meet Bran because they start trying to find the golden harp. I didn’t want to stop reading when Will and Bran started going into Birds Rock because there was lots of action.
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