- 5 Vol.s in one
- Over Sea, Under Stone
- The Dark Is Rising
- The Grey King
- Silver On The Tree
“Where is he?”
Barney hopped from one foot to the other as he clambered down from the trains peering in vain through the white-faced crowds flooding eagerly to the St. Austell ticket barrier
The first book in this sequence of five was originally published in 1965, so you might think that these books are quite dated, but you’d be wrong. There is the occasional hint that it isn’t a modern book, but nothing that detracts from the story, or from the characters.
My first introduction to this series came when I picked up The Grey King at a jumble sale a good few years ago. That was at least ten years ago, probably more. I really enjoyed the book, although I do remember being a bit annoyed that the cover illustration was clearly not a sheepdog. I did look for the others in the series but never found them in the library, and it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I reminded of the book when I spotted this collection on play.com, and bought it.
The series starts with Over Sea, Under Stone where the three Drew children (Jane, Simon and Barney) are holidaying with their parents and great Uncle Merry in Cornwell. A chance find in the house they are staying in leads them to a treasure hunt, and a search for the Grail. In the course of which they come to realise that Merry is more than simply an eccentric academic.
The second book introduces us to Will Stanton, and to the idea of the Old Ones. Will is the youngest of this circle, Merriman Lyon (Great Uncle Merry) is the oldest. Together they must search out the six signs that will be needed to defeat the Dark.
In the third book, Greenwitch Will meets the Drews. At first the Drews think he will get in the way, they think he doesn’;t know about the Light and the Dark, but gradually they accept that they have to work together.
The fourth book sees Will off on his own. This is his first quest on his own, he has no Merriman to guide him in Wales as he searches for the harp that will wake the six Sleepers. In Wales he meets Bran, a local boy who is somewhat of an outcast as his father is overly religious and Bran himself is an albino. Bran’s closest friend is his devoted dog, Cafall
The final book, Silver on the Tree sees all six characters united for the final battle against the Dark.
As a series the first book seems a little out of place, it is a lot lighter, more childish than the later ones, and this is because Susan Cooper said that when she wrote Over Sea, Under Stone she never ended it to be part of a series. The rest of the books mix myth and fantasy with a great story to produce a very readable story. Local folklore is combined with more widely known legends. Arthurian legend plays a large role, especially in the final two books.
I would highly recommend these books to any fantasy/myth fans. I think my favourite will always be The Grey King, but the sequence as a whole more than lives up to my memory.