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‘The Dark Is Rising’ Books: An Intro To Inner Good, Evil

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Jan 20, 2016

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Sometimes, books sneak up on you. There you are, reading a gripping, if rather old-fashioned, fantasy series, and suddenly you think, “Oh my god! This is me.”

Of course, it can’t be you. You’re not looking for the Holy Grail, or signs that will build defences against the evil that is rising in the world. You’re not travelling backwards and sideways in time. You’re not an immortal, an Old One. Nor are you a child helping the Old Ones of the Light vanquish the immortals of the Dark.

But somehow, when you read The Dark Is Rising sequence, a series of five fantasy books by Susan Cooper about the last battle between the forces of Light and Dark, you’re in the books. Because the books are about the fight within yourself: the fight between Light and Dark.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling made books about the fight between good and evil famous. But few books show so clearly how the beginnings of good and evil – the Light and the Dark – are within you as the books in The Dark Is Rising series. First published between 1965 and 1977, these books are timeless.

The books follow the adventures of five children — Will, Simon, Jane, Barney and Bran – and as they seek the tools that will help the Light vanquish the Dark, you realise that you are the one with the power to either welcome the Dark or drive it out. If you’re scared, insecure or angry all the time, you open your mind to the Dark. But if you can face your fears and think through your anger, you let the Light into your mind.

A moral is only as good as the entertainment of the book that conveys it. Above all, The Dark Is Rising is a series of adventure books, and things can get quite scary as the children struggle against the forces of the Dark.

Sorry, did I say children? One of the children is not really a child at all. Will is an Old One. He is both the youngest child in an enormous family and an immortal who has always lived. You meet Will in the second book – The Dark Is Rising. This is the book that explains the first story, Over Sea, Under Stone, in which the adventure begins.

In Over Sea, Under Stone, you meet Simon, Jane and Barney, three children who are spending their holiday with their great uncle Merry (short for Merriman). Gumerry, as the children call him, is a serious, mysterious man, but highly intriguing to the children. And in this book, during their search for the Holy Grail, they discover why. Gumerry is the oldest of the Old Ones. And he works with children because children are the future. Children can change the world.

Book 3 is Greenwitch. Will Jane’s good heart allow the Light to get another of the things of power? Or will her fear allow the Dark to triumph? In Book 4, The Grey King, we meet Bran, strange Bran, with his albino white skin and hair and dark eyes hidden behind shades. Without Bran’s past, there can be no future – but he doesn’t know that yet.

It all comes together in Silver on the Tree, when the Light and the Dark have their final face-off. Frightening things happen in Silver on the Tree: The Dark is at the peak of its powers and has everything to lose. What’s love? What’s fear? What’s truth, and loyalty? The five children have so much to learn as they fight the biggest fight of their lives.

As do you, when you read these books. For any fantasy lover aged 10 and up,  these are a must-read.

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Written By Kushalrani Gulab

Kushalrani Gulab is a freelance editor and writer. She claims she reads children’s literature to find the best books for her nieces and nephews, but actually it’s to find the best books for herself. (She also reads and reviews books for older people.)

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