Name: Silver On The Tree (Book Five Of TheDark Is Rising Sequence)
Author: Susan Cooper
The six servants of the Light – the Drew children, Will, Bran and the mysterious Merriman – have reached their last, desperate fight against the forces of the Dark. They face one final, daunting task: to find the crystal sword. Their search will lead them from their own world to the haunting, magical Lost Land between sea and shore – and they will each stare death in the face before the battle’s final moments.
Synopis from Goodreads
For a bit of backstory, Silver On The Tree is the last book in the fromwhatI’veheard iconic Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. It’s a series I’d got for my birthday but not read until recently becuase I’d (I’ll admit it) written off because it’s target audience is 11 year olds. The first book felt like a
slog very standalone ‘magical book’ about a one off adventure. And then it was as if the author realised that these books were actually quite good! Or at least was selling well. By the second, we were introduced to this extensive world of Dark vs Light that that first adventure had only been a small part of. It reminded me of how the first Narnia book is actually ‘The Magician’s Nephew’, but people only remember ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’.
Whilst reading, I was comparing it to Harry Potter. And I think that the main thing it was lacking (other than all the world building and Luna Lovegood) was the characters. Silver On The Tree had quite obvious plot twists, but I wasn’t the intended audience. The characters were all quite flat – in a very 70’s fashion, there’s only one girl who’s quite scared… and the rare moments she’s not, Jane (yes) was stubborn and grumpy and always the one who wandered off into the obvious lair of the evil dragon?! Hmmm. On the other hand, the boys didn’t have discernible personalities. It made me want to read Harry Potter again.
Interesting social commentery from the time. Obviously it was published in the 70’s and a lot has changed since then, expecially with how gender and different races are portrayed in literature, so that was interesting. Although, the book included a few choice words that wouldn’t be seen in a kid’s book today.
This might be a weird take, but it felt like there was often a deeper message than just some people destroying the Dark. It almost used the whole fantasy front as an exuse to put forward adult ideas to a younger audience. One of the main boys, Will, was an Old One, so these messages could be pushed through to an eleven year old reader through a fictional eleven year old, but one who can say adult stuff because he’s actually an ancient wise man. Handy, right?
Pacing: really slow. Not a lot happened but the little that did was so vivid and detailed. Susan Cooper was birlliant at creating atmosphere with rich, almost cinematic imagery. I could see them being good movies! She’d also nailed the dialogue by this last book.
Additionally, I had to accept that I was confused about the visuals of some scenes. It was all very out of this world oddness, nothing to parallel it to. I had to accept that I’d just build an overall picture of the scene rather than going back and trying to understand what all the details would look like. Although whilst I said it was out of this world, it was also very much in it. Susan Cooper didn’t create a new magical world like the Narnia or something; Wales was seen as the magical land. And I really loved that – not just the whole Britishness of it but also how I could so clearly see Wales as this wild wilderness full of old spells and higher magic. And all that detail brought it to life (even if there was way too much of it). So, this was actually an incredibly good series: one that I’m very glad I didn’t DNF becuase I thought it was for a younger audience 🙂