Book name: Silver on the Tree
Author: Susan Cooper
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Vintage children’s books
Publication Date: 1977
Star Rating: 4/5
Silver on the Tree is the fifth and final book in ‘the Dark is Rising’ sequence.
Silver on the Tree was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and won the Tir na N-Og award.
When Silver on the Tree opens, Will is relaxing with his brothers down by the river.
The sight of some mink unsettles him and he then sees people from centuries earlier fleeing from the evil invading their land.
Will is used to such visions and he interprets this as a sign that the next, and final, stage of the Light’s battle against the Dark may be imminent.
On the way home, the Stanton boys come across racist youths tormenting a young boy.
This evil is followed by the return of the mink to kill the Stanton’s chickens, and subsequently the arrival of one of the boys’ bigoted fathers to complain about Stephen’s resistance to their racism.
The emerging theme is one of senseless violence and hatred combined with a love of killing for its own sake.
These are dark times, even in the village where Will and his family live.
Will’s identity as one of the Old Ones is also triggered by his elder brother Stephen’s mention of two members of the Old Ones accosting him in Gibraltar and the Caribbean.
The Old Ones asked Stephen to send a message to Will that they stand ready to help him in the battle against the Dark.
Will and his mentor Merriman must retrieve the Signs from their refuge so that they can play their role in the forthcoming battle against the Dark.
Once they have done so, Will is unsurprised to be invited back to Wales, where he previously met Bran, son of King Arthur living incognito in a farming community.
Things are on the move, and when Will meets up with the Drews (Jane, Barney and Simon) we know that confrontation is imminent.
Silver on the Tree is the first time that Bran and the Drews have met. High up in the mountains, Will calls to the Lady. She appears before Jane to deliver the rhyming message that will be their blueprint for how to defeat the Dark.
Will and Bran must find the crystal sword, but the rhyme provides clues. As usual, interfering adults threaten their progress almost as much as the powers of the Dark.
Will and Bran peel off to undertake the most perilous part of their quest, fulfilling Bran’s destiny as Arthur’s son by using the rhyme to rescue the sword Eirias.
They encounter Will’s old foe the Rider, who seeks the sword on behalf of the Dark.
A final battle brings ‘the Dark is Rising’ sequence to a close.
I always enjoy reading Silver on the Tree, mostly because the final confrontation between Light and Dark has been powerfully led up by the first four books.
It was great to see the Drews, Will and Bran together for the first time and to see more of Will and Bran as a pair.
The fantasy element of an ancient king combined with a fairy tale feel to the spell protecting the king and the sword. Susan Cooper drew upon lots of different sources of inspiration to bring ‘the Dark is Rising’ sequence to a climax, so it felt as if there was a little of everything in here.
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