The Grey King is the first book I actually read of the Dark is Rising sequence, despite the fact that it’s actually the fourth book of the series. Thinking back about it, I actually read a far number of series in weird order when I was that age, and unable to buy books to supplement what I could find at the local library.
In The Grey King, Will Stanton is off to Wales to recuperate from a serious illness. He’s actually lost some of his memory while he was sick, and while he knows there was something very important he needed to do, he can’t remember what that was. Once he arrives in Wales, little hints of this important task begin to present themselves.
It’s when Will meets Bran Davies, the son of the one his uncle’s farm hands, that his memory comes back, and he remembers that he’s one of the Old Ones, and he’s been sent to Wales to find the Golden Harp of the Light, which will wake the Sleepers, important allies of the Light. Bran and his dog, Cafall, are destined to help Will in this quest.
My favorite part of this book is extremely tied up in Bran’s story, and I won’t repeat it here because of major spoilers. I was just coming into a phase of my life where I had a mild obsession with one of the legend-based characters in this book, and I found this story to be an interesting twist on that legend. I also really loved the Welsh details thrown in the book. Cooper’s Welsh pronunciation guide was one of the things that guided me into an interest in the Celtic languages.
I waffle back and forth when asked what my favorite book of this series is. It’s either the Dark is Rising or this book. Considering that The Grey King is a Newbery Medal winner, and the Dark is Rising is a Newbery Honor book, it’s pretty clear I’m not the only one that finds these two the best in the series.