When young Will Stanton, the youngest of the Old Ones (quasi-immortals fighting to keep the earth from the domination of the sinister Lords of the Dark) comes down with a severe case of hepatitis, he is sent to visit relatives in Wales to convalesce. But his illness has erased vital knowledge he recently received in the quest for the Greenwitch. Without it the Light doesn't have a chance... But his presence in Wales, he soon finds, is no accident. Alone and helpless, without the Great Signs of Light or the help of other Old Ones, he embarks on a quest to find a golden harp that will summon six sleepers for the final confrontation with the Dark. Yet his growing friendship with a taciturn young Welsh boy, Bran Davies, may be his most significant contribution yet to the great battle that is to come.
Of all of the Dark is Rising books, this one is my favorite. Cooper comes back to all of her favorite concerns from "The Dark is Rising" and takes them to new heights.
First, there is Will, a young boy fighting for the Light--and even his own life--in a battle none of the adults around him sees and fewer understand. Even John Rowland, the ambivelant sheep-herder who befriends him when he realizes that Will's presence is awaking dark forces even Will doesn't fully understand. Their discussions of fate and destiny; choice, sacrifice and necessity; form an intriguing philosophical backdrop to the adventures and add a depth to the series very rarely matched in the other books. Especially since John Rowland himself--the advocate of choice in the face of necessity--ultimately makes one of the greatest sacrifices of any of them. (I won't spoil the surprise in the next book!)
And then there's Bran, drawn inevitably into the conflict by a nature more magnificent and more significant than anybody realizes. Kudos to Cooper for making him the kind of character you like but have to admire on his own terms.
"The Grey King," of all of the series, gives me the best sense of Will in both his roles as an Old One and a mortal boy vulnerable to the Grey King's power.
Enjoy this--and enjoy the rest of the series while you're at it!