Silver on the Tree
by Susan Cooper
**This review won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the rest of the series**
This is the final book in The Dark is Rising series and I’ll admit, it was sad to say goodbye. Everything has been building to the final battle between the dark and the light and this book provided a satisfying conclusion. For me, the action sequences have never been the draw. It’s the relationships that make the series a success and in this book, all the characters are together for the first time. Of course, when everyone is finally together there’s a bit of rivalry, but that would happen with any group.
Will has really grown as a character, balancing his life as a young man and as an Old One can’t be easy, but it seems like he has matured. His role in the series is actually pretty tragic. It broke my heart when Will tells his brother who he really is and his brother doesn’t believe him. He then has to make him forget what he said. It seems like the people who fight for what’s right often lead such lonely lives.
This book features some wonderful new characters, like Gwion, and some intense scenes, like Will and Bran being chased by the skeletal horse. There’s also a great scene where Will and Merriman travel back in time to when the Romans were in Britain. Also, Jane’s role becomes vital in this book, because she and the Grey Lady are both females, so they have a special connection.
One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed the most from this series is the way the “Dark” attacks people. It’s not about violent attacks or brute force; instead they plant seeds of doubt and prey on people’s fears. They manipulate and tempt and those are much more effective ways of getting what you want. It’s much easier to stand strong against a physical attack than it is to resist the idea that you aren’t good enough or that someone has betrayed you.
One thing I wished I’d known about the series before I began it is that there is a central cast of characters, but they aren’t in every book. The main characters include Simon, Jane and Barney Drew, Merriman Lyon, Will Stanton, Bran and a few others. The first book features the Drew sibling, we don’t meet Will until the second book and the Drew siblings aren’t even in that one. Bran doesn’t show up until the fourth book, etc. It all comes together in the final book, but I think I would have enjoyed the second book much more if I had stopped waiting for the Drew siblings to appear.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed the whole series, especially the references to the Arthur/Merlin legend. I wish I’d read them when I was young, but I’m glad to discover them now.
“‘Why should some of the Riders of the Dark be dressed all in white and the rest all in black?’
Will said reflectively, ‘I don’t know. Maybe because the dark can only reach people at extremes, blinded by their own shining ideas or locked up in the darkness of their own heads.’”