Saturday, December 31, 2016

loopyker's #CBR8 Review #05: Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper

Silver on the Tree is the final book in the Dark is Rising Sequence.  Here, all the important characters from the Light and the Dark come together for the final battle.

I'm not sure if it was because both times I listened to this, it was too late to give it my best attention, or if it was the story itself, but this was my least favourite of the series.  Alex Jennings returns as narrator, along with the other characters adding a sense of unity to the series.

However, I got confused by a lot of time jumping with Merriman and Will and with the Drew children.  It gave things a disjointed feel and made references to a lot of things in history that I wasn't very familiar with.  In a printed book or ebook, I could have stopped and looked things up.  But that is much more difficult with an audiobook.  I had looked up some of the myths and legends in the previous books, but that was just harder here with the historical periods as well.

We first get to know Will's family a little bit.  There was an all-too-relevant little side-story about racism being a part of the Dark and the Stanton family show their good character.  Then the setting returns to Wales for the most part, similar to The Grey King and including the characters from that 4th book too.  The Drew children join Will and Bran there.

Again, Jane is used to connect to the feminine power of The Lady of the Light, but otherwise is mainly being motherly to the others. The Lady herself is only a very minor character, passing on some cryptic phrases for them to figure out through the story.  There is a minor Dark woman near the end of the book, but again, a distinct lack of real female characters.

Bran and Will get separated from the others and are on their own quest to find a crystal sword in "The Lost Lands".  A place that has sunk into the ocean a long time ago.   Meanwhile the Drews get to know John Rowlands a bit better and generally get tortured by the Dark a little.  I wasn't trusting what Merriman had said through the other books - that the children would never be in danger and wondered if he was just using them for the greater good.

At the end, everyone is gathered together.  All of the Old Ones and all of the Dark, with Bran, John Rowlands, and the Drews in the last race to the special tree.  Whichever side gets the magical flower on it, will control the destiny of the world.

I was captivated, but everything felt rushed and some of it felt forced. And the ending was one that I hate.  It is used all too often in fantasy.  I try not to do spoilers in my reviews but I am making an exception here.  The children were heroes and got their memories wiped of everything about the Old Ones and the Dark forces and magical things.  I think they deserved to remember more.   Although, I do think it was a mercy for John.  But, I also get stuck thinking about the logical implications - like what exactly would they think happened during those trips.  Would they forget everything or just certain parts.    Grrr!!!!

This is a powerful speech at the end (even if tainted by the memory wiping since some of it would make less sense without that larger context).

Merriman says to the children (and that this is all they will remember),
“For remember, that it is altogether your world now. You and all the rest. We have delivered you from evil, but the evil that is inside men is at the last a matter for men to control. The responsibility and the hope and the promise are in your hands-your hands and the hands of all men on this earth. The future can not blame the present, just as the present can not blame the past. The hope is always here, always alive, but only your fierce caring can fan it into a fire to warm the world. 
For Drake is no longer in his hammock, children, nor is Arthur somewhere sleeping, and you may not lie idly expecting the second coming of anybody now, because the world is yours and it is up to you. Now especially since man has the strength to destroy the world, it is the responsibility of man to keep it alive, in all its beauty and marvelous joy. 
And the world will still be imperfect, because men are imperfect. Good men will still be killed by bad, or sometimes by other good men, and there will still be pain and disease and famine, anger and hate. But if you work and care and are watchful, as we have tried to be for you, then in the long run the worse will never, ever, triumph over the better. And the gifts put into some men, that shine as bright as Eirias the sword, shall light the dark corners of life for all the rest, in so brave a world.” 
I really hope he is right!

3.5 stars

Title: Silver on the Tree (The Dark is Rising Sequence, Book 5)
Author: Susan Cooper
Audible Audio Edition
Narrator: Alex Jennings
Duration:  9 hours and 26 minutes
Publisher: Listening Library (August, 2007)

Other Formats: paperback/Kindle ebook
Print length:  274 pages
Publisher:   Margaret K. McElderry Books, Reprint edition (December 1, 2000)
(First Edition: 1977)
ISBN-10: 0689840330
ISBN-13: 978-0689840333
Kindle ASIN: B003R0LC0M

Rating system:
1 star (didn't like); 2 stars (OK); 3 stars (good); 4 stars (very good); 5 stars (favourite)

Also check out Cannonball Read for a variety of book reviews from many others.

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