By Susan Cooper
To gather the circle, what was lost must be reclaimed.
The Dark is rising in their last bid to claim the world of men. Only the power of the Old Ones can stand against them, but the circle remains incomplete. The Lady is absent. And so once more Will Stanton must embark on a quest; first to find the Lady, and then, with her guidance, seek out the last thing of power, the crystal sword. Joining him on his quest are his master Merriman, the three Drews, and Bran, heir to an ancient legacy. Together they will travel through history, to lost lands and ancient battles, all in preparation for the final battle to cast out the Dark for all time.
An uninspired opening sets a poor example for the first quarter of the book, plodding through scenes before eventually rallying around a problem. Regrettably the story flounders again, forcing characters who just met into open animosity for the sake of tension and conflict. The underlying ideas are interesting, but without the proper time to earn them.
The second quarter brings another change, as the story blossoming into a rich narrative to rival anything that’s come before. Beautiful descriptions linger on otherworldly images, while the characters struggle with ideas that both echo and challenge long held beliefs.
The final turn brings a slight dip, but in its final moments the story acquits itself well, lingering on the bittersweet reality that all things pass in time, with only dreams to remind us.