I read this book series as a kid back in the late 1970s, so it's an old series - and my memories are similarly old, and vague.

I know it's a fantasy series. I think there are 4 books in the series. Or perhaps 7.

There's a central boy character who has to get a collection of magical objects (every fantasy needs a quest!), each of which represents a different magical 'element': wood, stone, fire, etc. I definitely remember there was a wooden object. He lives in our normal world. The whole series takes place "here & now". I have a feeling he's a "chosen" person of some kind... But, the strongest memory I have is of a symbol: a circle which is divided into quarters (a vertical bar and a horizontal bar).

I know it's vague, but does anyone recognise this?

  • BtW: Just for the sake of clarity, it is 5 books. Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King and Silver on the Tree. Some people skip over the first book and still manage to understand the rest of the series just fine. Commented Jan 4, 2013 at 17:39

1 Answer 1


This is The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. The book you are describing is called "The Dark is Rising," and is second in a series of five which takes place in Britain.

Will Stanton is the last of The Old Ones, a supernatural race destined to fight evil. He does this by collecting signs in the form of a "circle quartered by a cross."

For reference, the rhyme included in the book:

Iron for the birthday,
bronze carried long,
wood from the burning,
stone out of song

Fire from the candle-ring,
water from the thaw,
six signs the circle,
and the Grail gone before

Other books deal with his continued adventures, as well as the adventures of three siblings (Simon, Jane, and Barney), who end up finding the Holy Grail. The whole story ends up being tied strongly to the Arthur myth, including a recurring character who is strongly implied to be Merlin.

  • 1
    Yes, as soon as the OP mentioned the symbol, it was definitely The Dark Is Rising. Great books. Commented Aug 14, 2012 at 22:22
  • That's it! Thank you! I can now track this down, for old times' sake. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 9:58
  • Shouldn't be too hard. I'm pretty sure they got a re-printing five years ago (maybe a few more) when a movie came out. It bombed, unfortunately. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 13:42
  • 2
    It bombed because it was a terrible movie that scarcely had any connection to the source material. However I was able to buy a 5-volumes-in-one book about 10 years ago. Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 15:19

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