I’m looking for a book series about a boy whose name is Will, I think. He is a wizard but doesn’t know it. He has a circle amulet with a cross in the middle. The books are related to the King Arthur legend, and ravens are messengers for the bad side. It was read to me in the ’80s

1 Answer 1


These are the five books of the Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper: Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising; Greenwich; The Grey King; and Silver on the Tree. They were published between 1965 and 1977.

Most of what you describe sounds like it comes from the second book, The Dark is Rising, which introduces the primary protagonist, Will Stanton. Wikipedia describes him this way:

The main character of the second novel, and a major character in the entire series, he is the seventh son of a seventh son, in a large, close human family. His eleventh birthday marks the beginning of his magical awakening and rise to power as the last of the Old Ones. The Dark Is Rising tells how he came to power, met Merriman Lyon, and accumulated the six "signs" to help fight the Dark.

Each of the signs has the form of a circular disk, inscribed with a plus sign (the symbol of the Light), and each is made of a different material. Will collects them over the course of the book and adds them to an improvised necklace, which is eventually replaced with a (semi-)permanent setting created by Wayland Smith (another of the Old Ones).

When the Dark comes rising six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; Water, fire, stone;
Five will return and one go alone.

Iron for the birthday; bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning; stone out of song;
Fire in the candle ring; water from the thaw;
Six signs the circle and the grail gone before.

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the sleepers, oldest of old.
Power from the Green Witch, lost beneath the sea.
All shall find the Light at last, silver on the tree

The books are strongly influenced by British Celtic folklore, with much of the action taking place in Wales and Cornwall. In the final book, several of the characters even get to travel back in time to the days of King Arthur himself. Arthur's son is another major character, appearing in the last two books, and the Merriman Lyon mentioned in Wikipedia quote above is actually Merlin. Other Celtic figures, such as Herne the Hunter (shown below) also appear.

The first book, Over Sea, Under Stone is quite different from the rest, written before Cooper developed the epic cosmology that is introduced in the second book. Over Sea, Under Stone is a much more conventional childhood adventure story, with little to no magic, about three siblings who go in search of a lost treasure while they are holidaying on the Cornish coast. Opinions differ about whether this makes it better or worse than some of the sequels, but it is definitely quite distinct in character.

The books have seen many covers over the years, but if you were read The Dark is Rising back in the 1980s (when I read it), it probably would have been one of these two.

Original Hardback Cover Paperback Cover


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