Once upon a time, as a child, I read a series by Susan Cooper titled, "The Dark Is Rising" after its second book. I'm considering using the series with my daughter who is a HUGE history fan to introduce her to the fantasy genre. I don't remember how much historical reference is made and to which time periods but I do vaguely remember feeling like there were at least references to historical artifacts. Can anyone help me out?

Let me clarify that I'm not looking for authentic historical information for her, I just think references might create a nice bridge for my budding historian.

  • If your daughter is old enough to be reading about adult subjects -- e.g. sex and murder -- you might look at the books of Barbara Hambly. She has a Master's degree in medieval history, and it shows in her fantasy novels. (She also has a black belt in Shotokan Karate, so her fight scenes feel more solid than most, but I digress.) – Beta Nov 23 '12 at 17:45
  • No. She's six. She does know a lot of history that includes murder and intrique but nothing where it is discussed explicitily. – balanced mama Nov 23 '12 at 17:49

The Dark is Rising Sequence is heavily based on Arthurian legend. While it does reference many artifacts, they are more mythological artifacts than historical. For example, a magical grail (presumably the Holy Grail) is featured in the first book. Other books feature a magic crystal sword, a magic golden harp, and circles with Sun crosses made out of various materials.

Likewise, references to past events are usually references to legendary events rather than actual historical events.

FWIW, I think that the series is a good introduction for your daughter. While it might not be historically accurate, the mythology that it references is quite historically and socially relevant.

  • Thanks, I just think she would find the references intriguing. We read lots of historical fiction together and since I LOVE fantasy fic and sci fi, of course I want to find an "in" for her too. That is about what I remembered - though I couldn't even put my finger on whether the references were egyptian, roman or what have you without going and getting the book and rereading it myself. – balanced mama Nov 22 '12 at 1:59
  • There are some references to Roman Britain. – Adele C Nov 22 '12 at 2:21
  • @balancedmama It's mostly Roman Britain and Celtic myths. There are some interesting traditions explored which might come close enough to historical for your daughter. Lost of lore and legend is mentioned. I would suggest Mr. Norrel and Johnathan Strange but it might be a bit much for a 6 year old. – Kevin Howell Jan 8 '13 at 20:12
  • @KevinHowell Thanks, I'll check them out and see. – balanced mama Jan 9 '13 at 3:39

Not really. The Old Ones have power over time, and Will and Merry do travel back in time - to the Victorian age, for example - but there's not much reference to the periods they find themselves in.

The main reference is to Arthurian legend, which although fascinating isn't a real historical period.

Great books, but I wouldn't regard them as any guide to history.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.