'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 the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.'
As a child I developed my love of fantasy and superheroics. I suppose that what appeals to a child about a fantasy novel is the sense of mystery, adventure and the fact that no one in a fantasy novel need be powerless against the forces of evil let loose in the world. Haven't you ever dreamed about being able to use magic to solve the inconvenience of lacking a parking spot or being late to work? Isn't one of our greatest fears that sense of powerlessness, the frustration that we cannot control everything?
I know that some people do not like this series. I suppose it is better appreciated when read as a child. Reading it again now for the fifth or so time I see the simplicity of the narrative, those few elements that don't quite make sense or seem a little shallow. I must admit that the slight dig at how religion isn't relevant in this magical world also irks me in the book. But that said this is in the end a novel and when you can see those little things you laugh at them and then ignore them to enjoy the overall story. Or at least I do. The one thing I've always appreciated about this series is the story of Dark versus Light, good versus evil, one boy discovering his supernatural powers.
The three verse poem written above represents the entire sequence of this series (which I prefer to read in the order of book 2, 1, 3, 4, 5 as for me the proper story begins here in the story of Will Stanton, last of the Old Ones. On his eleventh birthday, Will discovers that he has a calling to discover six magical signs which will enable the forces of the Light to begin their battle over evil.
Most of the mythology and fairytale elements of this story are taken from Celtic origins which is a fascinating set of mythology to me. But don't ever read this expecting Tolkien or Lewis I still rate them a little higher than this. But this is still a classic children's fantasy series and deserves to be read by audiences. Interestingly reading it today it still reads like the first time I read it. Only I'm an even faster reader now than I was then. Perhaps my powers are awakening like Will's...