Skip to main content

Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper

Over Sea, Under Stone (The Dark is Rising, #1)Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first novel in the Dark Is Rising sequence, a five book seiries published from 1965 to 1977, is perhaps the story most directed to younger audiences. The principal characters in the story are Simon, Jane, and Barney Drew. Their family is visiting a fishing village in Cornwall called Trewissick where they are meeting their great-uncle Merriman Lyon, renowned for his puzzling behavior and reputation for outlandish explorations. They are lodged at Grey House, and while exploring they find an old drawing, which they later decide is a treasure map. Barney, who is obsessed with Arthurian tales, discovers a relationship between the map and those old legends. Much of the novel deals with the mystery of how the map is solved.

Meanwhile, they also stumble into a war between two opposed powers: the Dark and the Light. The Dark is a widespread network of evil agents who are trying to destroy order in the universe, replacing it with regimes where power is achieved by force instead of reason. Opposed to the Dark are the forces of Light, who seem weaker, but are victorious when allied with courage and positivity. Their Grand-Uncle Merry, or Gumerry, is an agent of Light, and the village is crawling with dangerous members of the Dark who also desire the treasure to which the map leads. Thus is the lives of the Drew children put into jeopardy and the fun begins.

It is a lot of fun really. The innocence of the children and their inherent goodness endears the reader to them, and there is never any question whose side you should favor. For this reason, if you are looking for complexity and character moral conflict, you will find this story somewhat lacking. There are no gray lines here. Dark and Light are absolutes of Evil and Good. You could quibble and follow the logic of the Dark that attacks Merriman’s character (his actions are mysterious and his motives are perhaps more complex than he lets on), but the Drew children never falter. Anyway, my point is that this is far more like Tolkienesque absolutism than Westerosi relativity.

One thing I really liked were the characters. The children were very believable. I love Merriman too and the Vicar (one of the villains). The plot is relatively straightforward as you would expect given the audience. The moral conflict becomes a question of how bravery can overcome the forces of terror.


View all my reviews

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The History of White Onliness in America

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A long horrific account of America's deliberate segregation, its underlying current of white-onliness, born out of Loewen's personal journey of awakening to the fact he was surrounded by Sundown Towns, those locales so hostile to blacks that the communities orchestrate ways to keep them out. It's a long, hard slog, filled with disheartening stories, marks of shame of our past, of our present really, but books like this are so important both as eye-openers and motivators. Nobody conscious to American culture--again not just its history! We are talking about the present in many instances here--can deny these exclusionary practices, but Loewen focuses on the scale using census data and adds anecdotes that personalize the experience.

I read a lot of reviews here that mention how terrible reading this makes everyone feel, but for my part, I am overwhelmed by optimism, because it is cl…

Nwahulwana

Wazimbo's "Nwahulwana"
Found this on a German site: Warum wanderst du von Bar zu Bar? (“Why do you wander from bar to bar?”)
So, the first time I heard this I thought I recognized some Portuguese, but it’s illusory; the language is actually Ronga. I suppose it was just the echoes of Brazilian music. I found, though, a translation into Portuguese, which I will translate to English, but here’s the thing: this transcription of the words isn’t correct. Also, I’m almost certain I hear “vôce” which means “you” in the lyrics. First, “nwahulwana” itself is a soft expression for prostitute, hence “night bird” is the poetic meaning. I thought it was a love song. My wife thought it was a prayer (probably because of the way Wazimbo lifts his eyes to the sky when he sings “Maria”). So, it is something like this, but there are mistakes, because the lines don’t match up. Also, I wonder if he is singing “Nwahulwana” when the song starts - . It’s hard to know since I don’t speak Ronga. 

Her…

Script Abbreviations in Screen Writing

SCRIPT ABBREVIATIONS 
ELS extreme long shot  MLS medium long shot  LS long shot  MS medium shot  MCU medium close-up  CU close-up  ECU extreme close-up  OS over-the-shoulder shot  2-S or 3-S two-shot or three-shot  POV point of view shot  ZI or ZO zoom in or zoom out  INT interior  EXT exterior  SOT or SOF sound on tape or sound on film BG background  SFX or F/X special effects (can be either sound or visual)  VO voice-over  OSV off-screen voice  DIS dissolve  MIC microphone  VTR videotape  Q cue (as in cue talent)  ANNCR announcer 
SUPER superimposition