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Other titles in the His Dark Materials series:
The Amber Spyglassby Philip Pullman
Synopses & Reviews
I read Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy back-to-back-to-back. By the time I'd reached the middle of the first book, The Golden Compass, I was content to exist half in my own world and half in Philip Pullman's. It seemed appropriate, if somewhat perplexing to casual acquaintances. Extending my arm in front of my body, holding an imaginary sharp instrument in my hand, I would show whomever would tolerate me how Will used the subtle knife to cut into other worlds.
"Will says it feels like stitches he's cutting," I explained again and again. "He says he can tell from the feel of each stitch against the blade which world he's about to enter."
Even as I started The Amber Spyglass, I knew I was living on borrowed time. Each sitting with the manuscript pushed my bookmark closer to its final pages and I began to recognize the bittersweet sadness of a wonder passing. Volume Three is the most ambitious installment of the series, shifting from one world to another as storylines converge. Oxford and Cittagazze, the world of the dead...soon enough, these worlds would close to me it felt that way, as if they were slipping away. I hoarded the last chapters of Pullman's magical creation like a sleeper stirring, grasping at the hems of a dream. I hadn't been so gloriously consumed by children's fantasy since the Saturday morning cartoons of my youth. Dave, Powells.com
Published in 40 countries, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – has graced the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.
The Golden Compass forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a world like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set partly in the world we know. The third moves between many worlds.
In The Golden Compass, readers meet 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Jordan College in Oxford, England. It quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own—nor is her world. In Lyra's world, everyone has a personal dæmon, a lifelong animal familiar. This is a world in which science, theology and magic are closely intertwined.
The Subtle Knife is the second part of the trilogy that began with The Golden Compass. That first book was set in a world like ours, but different. This book begins in our own world.
In The Subtle Knife, readers are introduced to Will Parry, a young boy living in modern-day Oxford, England. Will is only twelve years old, but he bears the responsibilities of an adult. Following the disappearance of his explorer-father, John Parry, during an expedition in the North, Will became parent, provider and protector to his frail, confused mother. And it's in protecting her that he becomes a murderer, too: he accidentally kills a man who breaks into their home to steal valuable letters written by John Parry. After placing his mother in the care of a kind friend, Will takes those letters and sets off to discover the truth about his father.
The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heartstopping close, marking the third and final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy. Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, The Amber Spyglass introduces a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spy-master to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. And this final volume brings startling revelations, too: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live—and who will die—for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that—in its shocking outcome—will reveal the secret of Dust.
The final volume of Pullman's critically acclaimed fantasy trilogy brings the heart stopping intrigue of "The Golden Compass" and "The Subtle Knife" to a harrowing conclusion. Pullman deftly weaves the cliffhangers and mysteries of the first two books and provides some startling revelations: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead; the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass; and the names of who will live--and who will die--for love.
“The most magnificent fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings.” —The Oregonian
Throughout the worlds, the forces of both heaven and hell are mustering to take part in Lord Asriel’s audacious rebellion. Each player in this epic drama has a role to play--and a sacrifice to make. Witches, angels, spies, assassins, tempters, and pretenders, no one will remain unscathed.
Lyra and Will have the most dangerous task of all. They must journey to a gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone and from which there is no escape.
As war rages and Dust drains from the sky, the fate of the living--and the dead--to depend on Lyra and Will.
A New York Times Bestseller
A Newsweek Top 100 Book of All Time
An Entertainment Weekly All-Time Greatest Novel
Winner of the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award.
Winner of the British Book Award (Children's)
"Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century. An astounding achievement." --The Cincinnati Enquirer
"Breathtaking adventure . . . a terrific story, eloquently told." --The Boston Globe
"War, politics, magic, science, individual lives and cosmic destinies are all here . . . shaped and assembled into a narrative of tremendous pace by a man with a generous, precise intelligence. I am completely enchanted." --The New York Times Book Review
"Masterful. . . . This title confirms Pullman's inclusion in the company of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien." --Smithsonian Magazine
FOR THE FIRST time, the hardcover editions of Philip Pullman's awardwinning His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) with the original, classic covers by Eric Rohmann, will be available in a boxed set.
About the Author
1. Dust, Dark Matter, and Sraf are three different names for the same material. How do these names reflect the different worlds they come from? What attitudes and feelings does each society have about this material?
2. Why do you think the subtle knife breaks when Will thinks of his mother? When the knife breaks, do you think Mrs. Coulter is aware of her influence on Will? Are there any connections between Mrs. Coulter and Will's mother?
3. In each book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a special device (such as the alethiometer, the subtle knife, or the amber spyglass) is introduced in connection with the pursuit of Dust. What are the different properties of each instrument? How does each instrument reflect the personality of the person that uses it (i.e., Lyra, Will, and Dr. Malone)?
4. When asked to mend the subtle knife, Iorek is hesitant: "Sometimes a tool may have other uses that you don't know. Sometimes in doing what you intend you also do what the knife intends, without knowing." What do you think the knife's intentions are? Based on these intentions, who do you think created the knife and for what purpose?
5. By the end of The Amber Spyglass, what similiarites can you see between Lyra and Mrs. Coulter? How is Lyra's storytelling different from Mrs. Coulter's lying?
6. In The Amber Spyglass, Mrs. Coulter goes through a dramatic transformation as her maternal feelings for Lyra break through to the surface. What is the catalyst for this change?
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