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The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials, Book 2 (His Dark Materials #02)

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The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials, Book 2 (His Dark Materials #02) Cover

 

 

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of The Subtle Knife. The Subtle Knife is Book Two of Philip Pullman's trilogy "His Dark Materials". In Book One, The Golden Compass, young Lyra Belacqua journeys through "a universe like ours but different in many ways." The most striking difference between Lyra's world and ours is the existence of daemons. These spirit-creatures, physical manifestations of the human soul, can change shape until their human companions reach adolescence. Then each daemon settles into the animal form that best reflects the inner nature of its human counterpart.

In The Golden Compass, Lyra discovers that her mother, Mrs. Coulter, is conducting experiments in which children are severed from their daemons, turning them into emotionless, almost inhuman beings. Mrs. Coulter and her colleagues are doing this to learn more about a substance called "Dust, " which seems to accumulate on humans when they reach maturity. While many fear Dust, both Mrs. Coulter and Lyra's father, Lord Asriel, see it as the source of great power. The Golden Compass concludes with Lord Asriel harnessing the power of Dust to create an opening in the atmosphere of his world, forging a bridge to another universe. This he fearlessly crosses, leaving Mrs. Coulter behind. Lyra perceives that Dust is good and vows to discover its secrets with the help of her "golden compass", or alethiometer, a truth-seeking device. And so Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, follow Lord Asriel into the other world.

The Subtle Knife begins in our own world, where Will Parry, driven by curiosity about his mysterious, missing father and concern for his vulnerable, disturbed mother, accidentally kills an intruder. While fleeing, he finds a "window" into a sunlit otherworld. What could be a better refuge than a hidden universe? But this universe is a strange, empty place: a city that seems to have been abandoned in such haste that food is left rotting on plates at a sidewalk cafe. The inhabitants of the city, Cittágazze, have fled from the invading Specters, ghostlike creatures that devour the souls of adults. But Specters are harmless and invisible to children, and soon Will meets another fugitive child in Cittágazze: Lyra. Although he does not know it, their lives are soon to become forever intertwined when Lyra's alethiometer gives her one simple command: Help Will find his father.

The richly imagined world of Book One seems almost quiet and simple when compared to the turmoil of Book Two. Here "Dust" is called "dark matter" and has been joined by a myriad of other complex phenomena, including the Specters and bene elim (angels). One protagonist has been replaced by two, Lyra and Will. Most significant of all, Lyra's truth-giving compass seems to pale in comparison to the power of Will's new acquisition, the subtle knife, the Æsahættr, the knife that will cut ANYTHING. What can it mean to be the bearer of such an instrument?

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presley.2010, July 17, 2008 (view all comments by presley.2010)
i read this book first, even though it is the second in the His Dark Materials series. After i read it I was left with the insatiable need to read the rest. It is startlingly discriptive and addictive, and pulled me in from page one. I definately reccomend this book to any teen to adult readers interested in a sharp new twist on fantasy and dreamlands. Your bedside lamp will be working overtime with this one, trust me. :)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780440238140
Author:
Pullman, Philip
Publisher:
Laurel Leaf Library
Subject:
Action & Adventure
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - Fantasy
Subject:
Fantasy
Subject:
Imaginary places
Subject:
Fantasy & Magic
Subject:
Fantasy - Epic
Subject:
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;his dark materials;religion;ya;children s;adventure;science fiction;novel;children;magic;children s literature;trilogy;steampunk;alternate universe;children s fiction;british;parallel worlds;england;alternate worlds;sf;coming o
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;magic;science fiction;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;pullman;young adult fiction;phi
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;his dark materials;religion;ya;children s;adventure;science fiction;novel;children;magic;children s literature;trilogy;steampunk;alternate universe;children s fiction;british;parallel worlds;england;alternate worlds;sf;coming o
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;magic;science fiction;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;pullman;young adult fiction;phi
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;his dark materials;religion;ya;children s;adventure;science fiction;novel;children;magic;children s literature;trilogy;steampunk;alternate universe;children s fiction;british;parallel worlds;england;alternate worlds;coming of a
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;pullman;young adult fiction;20t
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;coming of age;pullman;young adu
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;coming of age;pullman;young adu
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;his dark materials;religion;ya;children s;adventure;science fiction;novel;children;magic;children s literature;trilogy;steampunk;alternate universe;children s fiction;british;parallel worlds;england;alternate worlds;coming of a
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;coming of age;pullman;young adu
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;his dark materials;religion;ya;children s;adventure;science fiction;novel;children;magic;children s literature;trilogy;steampunk;alternate universe;children s fiction;british;parallel worlds;england;coming of age;alternate worl
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;coming of age;pullman;young adu
Subject:
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;ya;science fiction;magic;children;adventure;children s;trilogy;novel;his dark materials;children s literature;british;philip pullman;children s fiction;alternate universe;england;atheism;coming of age;pullman;young adu
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Series:
His Dark Materials
Series Volume:
02
Publication Date:
September 2003
Binding:
MASS MARKET
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
7.05x4.19x.85 in. .33 lbs.
Age Level:
from 12

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Related Subjects

Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Young Adult » General

The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials, Book 2 (His Dark Materials #02) Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$2.50 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Laurel-Leaf Books - English 9780440238140 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A literary rollercoaster ride you won't want to miss."
"Review" by , "More than fulfilling the promise of The Golden Compass, this second volume starts off at a heart-thumping pace and never slows down....The grandly exuberant storytelling is sure to enthrall."
"Review" by , "The intricacy of the plot is staggering...There is no doubt that the work is stunningly ambitious, original, and fascinating."
"Review" by , "The character development as well as the relentless pace...make this a resoundingly successful sequel...it will leave readers desperate for the next installment."
"Review" by , "These first two volumes of [the] His Dark Materials trilogy are, simply, magnificent. Pullman has the power of a master fantasist. He imbues an age-old classical struggle with a new mythic vision, the depth and realization of which are staggering."
"Review" by , "As in the first book, the stakes are high and the action is rapid and occasionally violent....The Subtle Knife ends with even more of a cliff-hanger than The Golden Compass, and fans will eagerly await book three for the final resolution."
"Review" by , "Just as quick-moving and unputdownable as [The Golden Compass]....The mysteries deepen and the wonders grow even more extravagant."
"Review" by , "The powerful second installment....[V]intage Pullman..."
"Review" by , "Though this second volume almost succumbs to middle book syndrome, Pullman...avoids it, adroitly, by force of theme....Phillip Pullman measures up; his work is devilishly inventive....Put Philip Pullman on the shelf with Ursula K. LeGuin, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander..."
"Synopsis" by , US
"Synopsis" by , 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.

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