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The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials, Book III


The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials, Book III Cover



Reading Group Guide

The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping conclusion, marking the final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy.

Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison, 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 spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel.

And with rich characters and mounting suspense come 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 in the Kingdom of Heaven — the shocking outcome of this brutal battle will uncover the secret of Dust.

In The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman deftly weaves the cliffhangers and mysteries of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife into an earth-shattering conclusion — and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic. The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of each of the books in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.


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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saluuna, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by saluuna)
"His Dark materials" is a trilogy that will never go out of style. I first read this book (the last in the series) when I was eleven years old, and to this day the imagery and haunting message at the end still stay with me. Now, I know that pretty much every book lover is aware of this book--as they should be, but I cannot help but rave about it once more. Every word on the page has been thoroughly thought out, so vividly described that I feel as if I am part of the story. Phillip Pullman truly had his muse with him when he wrote this book, for he maps out and describes not just one world in this story, but many. As his main protagonists go from world to world, he describes the places they visit with clarity, creativity, and an honesty that almost makes me believe that it actually exists. The entire book is laced with a sort of mysticized frenzy, as if there is a ticking time bomb somewhere that everyone forgot to mention. This is why I could not put this book down the first time I read it, and I could not put it down the 15th time I read it, either. I love this book, because it gives me the power to dream the impossible. I hope you love, or will love, the story of Lyra and Will as much as I do.
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Product Details

Cover artist:
Ericka Meltzer O'Rourke
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pullman, Philip
New York
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - Fantasy
Fantasy & Magic
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
fantasy;fiction;young adult;religion;his dark materials;ya;children s;science fiction;adventure;novel;children;magic;trilogy;steampunk;children s literature;alternate universe;british;angels;children s fiction;coming of age;england;parallel worlds;alterna
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
Edition Number:
1st trade paper ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
His dark materials, 3
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
September 10, 2002
Grade Level:
from 7
8.35 x 5.5 x 1.21 in 0.9 lb
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

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Young Adult » General

The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials, Book III Used Trade Paper
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$6.50 In Stock
Product details 544 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780375823350 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[S]atisfies deeply: full of grand set pieces, resplendent language, and glorious storytelling....[A] brilliant and vivid canvas....There are roaring battles and moments of great tenderness; there are unforgettable scenes....Readers will be chastened — and warmed — and sorry to see the last page."
"Review" by , "Absorbing....Like Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling, [Pullman] invents a world filled with strange divinations and wordplays."
"Review" by , "Impossible to put down, so firmly and relentlessly does Pullman draw you into his tale....[A] gripping saga pitting the magnetic young Lyra Belacqua and her friend Will Parry against the forces of both Heaven and Hell."
"Review" by , "Pullman places himself in a tradition of serious symbol makers....[W]hile Pullman may have become caught up in adult theology — and while he has won more grown-up readers with each Dark Materials book — he keeps the swooping plots and passionate characters that make his earlier books so appealing to young readers....[The Amber Spyglass] is nearly as satisfying as the first two [books in the trilogy]....Pullman has mustered a spectacular array of forces in a three-sided battle for control over the universe of universes....He shuts doors and ties up loose ends in a way that feels, for the first time, slightly artificial. Still, that's a very minor flaw in what stands with The Lord of the Rings as one of the most resonant fantasies of our time."
"Review" by , "Philip Pullman is a writer I very much admire. I think he can write most adult authors off the page....I think he's amazing."
"Review" by , "In concluding the spellbinding His Dark Materials trilogy, Pullman produces what may well be the most controversial children's book of recent years....Stirring and highly provocative."
"Review" by , "The book rollicks and careers with the narrative gale force we've come to expect. Philip Pullman achieves effects that rival the best accomplishments of the earlier books. In any given chapter Pullman offers more sensuous description and narrative brio than are found in most entire novels."
"Synopsis" by , “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

From the Hardcover edition.

"Synopsis" by , We are releasing an updated trade-paper box set of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy with eye-catching new art from Cliff Nielsen. With glowing special effects, the new trade paperback editions will stand out on the shelves among other YA bestsellers and draw in new Pullman fans.

Published in 50 countries with over 22 million copies sold, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass are renowned for their engrossing storytelling and epic scope. These modern classics are must-reads for every book lover.

His Dark Materials is the story of Lyra and Will, two ordinary children with extraordinary roles to play in a more-than-mortal battle that will impact all the worlds.

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