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The Subtle Knife

by

The Subtle Knife 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?

Product Details

ISBN:
9780440418337
Author:
Pullman, Philip
Publisher:
Yearling Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Action & Adventure
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - Fantasy
Subject:
Arctic regions
Subject:
Kidnapping
Subject:
Missing persons
Subject:
Fantasy fiction, English
Subject:
Action & Adventure - General
Subject:
Fantasy
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Children s-Adventure Stories
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
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Series:
His Dark Materials (Paperback)
Series Volume:
02
Publication Date:
20010531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 5
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
560
Dimensions:
7.63x5.24x.90 in. .51 lbs.
Age Level:
12-17

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Related Subjects

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» Children's » Middle Readers » General
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» Young Adult » General

The Subtle Knife Used Trade Paper
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$4.95 In Stock
Product details 560 pages Yearling Books - English 9780440418337 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In this stunning sequel to The Golden Compass, the intrepid Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld—Cittagazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.

On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will uncover a deadly secret: an object of extraordinary and devastating power. And with every step, they move closer to an even greater threat--and the shattering truth of their own destiny.

This Yearling paperback edition contains 17 pages of bonus material: the secret letters and notes of Dr. Stanislaus Grumman. It also features chapter-opening artwork by Philip Pullman.

"Synopsis" by , Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed The Golden Compass. Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of Cittàgazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably entwined when Lyra's alethiometer gives her a simple command: find Will's father. Their search is plagued with obstacles—some familiar and some horribly new and unfathomable—but it eventually brings them closer to Will's father and to the Subtle Knife, a deadly, magical, ancient tool that cuts windows between worlds. Through it all, Will and Lyra find themselves hurtling toward the center of a fierce battle against a force so awesome that leagues of mortals, witches, beasts, and spirits from every world are uniting in fear and anger against it. This breathtaking sequel will leave readers eager for the third and final volume of His Dark Materials.
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