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
'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
Synopses & Reviews
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
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.
"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." J.K. Rowling
"Pullman is a remarkable writer and his trilogy seems destined to become a classic." The Detroit Free Press
"[T]he most magnificent fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings...puts Harry Potter to shame. Pullman has created characters and worlds that combine epic scale with deep intention and has given those worlds a fulfillment that secures their place as a literary masterpiece." Pat Jeffries, The Oregonian
"Astounding....Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century." The Cincinnati Enquirer
Philip Pullman's bestselling trilogy now in a paperback set!
With stunning, newly repackaged covers, this boxed set contains the three His Dark Materials novels that captured fantasy lovers' imaginations: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. The third book even features chapter-opening quotes (from the likes of Milton, Donne, Blake, Byron, and the Bible) which did not appear in hardcover.
About the Author
Philip Pullman is the author of many other books for children and young adults, including a trilogy of Victorian thrillers featuring Sally Lockhart: The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, and The Tiger in the Well; and a related volume, The Tin Princess. A graduate of Oxford University with a degree in English, Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England.