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.
These Yearling paperback editions each contain bonus material: the found papers, notes, and other archival material of Lord Asriel, Dr. Stanislaus Grumman, and Mary Malone. They also feature chapter-opening artwork by Philip Pullman.
"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
The three novels that make up the His Dark Materials trilogy are available in this boxed paperback set. Includes "The Subtle Knife, The Golden Compass, " and "The Amber Spyglass."
About the Author
Philip Pullman has won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for The Golden Compass
(and the reader-voted "Carnegie of Carnegies" for the best children's book of the past seventy years); the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award for The Amber Spyglass
; a Booker Prize long-list nomination (The Amber Spyglass
); Parents' Choice Gold Awards (The Subtle Knife
and The Amber Spyglass
); and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in honor of his body of work. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Philip Pullman is the author of many books for young readers, including two volumes related to the His Dark Materials trilogy: Lyra's Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North. He lives in Oxford, England. To learn more, please visit www.philip-pullman.com and www.hisdarkmaterials.com.