Book reviews - 2021

Another year, another list..

Score (out of 10)
First book in the Dark Materials trilogy, re-reading it after some considerable time, and as a result of the (truly excellent) second series of the BBC television series having just finished. The re-read reminds me why I am in awe of Pullman's genius as a storyteller - he is right up there with Tolkien, Lewis and JK as far as I am concerned for his imaginative powers, and his ability to pull an entire alternative universe from his head...  so in this book we are first introduced to Lyra, the foundling child living with the scholars at Oxford university and we begin to discover her start in life, her parents (no spoilers for those that haven't read the books) and the alternative England that she lives in where people soul's are external to their body and in animal/bird form. This book deals almost solely with the search for "dust" a mystical substance that surrounds everyone and everything, but is not viewable under normal vision. It also introduces us to the Magisterium, a church like total authority that brings to mind the Catholic Church of the Inquisition period crossed with the 3rd Reich (!). Bring in armoured bears, witches, cliff ghasts, and an aeronaut with his own balloon facing off against gas engined airships and this is an awesome book..  my first 10+ of the year
Straight into the second book - Lyra's battle against the Authority continues and she gains an ally in the form of Will, a troubled young man from our world, who discovers an opening into a city in another world - this city is haunted by spectres that feed off the souls of any adults so the sole remaining inhabitants are children. They then discover about the knife after Lyra's alethiometer is stolen while visiting Will's world. For its return they are told to steal the knife..  when they do that however they discover that the knife has phenomenal power and strength - not the least being the ability to cut windows between worlds..  no plot spoilers, but the book ends with Lyra and Will about to enter the world of the dead in search of Will's father, and Lyra's long lost friend. an ABSOLUTE page turner...
With Will and Lyra searching the world of the dead, at the same time Asriels war against the authority has kicked off with both sides gathering allies in all the thousands and millions of coexistent worlds. The Magisterium send an assassin after Lyra, but they survive to provide critical assistance to Asriel in the final battle. Meanwhile, a character we first met in the second book (Mary Malone - a researcher at the Oxford University of our world) also finds a window, and arrives in the world of the Mulefa (a kind of tapir/elephant cross that move around on wheels made from seed pods - and I can't wait to see how the BBC show that!) and there discovers the Amber spyglass which allows her to see dust for the first time, and an ecological disaster in the making. Stunning...
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