- Series: The Book of Dust (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 656 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 3, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553510665
- ISBN-13: 978-0553510669
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, Volume 2) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 3, 2019
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From the Publisher
|His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (Book 1)||His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife (Book 2)||His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass (Book 3)||The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Volume 1)||The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth (Volume 2)|
|Enter the world of His Dark Materials||The modern fantasy classic soon to be an HBO original series – HIS DARK MATERIALS!||The second book in the HIS DARK MATERIALS series – soon to be an HBO original series!||The third book in the HIS DARK MATERIALS series – soon to be an HBO original series!||Set in the same world as HIS DARK MATERIALS - meet Lyra before the events of The Golden Compass!||Set in the same world as HIS DARK MATERIALS - discover what happened to Lyra after The Amber Spyglass!|
“The Secret Commonwealth is a majestic return to Lyra’s next chapter with all the magic, folklore, and fantasy only Philip Pullman can provide.” –Hypable
“A big novel full of big ideas, big characters and big sorrows. . . This book feels like a response to the darkness of our time.”—NPR
“Pullman’s best novel so far. A work of extraordinary depth and humanity.” —The Observer
“As always, Pullman’s writing is simple, unpretentious, beautiful, true. . . . the conclusion to the Book of Dust can’t come soon enough.” —The Washington Post
“The novel gallops forward, full of danger, delight and surprise. Pullman is a staggeringly gifted storyteller.” —New Statesman
“Mr. Pullman’s writing is clear, clean and forceful, never striving for effect and all the more effective because of it. He’s also a man of ideas, which gives great savor to his work.” – The Wall Street Journal
“Coming back to [Lyra] after all these years is such a profound pleasure that I can do nothing but sit back and watch her charge forward into the night, ready as she always was to remake the world in her own image.”—Vox
“The Secret Commonwealth reasserts Pullman’s affection for the wondrous and those pieces of reality which can be seen only by those willing to see.”—Newsweek
“These books, and the intellectual debate they produce, make Lyra’s world feel more lived-in than ever before.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Not only is it worthy second installment in The Book of Dust trilogy, it continues to prove this sequence will be every bit as excellent as His Dark Materials.” —Seattle Post-Intelligencer
About the Author
PHILIP PULLMAN is one of the most acclaimed writers working today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been named one of the top 100 books of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. Pullman was knighted for his services to literature in the 2019 New Years Honours.
The Book of Dust, Pullman’s eagerly anticipated return to the world of His Dark Materials, will also be a book in three parts. It began with La Belle Sauvage and continues with The Secret Commonwealth.
Philip Pullman is the author of many other beloved novels. For younger readers: I Was a Rat!, Count Karlstein, Two Crafty Criminals!, Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. For older readers: the Sally Lockhart quartet (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess), The White Mercedes, and The Broken Bridge. He has written a magnificent collection, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and his essays and lectures on writing and storytelling have been gathered in a volume called Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling.
Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England.
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I wish, however, that I had waited to buy this second volume of it. The first, Belle Sauvage, is a stand-alone book. This one is an installment -- it ends with the most blatant cliffhanger I've encountered yet.
If the third book of the trilogy existed, I would have just bought it and been happy. But it doesn't, and I can't even pre-order it. Just sayin' -- you might want to wait to buy this one til its other half is published.
I'm almost finished with "The Secret Commonwealth," and I have mixed feelings about this one. On the positive side: It is better than "La Belle Sauvage" and it returns more to the original template of the "Dark Materials" triology. It's a pleasure to return to some of the original characters.
On the more negative or "mixed" side: This book does not have the mythic sweep of the original trilogy, which kept me always engaged in terms of its metaphysical revelations and plot twists. There is nothing in the current book that comes up to the original trilogy's ties to the story of "the fall" in the Old Testament. The characters in the current book seem more "black and white" to me than many of the central characters in "Dark Materials." Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter were always fascinating and magnetic, if sometimes (often?) despicable, and there were many subtleties in their portrayals. Indeed, they seemed to be "demi-gods" in some respects. There are no characters that come close to this kind of complexity and subtlety in the current book.
Also, "The Secret Commonwealth" often seems, to me, to have a "Perils of Pauline" quality to it: The characters move from crisis to crisis, and from one kind of extreme peril to another, with little cohesive plot narrative holding it all together. It's more action for the sake of action. The book seems more "plot driven" than character or concept driven. Apropos of this, I learned very little new about the nature of "Dust" in reading this book. However, I certainly did when I read "His Dark Materials."
The plot of "The Secret Commonwealth" seems much more driven by coincidence and happenstance than that of the "Dark Materials" trilogy. (I know, this shows the influence of "the secret commonwealth," but at some point the continual coincidental occurrences strain credulity. I know this is a fantasy work, but in "Dark Materials" the world depicted seemed more coherent and the "magic" had a kind of internal consistency to it.)
Some of the characters seem just too good and too astute to be true. For example, in the course of his adventures and battles, Malcolm seems just too able to instantly grasp situations, see subtle nonverbal cues in others, and perceive "exits" from almost impossibly difficult situations. Alison Wetherfield also seemed "too good to be true." Pullman tells us she will return in his final book. It seemed clear to me from her first appearance that there was "more to her" than was being revealed at the time.
Some of the scenes simply didn't have a kind of psychological reality to me. For example, when Lyra visited the elderly princess in her mansion, it would make sense to me that the princess would offer Lyra a night's lodging, and not just send her on her dusty, dreary way. Also, the way some characters were able to "talk down" violent situations (as in the meeting of rose growers that was attacked by the "mountain men") seemed unrealistic to me. And Lyra just blabbed too much to absolute strangers. In my mind, for all its wild and exotic fantasy, the "Dark Materials" trilogy was characterized by a kind of rigorous psychological reality.
There's much more violence in "Secret Commonwealth" than in "Dark Materials." Just an observation. I know Pullman says this is a darker story for a Lyra who is now an adult.
Finally, the attempt to relate the plot to current events (e.g., the current refugee crisis in the Middle East and Europe) seems mixed in its effectiveness, to me.
And finally, finally: God was killed at the end of the "Dark Materials." But I guess he's never really killed, is he? The Magesterium just keeps making comebacks.
If the "Dark Materials" was Lyra's quest through the frigid north of (some) adults' and adult institutions' cruelty, then "Secret Commonwealth" is her trek through the parched desert of the soul (or lack of soul).
Philip Pullman is a treasure for generations
But this is still Pullman's dark world of fantasy, where people have daemons bound to them by a kind of magic. The church is a dark and powerful force, whose physical basis is a mystery called Dust, which everyone seeks to understand. You will meet people you know from /His Dark Materials/ and /La Belle Sauvage/.
The book ends on a cliffhanger -- it leads Lyra into deep trouble, and stops there. We will have to wait for the third installment to see how (if?) she gets out.
I will gladly read anything Phillip Pullman writes.