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His Dark Materials Yearling 3-book Boxed Set (His Dark Materials (Paperback)) Paperback – Box set, May 27, 2003
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About the Author
PHILIP PULLMAN is one of the most acclaimed writers working today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass), which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. He has also 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) 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.
It has recently been announced that The Book of Dust, the much anticipated new book from Mr. Pullman, also set in the world of His Dark Materials, will be published as a major work in three parts, with the first part to arrive in October 2017.
Philip Pullman is the author of many other much-lauded novels. Other volumes related to His Dark Materials: Lyra’s Oxford, Once Upon a Time in the North, and The Collectors. 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.
Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England. To learn more, please visit philip-pullman.com and hisdarkmaterials.com. Or follow him on Twitter at @PhilipPullman.
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★★★★★ Endless number of stars
His Dark Materials is a sweeping epic that tells of a story bigger than you can imagine, but it’s also a story told through the smallest characters – a story of a world, the fate of which lies in the hands of children. In a way, it’s all about the fight between good and evil, wisdom and darkness, but not in your usual fantasy sense. This is more philosophical than you might have expected it to be, but it’s also so imaginative, so full of adventure and unbelievable details, that you’ll never get bogged down with any of the philosophy. It’s a series that you can eat through a week – no matter how long the books actually are. You won’t sleep, if you have to.
Don’t You Just Wish Your Cat Was Your Daemon??
Daemons are talking animals that are… curiously, they’re part of you. They’re kind of your spirit animal, which also makes up part of your soul. It’s incredibly interesting, cute, and it goes so well with the story! You can talk to it, it will help you and defend you, and even if you’re utterly and completely alone, it will be your companion. It’s likely that by the end of the series, you will find yourself trying to figure out what your daemon would look like. Or maybe even does look like. (more on why I say that – in the actual book!)
There Are Wonders And Mysteries
Obviously, it wouldn’t be cool if I just gave it away to you, now would it. But let me just tell you that there are worlds to explore. That there are reasons the entire world is falling, and you need to find them out. And the reasons are all pretty grand as well. It’s not your typical overused YA tropes either, for example – oh, this or that super power has just decided to thwart the main character and their family, and you need a special snowflake to fix it. No, it’s far better than that! That said, the main character (who is a little girl) IS special, and she’s IS key to the saving of the world, but she’s no special snowflake. We’re getting to that in the next point.
The Characters Have Flaws, They’re Not Perfect
Having imperfect characters is great! Especially so, because it prevents the aforementioned ‘special snowflake’ syndrome. The main female character, Lyra, is as flawed as can be – she lies, she’s not loyal, she’s subject to other people’s manipulation. She is also ridiculously dramatic, and it’s maintained throughout the entire series in the way she talks (I specifically loved that!). The main male character Will is also a great character. He’s strong willed and he’s trustable, but he can also be ruthless, hard and cold. Both of them symbolize many things, but typical special snowflakes they are not. As for symbolizing? We get to point 4…
This story has layers upon layers of symbolism, mostly to do with mythologies, or namely – Christian mythologies, exposing them quite ruthlessly at times. This is magical and super interesting, merging religious symbolism with scientific fantasy (is that.. a thing, scientific fantasy..?), and weaving together a magical build of the world, of the universe. I will not tell you what the main characters (and many others) symbolize, because that would take away from your pleasure of discovering it yourself. However, if you are religious (not only Christian, basically, any religion that is based on a single deity) – be warned, as this book might seem controversial to you. It’s not kind to organized religion. You need an open mind to read it. If you are religious, and still really want to read it (which you should!), I suggest remembering that this is just fiction and it’s an invented world.
This series ends with a bad case of the feels. As bad as it gets. But it’s also the kind of feels you want in a book! Basically, the kind of feels we all read books for. But please, prepare napkins.
I have my master's in theology and religion, and while that doesn't make me an authority or expert, Philip Pullman's analysis of the fundamental problem of organized religion is troubling the way that we're troubled when we realize our parents are human beings and flawed. A truth we spent a lot of mental time and energy ignoring, that might hurt when we stop ignoring it, but ultimately our lives are better for accepting. Within the context of the narrative, and extended to our world in some cases, what Pullman's characters do, what they must do, makes sense. It is the right choice. All I'm saying is, don't let the hype (even if it's died down) turn you away. It can be as fictitious as you want it to be, but it doesn't change the fact that the books are amazing fantasy.
I also bought the audiobooks from audible, and I loved the full cast. My only complaint is that because the audiobooks and the omnibus aren't the same products Whispersync doesn't work. So each time I had to switch between the two I had to spend a few minutes flipping through the files to find where'd I'd left off. A small annoyance that did not detract from this book.