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The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials Paperback – May 22, 2001
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"More than fulfilling the promise of The Golden Compass, this second volume starts off at a heart-thumping pace and never slows down....The grandly exuberant storytelling is sure to enthrall."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"The intricacy of the plot is staggering...There is no doubt that the work is stunningly ambitious, original, and fascinating."--The Horn Book (starred review)
"The character development as well as the relentless pace...make this a resoundingly successful sequel...it will leave readers desperate for the next installment."--Booklist (starred review)
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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Not so with The Subtle Knife. While The Golden Compass introduced us to a fascinating alternate world with many imaginative characters, Mr. Pullman's bag of tricks is by no means exhausted. In this second book, we learn there are an infinite number of parallel worlds, including our own. He introduces us to many more creative characters, like the spectral beings that eat people's souls and the various levels of good and bad angels. And all of these are connected by a common thread, though known by different names in each world--the mysterious dust, dark matter etc., the source of what makes us who we are.
In addition to the flawed but charming Lyra, we get a second protagonist, Will, a troubled boy from our own world. Together they go on a more complex quest, during which their relationship is deepened by their shared trials and personal tragedies.
This book is richer in plot than the first, more multi-layered and probably better written.(I'm still not a fan of his omniscient, head hopping style, but he has some beautiful turns of a phrase).
All and all, it's a better book than the first, which tended to be more of a children's fantasy (Gyptians and armored bears and witches, oh my!). It is, however, much darker, moving further from what anyone would call a children's book. Yes, it can be read on multiple levels, but The Wizard of OZ, it ain't.
It's difficult to review this trilogy without commenting on the often discussed controversy about Mr. Pullman's anti-religious views. I was led to expect the opposite of C.S. Lewis' Space trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Peralandra, That Hideous Strength), which devolved from a darn good space travel story to an outright religious diatribe. I keep looking for that aspect to rear its ugly head. Though I take no position on his point of view, I'm deeply offended by a writer who is so self-righteous that he spoils a good story by sticking a soap box smack in the middle, climbing upon it and preaching. I have to say there was no sign of this in The Subtle Knife.
The Subtle Knife is an ambitious, imaginative and refreshingly original story that I thoroughly enjoyed.
This is the best book of the Trilogy, but you gotta read #1 to understand the plot, and your gotta read #3 to see how it all turns out.
Lyra and Will, both about 12 years old, seek to find and fulfill their role in the war against the "Authority". Thay have supporters in their struggles: armored bears, allied witches and angels, and an intrepid balloonist, among others, but they battle against a hoard of antagonists including adults, witches and angels who support the "Authority", soul-eating specters, and their own fears and insecurities.
The book is well written and beautifully produced in the audio version. The voices are clearly differentiated, so there is no question about who is talking; the voices fit the characters; and they are the same voices throughout the 3 book series - no confusion there.
If you like the dark side of fantasy, I recommend the entire series. If you try to jump in with this book, you will be sorely confused.
Most recent customer reviews
‘I suppose I better try not to seem frightened, then’ Will said.Read more