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His Dark Materials Trilogy: Northern Lights, Subtle Knife, Amber Spyglass Paperback – 3 Nov 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; new paperback edition edition (3 Nov 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1407109421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407109428
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 5.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (453 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on 19th October 1946. The early part of his life was spent travelling all over the world, because his father and then his stepfather were both in the Royal Air Force. He spent part of his childhood in Australia, where he first met the wonders of comics, and grew to love Superman and Batman in particular. From the age of 11, he lived in North Wales, having moved back to Britain. It was a time when children were allowed to roam anywhere, to play in the streets, to wander over the hills, and he took full advantage of it. His English teacher, Miss Enid Jones, was a big influence on him, and he still sends her copies of his books.

After he left school he went to Exeter College, Oxford, to read English. He did a number of odd jobs for a while, and then moved back to Oxford to become a teacher. He taught at various middle schools for twelve years, and then moved to Westminster College, Oxford, to be a part-time lecturer. He taught courses on the Victorian novel and on the folk tale, and also a course examining how words and pictures fit together. He eventually left teaching in order to write full-time.

His first published novel was for adults, but he began writing for children when he was a teacher. Some of his novels were based on plays he wrote for his school pupils, such as The Ruby In The Smoke. He is best known for the award winning His Dark Materials series, consisting of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Product Description

Amazon Review

The Northern Lights
Lyra's life is already sufficiently interesting for a novel before she eavesdrops on a presentation by her uncle Lord Asriel to his colleagues in the Jordan College faculty, Oxford. The college, famed for its leadership in experimental theology, is funding Lord Asriel's research into the heretical possibility of the existence of worlds unlike Lyra's own, where everyone is born with a familiar animal companion, magic of a kind works, the Tartars are threatening to overrun Muscovy, and the Pope is a puritanical Protestant. Set in an England familiar and strange, Philip Pullman's lively, taut story is a must-read and re-read for fantasy lovers of all ages. The world-building is outstanding, from the subtle hints of the 1898 Tokay to odd quirks of language to the panserbjorne, while determined, clever Lyra is strongly reminiscent of Joan Aiken's Dido Twite.

The Subtle Knife
At the end of The Northern Lights, Lyra Silvertongue watched in fear and fascination as her father, Lord Asriel, created a bridge between worlds. Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon, are now lost in an alternate universe where they meet Will Parry, a fugitive from a third universe. Will has found a small window between Cittagazze (a place where children roam unchecked but invisible Specters suck the spirit out of adults) and his Oxford, which, with its Burger Kings and cars, is frighteningly different from the Oxford Lyra knows. Will's father, an explorer, disappeared years ago, but recently some odd characters have started asking questions about him, and now, having accidentally killed one of them, Will is wanted by the police. Armed with The Subtle Knife, a tool that cuts any material (including that which separates universes) and Lyra's alethiometer, the children set out to find John Parry, with adults of various stripes in desperate pursuit. Lyra's finest qualities--her courage and quick mind--are stretched to the limit as she has to lie, cheat and steal to keep herself and Will out of danger. However, she must also learn when to tell the truth and when to trust, for though she does not yet know it, she has a huge part to play in the upcoming battle between Good and Evil.

The Amber Spyglass
Philip Pullman began the spellbinding His Dark Materials sequence with The Northern Lights, which dazzled everyone who read it, children and adults alike. Remarkably, he kept up the quality in The Subtle Knife, the second title in the trilogy. Here he brings the series to an extraordinary conclusion. Will and Lyra, the two children at the heart of the books, have become separated amid great dangers. Can they find each other, and their friends? Then complete their mysterious quest before it is too late? The great rebellion against the dark powers that hold Lyra's world in thrall (and many others) is nearing its climax. She and Will have crucial parts to play, but they don't know what it is that they must do, and terrible powers are hunting them down.

The pace of the book is compelling, the writing powerful. Pullman's plotting is intricate and cunning, surprising the reader again and again. In this volume the cosmic dimensions of the story become more prominent, as a great conflict across many universes comes to a head. The author's beliefs also come more into the open. Perhaps what is most striking of all, however, is the depth of the characterisation. Lord Asriel, Mrs Coulter, Iorek Byrnison the king of the armoured bears, a host of minor characters, most of all Will and Lyra themselves: the book is a library of beautifully drawn, remarkably convincing characters walking in worlds of marvels. Philip Pullman's writing commands immense respect; more than that, it is raising the profile of the best children's books among adults, as demanding critics of all ages fall in love with this remarkable trilogy. --David Pickering --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"One of the supreme literary dreamers and magicians of our time" (The Guardian)

"Philip Pullman. Is he the best storyteller ever?" (The Observer) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Robbie Swale VINE VOICE on 1 Feb 2008
Format: Hardcover
Philip Pullman's trilogy is a spectacular achievement, and you only have to look at the hundreds of reviews around the Internet to get a flavour of the positive feeling towards these stories. From my point of view, they are probably the best stories I have ever read, and fill your mind with the most amazing pictures, the most intense emotions and the most spectacular twists and turns you are ever likely to come across.

This edition is a three-in-one hard back, which could easily sit on your shelf alongside Lord of the Rings. It's a re-issue of the edition I own (which has a black cover, not the blue one shown in this picture), and I must admit that my romanticism leaves me really liking big, hard back books. This volume wouldn't be out of place on a story-teller's knee in front of a fire, and is a lovely way of giving someone these wonderful stories.

Also, it puts the books together as one story which, in all honesty, is what they are. One long, brilliant story.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By bernie VINE VOICE on 15 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
Someone once described "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman as she gets caught, she escapes, she gets caught again, she escapes again, then she gets caught, then she escapes. This may be true but the real substance of the epic is the how and why.

It is the "how" that holds the story together. We are intrigued with Lyra's ability to plan and lie her way out of trouble. Eventually it is the truth that sets her free.

The "why" she is being sought and the "why" she must go on brings us many conundrums that we not only face in the tale but also in our real life.

Lyra must fulfill a prophecy; however if she becomes aware of her destiny, that destiny may never happen. For those readers who have read Josef Campbell you will recognize the classic Hero's Journey where a person coming of age must sacrifice the apron strings and face the challenge of adulthood. This includes going into a dark place and confronting an unknown which usually is ones own fears and ego. From there they are reborn to become a fully functional person in society.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that this is a fun read.
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200 of 210 people found the following review helpful By D. O'Brien VINE VOICE on 2 Aug 2002
Format: Paperback
In Philip Pullman's epic His Dark Materials trilogy, the author presents us with alternate worlds, strange characters, corrupt theology, and theoretical physics, all woven together into a gripping whole.
For those readers who have completed the Harry Potter books, and are looking for something of the same kind (as I was when I began reading this trilogy), I'd advise you to drop any pre-conceived notions about how 'young adult' fiction is written - these books have bite. Main characters are subject to questionable morals, the plots are trully labrynthine, the whole Christian notion of the nature of the Universe is picked apart almost in disgust, and characters that you find yourself caring about do die.
To compare this trilogy to Harry Potter (which I enjoyed) is to compare wine to fruit juice.
As the author himself admits, the three books are really all one book, in much the same way as The Lord Of The Rings. I defy anyone to read the first story and not want to immediately start on the second, then the third.
The tale focuses on a girl called Lyra, raised as an orphan, but with a great destiny. Her adventures begin with a struggle against the all-powerful Christian church in her world, which is parallel to our own, but with many subtle differences.
This struggle leads to a greater one, and a greater one, until her final destiny is revealed - one that has implications for all the parallel worlds in the Universe.
Bringing together cosmology, physics, and christian theology, the trilogy presents a unified theory of the Universe, one in which even God himself may not be everything he seems (please be aware from the outset that Christians may find many of the aspects of this Universal theory uncomfortable, but also remember, it's only a story).
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "jjeherrera" on 27 Aug 2003
Format: Paperback
There are two major results in modern Cosmology: First, we can only observe about 90% of the Universe. The rest is dark matter, still unaccounted for. Second, theories predict that, just as our Solar System is not the only in our Galaxy, and our Galaxy is not the only one in the Universe, there can also be other Universes, inaccessible to us. Philip Pullman uses these results as the basis for his Trilogy “His Dark Materials”. Starting in a parallel World, or Universe, in a parallel Oxford, Lyra Belaqua, an 11 year old girl gets into fantastic adventures. These are related to the existence of a certain Dust, which is dark matter, which no one can see, except under very special circumstances. The “Church” of her world keeps the existence of Dust secret, and those who talk about it are considered heretics. This is the basis for a struggle, which deals not so much with good vs. evil, as in usual children’s stories, but with wisdom and consciousness vs. ignorance and stupidity. The plot thickens throughout the three books, introducing a major character in the second book; Will Parry, slightly older than Lyra, who comes from our own world, and who will team up with Lyra in her future adventures, both of them looking for persons they have lost, and which they care about dearly. Along the story, several interesting characters are introduced; inhabitants from several different worlds. Some of them familiar in Western mythology, such as angels, witches and spectres, as well as new ones which come out of Pulman’s imagination. In his plot, he dares to explore daring ideas about organised religion, particularly Christianism and Catholisism, that he extends to question the very existence of God, and that religious people will find outright heretical.Read more ›
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