Attention all serious book collectors and fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials
. This undoubtedly beautiful package, cloth-bound in a classy red and adorned by numerous illustrations by master engraver and illustrator John Lawrence, is sure to be a must-purchase. A pint-sized pocket volume, Lyra's Oxford
packages together a short story set in the same universe as his famous trilogy, a fold-out map of the alternate-reality city of Oxford which Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon inhabit, a short brochure for a cruise to The Levant aboard the SS Zenobia and a postcard from the inventor of the amber spyglass, Mary Malone. Pullman, in his introduction, suggests that the peripheral items within "might be connected with the story, or they might not; they might be connected to stories that haven't appeared yet. It's difficult to tell."
The story, "Lyra and the Birds", begins when Lyra and Pantalaimon spot a witch's daemon called Ragi being pursued over the rooftops of Oxford by a frenzied pack of birds. The daemon heads straight for Lyra and is given shelter. The creature was given Lyra's name as somebody who might help. The daemon is seeking one Sebastian Makepeace--an alchemist living in a part of Oxford known as Jericho. Together Lyra and Pan try to guide the daemon to the home of this man, but it is a journey fraught with more danger than they had at first anticipated.
Somehow, this is a book that puzzles and fascinates all at the same time. It's very sumptuous and lovingly crafted but tantalising brief. The fourth volume in Pullman's award-winning sequence is The Book of Dust and despite the author's reputation for taking his time in writing each of his longer works, it is now just too far away in the future to be funny anymore. (Age 10 and over)--John McLay
--This text refers to the
"It is one of those grand narrative strokes that Pullman can sometimes pull off with such casual looking ease and faith. This book is that gift in miniature" (John Ezard Guardian
"Grippingly funny and infused with the vitality of a master storyteller" (Amanda Craig The Times
"Beautifully written . . . a welcome chance to revisit Lyra that many young readers will savour" (School Librarian
"Exquisitely produced . . . Truly a collector's piece, this is a must" (The Good Book Guide
"This is a book for all Pullman readers and is sufficiently intriguing to entice new readers into Lyra's world" (Child Education