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Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 2 pages
  • Publisher: RHCP Audio (3 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846577098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846577093
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.4 x 12.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 970,708 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

Bonus content inside the book

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Exuberant, intelligent fun . . . Once again Pullman has created a work of art that is enchanting for a child but equally appealing to an adult" (Amanda Craig The Times)

"Tantalisingly short, irresistibly snappy and full of dangerous derring-do" (Independent)

"This is a real treat, and easily one of the publishing hightlights of the year that will be devoured by fans old and new" (The Bookseller)

"Small and elegant, the book is exquisitely illustrated with woodcuts by John Lawrence and rounded off with bits of memorabilia including a newspaper clipping giving a different spin on events plus a board game. Fast and powerful, this is an exciting read" (Anne Faundez Carousel)

"A short, simple, elegant story . . . cloth-bound, with enhancing woodcuts by master-engraver John Lawrence" (Claudia Fitzherbert Spectator) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Let's get this straight. The His Dark Materials trilogy is one of the best things in literature and wipes the floor with Harry Potter (much as I enjoy them). This is the second in a series of spin off books which are short stories using the original characters. The first, Lyra's Oxford deals with the heroine, Lyra Silvertongue. The second, this book, deals with a prequel in which we find out how the aeronaut Lee Scoresby and the bear king, Iorek Byrnison first meet each other.

The writing is crisp, dark and funny/sad, just as in the original books and the woodcuts, the game and all the additional letters etc, make this cloth bound, pocket sized book a thing of great beauty and a needful addition to any bookshelf. The characterisation is excellent, and these are two of the best characters in the trilogy to meet again.

So, why disappointing? Because it is too short. Because there has been nothing in the way of a real meaty adventure issuing forth from Pullman's pen for too long, and because I'm greedy and I want more. Pull your finger out Philip, there's a dear.
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177 of 187 people found the following review helpful By ds VINE VOICE on 2 April 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First things first, let's get the rating out of the way. I give this book four stars simply because it isn't long enough. And I was a little disappointed when I'd finished it because I just didn't want it to stop. Perhaps that's a sign of how good the book actually is.

But to take off that star, one has to consider the reasons why it deserved the full five in the first place. The title should give things away just a little; this is essentially a western short story. And a rollicking good one too, because this is the tale of how Lee Scoresby the aeronaut and the bear Iorek Byrnison first met. The events take place a full thirty-five years before the climax of His Dark Materials Boxed set (His Dark Materials), when Lee is but a young man of 24 and newly introduced to the balloon he has recently won in a poker game. As a result his flying is best described as inexpert.

So it is that Lee (and his daemon Hester) arrive in the town of Novy Odense and become involved in a stand-off between a put-upon sailor named van Berda and the power of corporate privilege. After meeting a shady figure from his past, Lee decides he must choose a side, which is how he comes across Iorek.

As you'd expect from something written by Pullman, the story reads with an effortless grace and is beautifully and finely observed and constructed. The extras, like Lyra's Oxford before it are in turn intriguing and useful, including documents and artefacts connected to the narrative itself, as well as a board game, 'Peril At The Pole'.

The last couple of pages are especially curious and relate to Lyra and her correspondence with a minor character from book one.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Voltaire on 22 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
Those that have read Pullman's trilogy will find this book an interesting expansion upon the character of Lee Scoresby; how he became an aeronaut and how he met Iorek Byrinson. It is the size of a child's storybook, perhaps two chapters' worth of a normal novel - so you will finish this within a couple of hours. As a stand-alone novel I wasn't left satisfied: it would be better included as an appendix text or supplement to a reprint of the trilogy. It's also very expensive in the shops for what you're getting - the price here is more realistic. Nevertheless, a nice supplement for collectors and fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By le chic le freak on 9 July 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a huge fan of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, I am quite prepared to read anything else from that universe he is kind enough to write for us. Once Upon A Time In The North is no exception - of course I'd have liked it to be longer, but then I could read these characters forever and never be bored. It's quite obvious when you see the book that it's short, and it doesn't get longer simply because you're enjoying it! I often think, however, that short stories are more difficult to write than novels, and I appreciate the hard work and talent that has gone into producing such a lovely little book.

The hard cover, the beautiful illustrations, the wonderful boardgame tucked away inside the back cover... this all enhances the work, and also it's the way more books should be produced, with obvious care and attention. It's a book you could keep forever and pass down to children, grandchildren, and they would enjoy it as much as you did.

This is because Pullman's tales are timeless. They are full of adventure, fun, loyalty, friendship, intelligence - qualities that just don't date. The story here is no exception. It tells of the first meeting between Lee Scoresby, the Texan aeronaut (and one of my favourite trilogy characters!) and Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear. Pullman's gently descriptive writing coupled with the reader's imagination brings these two allies to life in ways films can't. I loved the Wild West theme and all of the motifs that go with it: the pretty girl, the gun-slinging showdown, and Hester (Lee's daemon) provides an excellent witty companion.

Yes, the story is short, but it's action-packed and interesting, and I would recommend it to anyone who has previously enjoyed the trilogy. If you're new to Philip Pullman, I'd read those novels first, but this stands alone in its own right as a great example of first-class writing.
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