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The Elements of "His Dark Materials": A Guide to Philip Pullman's Trilogy Paperback – 2 Mar 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The Fell Press; 1st Edition edition (2 Mar. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0975943014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0975943014
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,016,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

The Elements of "His Dark Materials" This illustrated, comprehensive, reader-friendly reference to Philip Pullman's brilliant His Dark Materials trilogy is packed with clues to the author's literary imagery and subtle allusions. It includes sections on topics as diverse as daemons, Navajos, storytelling, Oxford, and angels.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Giles on 16 Jan. 2007
Laurie Frost has written the book you may not even have known that you needed. When you've read all of His Dark Materials and you want more, you want this book. Frost has listed everything from the three volumes. She has produced maps of where things happened. She has also written short essays with her own theories about various aspects in the books. This is such a wonderful book. Pullman himself claims to use it for his own writing to save himself having to remember details he made up earlier. And for anyone who might want to know which Burger King Will visited when he arrived in Oxford, there's a suggestion for that too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Feb. 2011
Most fiction stands alone as a good read. Some make you think and some do not. However as with all the classics, many writers do not create characters and places out of whimsy.

There are so many hours in a day and it is not possible for the masses to be educated in every discipline needed to understand the deeper meaning of many of the symbols, places, and names involved in the stories we read. So we can use the help of books like "The Elements of His Dark Materials" by Laurie Frost to fill in the gaps and keep us focused on the original story. The book seems more massive than the book it is describing.

Even with books like "Annotated Alice" the philosophy is absent and another book "Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy" is needed to fill in the gaps. This book may not be the whole story but it is a great starting place.

From the Back Cover:
Spoiler Warning
Please be aware that the encyclopedic nature of this book makes spoilers inevitable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Resources should always be shiny. 25 Nov. 2007
By Heather E. Waddell - Published on Amazon.com
There's no better recommendation for a reference book than when the author of the original series states that he's using it to help him remember his own books. And this reference has just such a recommendation.

This is an awesome source, part concordance, part encyclopedia, part character guide. It's a great companion and helped me innumerable times when I was looking for an elusive quote. I also enjoyed seeing the differences between the US and UK versions of the books laid out. The information is presented in a concise and entertaining way, and it's as easy to simply flip open a page and read a bit for fun as it is to look up a specific character or concept.

Frost's attention to detail makes this a book that I will always be glad to own. (Plus, the cover is a shiny picture of the Northern Lights, which just makes it that much more attractive.)
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I was astounded 22 Jan. 2008
By Stephen Thoemmes - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
If Philip Pullman refers to this book, how can you go wrong? It is totally encyclopedic. A dense reference book that covers everything that you have remembered or may have forgotten. I keep referring to this tome though I am not currently re-reading the trilogy. The drawings, the cultural references (in the real world), the UK and US differences, this is a mind boggling work. I cannot imagine the effort put into this book. Laurie Frost has seemed, to me, to have exceeded all human limitations in documenting this masterwork.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
No Sraffie's library is complete without it! 1 Feb. 2013
By Kelly Garbato - Published on Amazon.com
When the author of the source material readily admits to using someone else's reference book to help write the sequel(s), you know it's got to be good! Laurie Frost's THE ELEMENTS OF HIS DARK MATERIALS: A GUIDE TO PHILIP PULLMAN'S TRILOGY is an epic encyclopedia worthy of this most epic of series. (It's my absolute favorite, in case you couldn't tell.) Exhaustively researched and referenced, ELEMENTS covers everything you want/need to know about HIS DARK MATERIALS.

The book is organized around eleven primary subjects, many of which are further divided into subsections (reproduced here since Amazon's listing doesn't include the table of contents):

I. Characters
* Cross-Reference of Characters

II. Places and Peoples
* The Words of the Worlds
* The Worlds
* Cities, Countries, Regions, Continents, and Elements of Topography
* Structures and Streets
* The Oxfords
* Peoples

III. Creatures, Beings and Extraordinary Humans

IV. The Alethiometer, the Subtle Knife, the Amber Spyglass
* The Alethiometer and associated entries
* The Subtle Knife and associated entries
* The Amber Spyglass and associated entries

V. Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology
* Multiple worlds, Prophecy, Stories
* Dust, Rusakov particles, Shadows/Shadow-particles, Sraf

VI. Applied Metaphysics

VII. Applied Sciences and Technology
* Clothing and Accessories
* Smokes and Medicines
* Food and Drink
* Information Technology
* Transportation
* Weapons
* Other Crafted Goods and Materials

VIII. The Natural Sciences
* Physical Sciences
* Animals
* Animals Exclusive to HIS DARK MATERIALS
* Plants
* Trees Exclusive to HIS DARK MATERIALS
* Scientific Studies

IX. Social Structures of the Worlds
* Ecclesiastical
* Educational
* Political, Military, and Others
* Juvenile Alliances
* Financial/Commerce

X. Languages and Diction

XI. Allusions
* Religious - Biblical and Otherwise

XII. Epigraphs
* Book Epigraphs
* Chapter Epigraphs

Reference
* Philip Pullman Bibliography
* HDM References
* Works Cited and Information Sources

(This TOC is from the 2006 US edition.)

Lyra and Will, Lord Asriel and Marisa Coulter, Baruch and Balthamos, Mary Malone and Atal the mulefa, Dust and daemons, Jordan College and Oxford - it's all here, in such depth and detail that you might just find yourself inspired to reread the trilogy for the umpteenth time.

Addictively entertaining, ELEMENTS is the rare reference book that's suitable for both serious research and casual reading. It has a permanent place in my bedside book pile, and I often find myself sneaking an entry or two before bed. Whether overcome with the sudden urge to brush up on a plot detail, or if I'm just killing some time by flipping it open to read a random entry, I rarely find myself disappointed. (I'd love for some of the entries to be a bit longer and more detailed - but then, like any good Sraffie, I can never get enough HDM!)

Though I'm no academic, it's also proven invaluable in planning my HDM-themed menu for the upcoming Vegan MoFo. During the Vegan Month of Food - usually held in October - bloggers pledge to write about vegan food every day for a month. Some bloggers choose a theme; in 2013, I'd like to feature foods inspired by HIS DARK MATERIALS. An ambitious project, that: with the exception of marzipan, food really isn't central to the plot of HIS DARK MATERIALS (unlike in THE HUNGER GAMES, for example) - and indeed, I had trouble coming up even just a handful of ideas. That is, until I remembered that ELEMENTS includes an entire section on foods! Eight months to go, and already I have enough possibilities to fill the entire month. There's no way I'd be able to pull it off without ELEMENTS.

Seriously, I can't give this book enough stars!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Author Responds to Reviewer Keith E. Welsh "Figaro" 17 Aug. 2010
By I'd rather be reading - Published on Amazon.com
Dear Mr. Welsh,

I am the author of the book you trashed. I readily agree there are a number of typos in this edition; the UK 2007 and 2008 editions are much cleaner.

Nevertheless, your review's account of one of the book's "glaring errors" is irresponsible and inaccurate. You claim: "Frost asserts that the angel Balthamos is female even though all the quotations she offers refer to Balthamos as 'he.'"

The main clause of this sentence is simply untrue.

The only use of the word "female" in Balthamos's entry is in the section Alliances, which reads as follows: "Baruch, Unnamed female angel 'banished' by the Authority when she found out he was not her creator."

Now, had "Unnamed" been lowercased, you could have argued that I said Baruch -- not Balthamos -- was female, if you understood the rest of the line to be an appositive. But Unnamed is not lowercased. It is uppercased for a reason which you failed to comprehend.

If you want to provide other, defensible examples of errors to illustrate your one-star rating, go right ahead. But I will consider it a malicious act of defamation if you do not amend your review.

Finally, I am puzzled by your comment, "Philip Pullman might use this as a reference, but he also knows what she gets wrong."

Please let us all know how you know what Philip Pullman knows.

LF
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Knowledge adds dimension to reading 28 Nov. 2010
By bernie - Published on Amazon.com
Most fiction stands alone as a good read. Some make you think and some do not. However as with all the classics, many writers do not create characters and places out of whimsy.

There are so many hours in a day and it is not possible for the masses to be educated in every discipline needed to understand the deeper meaning of many of the symbols, places, and names involved in the stories we read. So we can use the help of books like "The Elements of His Dark Materials" by Laurie Frost to fill in the gaps and keep us focused on the original story. The book seems more massive than the book it is describing.

Even with books like "Annotated Alice" the philosophy is absent and another book "Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy" is needed to fill in the gaps. This book may not be the whole story but it is a great starting place.

From the Back Cover:
Spoiler Warning
Please be aware that the encyclopedic nature of this book makes spoilers inevitable.
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