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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Epic Trilogy in one Epic Volume
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...
Published on 1 Feb 2008 by Robbie Swale

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Small print, heavy, all one volume. Great books though!
I love these books which are definitely 5 stars. However don't buy this edition: it's 3 books printed in one volume which makes it irritatingly small print and heavy.
Published 13 months ago by xyz


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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Epic Trilogy in one Epic Volume, 1 Feb 2008
By 
Robbie Swale - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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
5.0 out of 5 stars "Then I saw her face, Now I'm a believer" Neil Diamond, 15 Jan 2008
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: His Dark Materials (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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198 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't expect an easy ride..., 2 Aug 2002
By 
D. O'Brien "D.O'Brien" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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).
Even on a scale as grand as this, you can't help being drawn into the minutae of Lyra's world, her struggles, her emotions, and the realities of her burgeoning adolesence.
Be prepared for an emotional involvement in this trilogy. Whether you agree with it's somewhat grey-area moral stance, you won't fail to be impressed by it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most relevant story, 27 Aug 2003
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. Specially the ending of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is to be replaced by the Republic of Heaven. However, organised religion should think twice before condemning the trilogy to bonfire, since that is precisely the kind of attitude which has lead Pullman to make his denunciation in the first place. A more rational approach to the story should be advised. Along each of the three books, we are introduced to three mysterious devices: a compass which can tell the truth, a knife so strong than can cut almost anything, including windows into different worlds, and a spyglass which humans can use to observe Dust. The story leaves compelling cliff hangers at the end of the first and second books, and becomes more interesting as it advances. I personally found the third book the best by all means. Its ending is absolutely heartbreaking, and it can take days to reflect on it and assimilate it. Although the reader is left with the feeling that a sequel is needed in order to fix things up, she (he) eventually realises that it is the best possible ending. Although profoundly sad and traumatic, it leaves an open window to optimism.
Overall, Pullman shows great artistry in the command of the English Language, which by itself makes the Trilogy captivating. At some points, we are left with the impression that more work should have been devoted by the author, in the development of some of the episodes. Although it is clear that it is a fantasy story, there is a minimum credibility to be expected from fantasy. Also, there are a few loose ends, which could have been easily mended by the author, with minor changes in some of the dialogues. Still, the story is extremely good, and the trilogy highly recommendable.
A final word of caution should be cast: Although His Dark Materials has been classified as a children’s book, it requires a minimum maturity to understand some of the issues it deals with, so “parental guidance” is strongly recommended. Furthermore, religious families may feel offended by some of the concepts, which as I mentioned earlier, are outright heretical on the face of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. However, open minded religious people will recognise that many of the main ideas fostered by Pullman are in line with religious values, except, of course, his doubt on the existence of God. In any case, it is just a story, not a manifesto. On the other hand, by the end, the reader is left with the idea that what Pullman actually did is to rediscover the existence of God in the omnipresent Dust, although he will probably not recognise it.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great gift set of the great books, 18 Jan 2008
By 
Robbie Swale - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Enough has been said about how wonderful these books are. In my opinion they are the most brilliant and life-affirming books I have ever read. The important thing about this product, though, is it is the best gift-set I could find of the books.

It's three paperbacks, with the best covers available, in a box. If you want to give His Dark Materials as a gift, then for me it's either this, or the all-in-one hard back.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just buy it., 18 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Hardcover)
I don't have Pullman's way with words, so I can't express how good this trilogy is. I can't describe how intricately it's plotted, how widely it's imagined or how deeply it's felt. I can't conjure the dazzling array of characters that Pullman has created - all of them complex, all of them with their flaws and their contradictions - nor can I convey how intelligent this story is, or how truthful, how moving.
But it is all these things and more.
If you want to read something that will change the way you look at the world, that will move you to laughter and to tears, and that will keep you awake long into the night shaking with wonder and with fear, then read this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Dark Materials trilogy, Phillip Pullman, 6 Oct 2005
By 
D. Gwynne "David Gwynne" (Leicester UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It is difficult to say anything new about this work, but here goes...
His Dark Materials is potentially incredibly powerful, making the reader probe deeply into their own thoughts and fears. It tackles some very big issues - the history of the Catholic church being the obvious example. But most of all, above all, this trilogy has to be the most readable story I have ever encountered, and I know that many of my friends, and many people in general find this also.

At first, I must admit that I was a little concerned that Pullman was on something of a crusade to 'pull a finger' at the Church... and that this may unfairly influence the thoughts of some younger readers. But upon consideration, I think that the book is written so masterly that these things will only matter to those people who already have the seed of that thought in their minds, and in my case at least, generally agree with Pullman's point of view.

In any case, I think any excuse to highlight the atrocities of the Catholic church is probably a good thing, given that to my mind such lessons are seldom taught in the school system...! (not that they have ONLY committed attrocities!!)

Perhaps the most impressive of all Pullman's achievments is the world he creates in the books - a world full of the most amazing, imaginative characters, places, phenomena (the Northern Lights), peoples... but almost all of which have their grounding in our world. This transports the reader effortlessly into the heart of these worlds, so much so that after reading for a sustained period, one would hardly be suprised to read of 'Gobblers' in the day's papers!

All in all, this is a work of a true Master of writing, a story which I'm sure will endure for a long, long time, and can be appreciated by all ages.

PS this is NOT just a kid's book, if you own a bookshop, take note!! ;oD
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take this from your children and read it yourself!, 19 May 2006
By 
I bought this set not knowing what to expect, but hearing good things about it, I was not disappointed.

For me Northern Lights is the best fiction book I have read for about 5 years, even beating such luminaries as 1984. Buy it for your children and read it for yourself. After the first chapter I was hooked, and by the end of the series I felt like one of the characters who loved Lyra like a daughter.

Lyra's world is more convincing than Narnia or Potter's world, and will certainly make you think more than either of those series. It deals with so many ideas and themes I question how a child could fully appreciate these books.

My only criticism was that I was never fully convinced by Mrs Coulter, but that's just me trying to pick faults with a master piece.

Read it and love it.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, 24 Jan 2004
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Paperback)
I read this trilogy after seeing it plugged on the BBC's Big Read. Well what can I say. It is quite simply breathtaking. Reading His Dark Materials really takes you off to the world with Lyra and it's hard to come back. It is witout a doubt the best read I have had for as long as I can remember.
The most wonderful thing about it is it's relevance to the real world mixed with such fantastical storytelling with it's twists and turns. You won't be able to put it down!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 28 Oct 2003
This review is from: His Dark Materials (Hardcover)
I never even knew of philip pullman until i saw the northern lights glint in my eye. I have never looked back. I read all three amazing books in succession and colud not bare to put the book down. This is no childrens book but a sophisticated book which unravels its meaning as you step through its pages. one to buy and read over and over again.
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His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (Mass Market Paperback - Sep 2003)
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