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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So ambitious
In the final volume of his excellent "His Dark Materials" trilogy Pullman's narrative opens on to sweeping vistas of his imagination which dwarf all that went before. This is both the main strength and the principal weakness of "The Amber Spyglass". Whereas the previous books were tightly controlled and focused with many unanswered questions this book, in attempting to...
Published on 23 Jan. 2003 by Tom

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good bits, but just too much unneccesary info
The third part in the trilogy, again I had read this about 10 years ago and I remembered that I struggled with it a bit back then, didn't find it as interesting as the other 2 but still loved the series. I hoped since I have changed since reading that maybe I would appreciate this one more this time round.
I did not!
In fact I found it hard-work, tiresome and...
Published 22 months ago by Barmy_Bex


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So ambitious, 23 Jan. 2003
In the final volume of his excellent "His Dark Materials" trilogy Pullman's narrative opens on to sweeping vistas of his imagination which dwarf all that went before. This is both the main strength and the principal weakness of "The Amber Spyglass". Whereas the previous books were tightly controlled and focused with many unanswered questions this book, in attempting to answer those questions and more besides, is inevitably sprawling. The sheer daring of Pullman's prose is surely to be applauded and the whole section in the underworld is as darkly satisfying as anything I can remember though less sinister then the other books for being so explicit.
It is in this book that Pullman's true purpose in writing is revealed and the trilogy in many ways occupies the space of allegory rather than true fantasy. And is all the better for it. I myself am Catholic and found the anti-church diatribes a little wearing at times. However the moral heart of these books are secure and there is little doubt that theocracy, bigotry and fanaticism are indeed evils. What is curious for such an avowedly atheist book is that it is in many ways profoundly religious and much of the wonder of it lies in its theological and metaphysical speculation.
Although the conclusion of the books is itself highly acceptable the actual execution is unfortunately a little limp. It is when Pullman shifts from allegory to direct preaching that he falters and the narrative flags. That said this is one of the more thought provoking books I have read in a while and when so much adult fiction deals with such mindlessly superficial subjects it is always refreshing to read something that tackles matters of importance. It's a damn good read too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Book, 12 Jun. 2009
The Amber Spyglass is one of the best books I have ever read and is suitable for people of any age apart from young children as the plot is quite complex with lots of twists and turns and a large number of characters so you could get a bit confused. It is a fast-paced book with plenty of action and is an amazing conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. The two main characters, Will and Lyra, are likeable and realistic and this makes you want to continue reading. The Amber Spyglass is also very different to most books you will have read before and captivates you from the beginning. Although it is long, you never feel tempted to skip a few pages or chapters like you might do with other long books, as everything that happens is relevant to the overall plot and you never get bored because there is too much description or dialogue.

The book's ending is also extremely good. It would have been easy for Philip Pullman to give it a happy, predictable ending, but instead, he chose to make it much more memorable. It is heartbreaking and suitably climatic for such a good book. Although you might wish Pullman had made the ending happier, it will definitely be one you will never forget.

Overall, if you have already read the first two books in this series, "The Amber Spyglass" is a must-read and if you haven't read any of them yet, you definitely should. You won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Amber Spyglass, 19 Mar. 2004
By 
hannah (Falkirk, Scotland) - See all my reviews
The third part of this wonderful series "The Amber Spyglass" does not let the reader down.
The final part takes us through many worlds each being somewhat familiar...yet completely different to our own. The wonder of this series is the invitation you are given to think about life and the world on several different plains and not see evereything as black and white....encompassing contrasting genres of science and religion in a universe filled with metaphor. There is a coaxing to read between the lines if you can handle what you might find.
If you read the first two in the series you will have developed a sense of familiarity with the characters, the main being Lyra. Throughout the first two novels we witness this rebellious little girl suffer pain, fear and heartache which she battles through growing in strength, courage and intelligence. Part 3 heralds an older Lyra who, at the same time as continuing her battle for a safe world and essentially trying to get home, is experiencing new emotions and coping with the knowledge that her existence must shortly change for ever.
The Amber Spyglass offers more war, struggle, self discovery, growth and love. Ending the trilogy in a way that leaves the reader inspired, enlightened and a little bit afraid for the world we know and the possibilities of worlds we don't.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Northern Lights Audio, 28 Dec. 2003
By A Customer
The cover-to-cover audio books of the Northern Lights trilogy is outstanding. Philip Pullman narrates his own work and other parts are dramatised. None of the subtlety is lost in these books, unlike the BBC version. Indeed as they are narrated by Pullman himself, I found my enjoyment and understanding of these complex and compelling books increased ten-fold. The audio books were thrilling car journey listening for adults, a 12-year old, 9-year old and two 8-year old boys.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeper and deeper it goes., 19 July 2004
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The Amber Spyglass wraps up His Dark Materials in a headlong race to the final battle with the Hosts Of Heaven. I have enjoyed these books so much. They are exceptionally well written and I have really come to care about what happens to Lyra, Will, Iorek and all the others.
This book is the deepest out of the three with so much happening in different places, which makes it easy to read just a bit more as you want to know what's happening to everyone else.
The descriptions are terrific, as are the characterisations. The plot is just mind-blowing.
I've said in reviews of the earlier books that I don't agree with Pullman's world-view and even more so in this book. I don't see God as some whimpering, frightened, impotent old man; but that didn't stop me from enjoying this series. I think my theology and philosophy of life can take a little battering from time to time. That's what makes it real. If it fell down, I'd have to start re-evaluating. But it didn't.
Philip Pullman is one of the best contemporary writers of fantasy fiction and long may he continue to wow his readership with amazing worlds and characters!
A wonderful series of novels no matter what your beliefs are. It's fiction, Jim; but not as we've known it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 22 July 2005
I started reading the first book of the trilogy after seeing it mentioned on Richard and Judy (the morning show!!) a good few years ago now. The first book was a well written enchanting story, immediately i couldnt wait to start the second which was again a brilliant piece of writing and a great book in its own right.
However both books as good as they were were only setting the scene for what can only be descibed as probably the best book i have ever read. Every step of the way you are with Will and Lyra you feel eveything they do and by the end the monumental decisions they make will make you beg for a different ending (to stop your own heartache!!)
The one thing that impressed me most however was how well presented his ideas about religion, free thought, and the after life were. They were all encompassed in a brilliant moving thought provoking story.
I would thoroughly recommend His Dark Materials Trilogy to everybody.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It sounds sad, but I can't recommend this book enough, 15 Mar. 2004
By 
Robbie Swale - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
I know it does sound sad, and most customer reviews just say "yes, it's great, it's the best book I've ever read" and that sort of thing. In this case, though, I think it probably is.
The intricacies of the plot, the characters and the ideas are incredible and enveloping. The story is fast-paced and multi-faceted. The emotional involvement is second to no other book I have ever read. It is a very sad book in parts, but also very uplifting. It made me believe in love, and life, and all those sorts of things.
You may not be as emotionally malleable as me, and so may not find youself affected so profoundly by the book as I have been, but if you enjoyed Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife, then there is really nothing to do other than to read this one and be astounded. If you haven't read those two titles, then be very aware that this is a trilogy and that it will make much more sense if you read them first.
Above all else this book highlights the dizzy heights that Philip Pullman's story-telling can take you. It is a classic book in a classic trilogy. What more can be said?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eventual satisfaction, 20 May 2008
By 
David F (Tokushima, Japan) - See all my reviews
Some of the reviews of 'His Dark Materials' seem to show disappointment that a promising Potter-esque fairytale concludes with a fractured essay on existence. For me, it has the opposite effect. 'Northern Lights' was OK, but it never really grabbed me. I kept going because I trusted that the series would eventually say something, and it did.

'The Amber Spyglass' is a wonderful meditation on the nature of life. It is healthily anti-theist without ever making its message obvious and preachy. The chapters concerning Mary Malone's stay in a bizarre parallel world could have been an irritating diversion, but they're the most beautiful, convincing passages of the whole trilogy. If they ever get round to filming it, they'll have a tough job converting it into a family-friendly Christmas movie.

Easily the most satisfying book of the three.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Ending!, 8 Dec. 2006
If you don't want to know how His Dark Materials ends, look away now...!

No book is perfect. In this trilogy, the author throws his net so widely that there are almost bound to be some loose ends, inconsistencies, and so on. I doubt whether such things greatly detract from a reader's enjoyment. But the feature of this book which really "gets" to readers is its ending.

In this trilogy, the author has created a universe (or universes) in which anything is possible or conceivable. We, therefore, naturally expect a happy ending. Pullman could easily have provided one. Instead, he has created an ending which is at least bitter-sweet if not downright sad. Readers have been both moved and disturbed by this and, as I think the ending is the book's finest feature, I would like to offer a comment or two.

The love between Lyra and Will is carefully prepared but it nevertheless comes as something of a shock because it occurs so very late in the novel. Pulman has been accused of making an unnecessary assault upon the readers' heartstrings, even of gratuitous sensationalism. I disagree for three reasons. Firstly, the love is an important part of the plot because it actually has a physical impact upon the environment in which it happens. (The author does not explain exactly why this happens - one of the "loose ends" referred to above!) Secondly, the love between Will and Lyra is of an emotional rather than of a gratuitously sexual nature. Many readers, it seems, fail to grasp the distinction. But isn't it possible - especially when young - to be helplessly in love with someone without necessarily wanting to have sex with them? Likewise, is it not possible to lust after someone you don't like very much - like Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter? Finally, the love element draws together a great many of the moral themes of both the novel in question and the trilogy as a whole. Love is seen not as some selfish gratification of individual desires but as a whole way of living, in which doing the right thing for the right reasons, especially in defiance of power and authority, becomes more important than putting oneself first and getting what one wants. The two protagonists can be seen, throughout the trilogy, as agents of Love opposed to the oppression of authority / religion. Their acceptance of their situation, and their affirmation of the value of life and existence, is thus all the more moving. It certainly haunted this reader for days after finishing the book.

A great conclusion to a great series. I can only think of one other author who offers so much to both younger and older readers and that is Lewis Carrol - a very different author but one whose books, like Pullman's, can be understood at many different levels.

Let us hope that when the book is made into a film, the producers concerned will have the courage to present the ending as Pullman wrote it. And let us all hope that Pullman is never so seduced by success that he yields to the temptation to provide a "happily-ever-after" sequel.

After all - Puccini made a whole career out of making people cry!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good bits, but just too much unneccesary info, 2 Aug. 2013
The third part in the trilogy, again I had read this about 10 years ago and I remembered that I struggled with it a bit back then, didn't find it as interesting as the other 2 but still loved the series. I hoped since I have changed since reading that maybe I would appreciate this one more this time round.
I did not!
In fact I found it hard-work, tiresome and slow. I skim read quite a lot of it.
Lyra has been taken by Mrs Coulter, Will is desperate to get her back, Mary has gone through into a new world and various other people and groups are fighting various battles.
I really enjoyed the scenes with Lyra and Will in, even apart, their journey is linked and makes you want to read on. The appearance of Iorek Byrnison and Lee Scoresby is also a welcome release, they are by far my favourite characters. And I found myself enjoying the book when it was focused on these characters, but as soon as it drifted to some of the others i lost interest. It seems to be a lot of back information and padding that holds no particular relevance to the story. I found I didn't care - these were the bits I skimmed over.
Pullman's writing is still magical and can still pull me in and love the world, but this one just had too much waffle!
Mary started out interesting but all the talk of particles and dust movements with her climbing trees and communication with those strange creatures just lost appeal to me, I wanted the book to get to it's point.
If this book had been about 150 pages shorter I think I would have really enjoyed it, but as it was there was just too much and I couldn't make myself care.
As I said, it does have it's moments of brilliance and I did really enjoy parts of it, but overall I struggled a bit, reading it became a chore and I nearly gave up more than once.
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His Dark Materials, Book III: The Amber Spyglass
His Dark Materials, Book III: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (Audio CD - 30 Sept. 2004)
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