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2 of 2 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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A competent end to a wonderful story.
I enjoyed 'The Amber Spyglass', having come to love the story, the characters and the author's audacious imagination over the previous two volumes, but for me it's the weakest of the trilogy. I think Pullman has tried to take the story to another level with a broader canvas and deeper scientific and theological implications, but at times it ends up feeling diffuse rather...
Published on 5 Aug 2002 by drjohndee


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2 of 2 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 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
By 
P. Ward (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful - Just a gem!, 17 Aug 2003
The Amber Spyglass is the best book in the trilogy, the characters intricate and perplexing, the ideas original and almost harrowing.
The problem is, obviously, that devout christians will be offended, well, I don't mind because I'm very anti-Christian anyway. The idea is that in a parallel world the Church (The Magnesium) is an all powerful body based in Geneva, intent on destroying "Dust" which they believe to be original sin. Actually. Dust is the particles of inquisitive nature, namely the intelligence adult human possess and children don't, and they possess Dust when they lose innocence. It is a compelling book on a grand scale, almost wondering if the church could become an all power body in our world, and perceive to destroy all.
Many Christians believe the ideas in this book are proposterous, and that Pullman's ego has run wild, but relentlessly, they will never come to the realisation that it is a warning in fiction. It is a masterpiece, which I may have implyed already, well worth the 6.99 I paid for it, and I would have paid much more for the book.
I wish not to make any plot spoilers, but simply to say that I highly recommend this book. It's well worth the money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Response to criticism, 17 Nov 2000
By A Customer
I won't just repeat what everyone else has said, although I'm glad to agree that the Amber Spyglass is the greatest book I've ever had the pleasure of reading. While doing so, I often had to pause and close my eyes to let the full genius of a specific moment sink in, or just to appreciate the awe-inspiring skill with which the story is assembled.
The point of this review, though, is to answer some of the criticisms I've read among the other reviews, namely from Christians accusing it of being a rally against Christianity. None of use are in the position to say whether or not it is meant to be such, but if you find yourself outraged while or after reading this book, try to think of it just as a story. Failing that, consider whether the God and heaven described in the book are anything like those in which you believe, and then just enjoy the book as the master work that it is.
I am not personally a Christian, but I fear that some people who are might miss the grace and beauty of this book, in which case it's not worth starting to read it, since you may just feel anger against it, instead of the joy and awe it clearly inspires in the rest of us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vast ideas and an emotive personal story, 13 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This book, quite simply, challenges all ideas of love, hatred, and religion. It forces the young reader to rethink the most controversial and important issues in society - what happens after we die? do we have a soul? are there 'other worlds' than the one in which we live? The reader is presented with new ideas and concepts which will not be easily forgotten.
This background of such vast ideas is told behind a story of two children. The reader sees Lyra and Will grow up, find themselves and find love, only to have it torn away. The final chapters of their story are written with absolutely heart-rending emotion. I find it one of the most emotive, and true, pieces of prose available to children today.
'The Amber Spyglass' is a beautiful, thought-provoking, brilliantly well-written book. Although the book deals with immense ideas and presents radical concepts to the reader, it remains accessible to the younger reader through the personal accounts of Will and Lyra.
I am a great admirer of Philip Pullman's work, and I count 'The Amber Spyglass' as a phenomenal conclusion to the best trilogy he has thus produced - 'His Dark Materials'.
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The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials)
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials) by Philip Pullman (Hardcover - 5 May 2008)
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