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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 22 September 2001
When I finished the prequel to this book, I knew that I must get this. I hoped that this would be as good as "Northern Lights". I was not let down. The end of Northern Lights finished at a real cliff-hanger... The book begins with an unknown character to us, Will taking his mother to see a neibour. Will as you will notice lives in a very different world to Lyra's. One that I think we will all be familyar with. Soon Will climbs trough a magic window and is taken to a different world... Soon he meets up with Lyra Silvertounge a girl with a destiny. Lyra is amazed when she steps into the Oxford that she doesnt know, and is amazed by all the cars and lorrys. They are soon launched into a thrilling quest against good and evil, and discover the mystery of the legendery subtle life. Like its prequel this ends at a real cliff hanger, but to find out what that cliff hanger is..... You will have to read the book yourself. This is why I award this astonishing book 5 stars.
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on 9 April 2015
The Subtle Knife continues directly where Northern Lights/Golden Compass left off: a common trait in trilogies, and one I don't like. (Even in connected books, authors should make each book complete in itself.) Subtle Knife is the same. But each book in this series deals with a very different goal in a different way, which excuses the cliffhanger.

When Lyra takes the "wormhole" (His Dark Materials is really sci-fi in a wizard's robe) she enters an entirely new story, and becomes a different character. Mrs Coulter is as scary as ever: perhaps the most terrifyingly sweet woman in the genre. The parallels between "their" world and "our" world aren't laboured, and as the action moves north to Svalberg the distinctions blur; after all, both universes are covered in snow. Much as Pullman's effortless prose style made us accept daemons are perfectly reasonable in part 1, we accept moving between dimensions as entirely normal in this part 2.

What's more, I hate fantasy. I just hate it: full of lazy supernatural powers and magical get-out-of-jail-free cards. But I'll give any author a chance, and Pullman of course came with somewhat powerful credentials. I'm glad I took the plunge. The Subtle Knife uses the devices of the fantasy genre, but... differently. The mcGuffin (the knife itself) isn't sought reverently for its power; it falls into someone's hands, and it's a huge burden, not a benefit. A true twist that gives the series its narrative strength.

So... a terrific read. But you knew that already. What I'm appealing to in this review is non-fantasy readers. If you think it's beneath you, try His Dark Materials and you might be surprised.
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on 18 February 2016
I really enjoyed this trilogy, even as a thirty-something woman with eclectic reading tastes! I enjoyed both the storylines and the writing style and whilst the themes of religion/original sin are pretty obvious, they were still interesting and philosophically explored, and the idea of parallel universes etc were compelling. The characters were believable and Lyra represents a strong young woman which I liked. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable and often thought-provoking read.
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on 22 August 2007
The first point I have to make about this book is that if after reading the fisrt part to the His Dark Materials trilogy you need any convincing to buy the second part then you've been skipping pages somewhere. After the first installment fans will be annoyed (read tantalised) by the introduction of the new character Will. Whilst burning to learn what's happening to Lyra you find yourself sucked into the world of this new character, our world. This starts the opening out of the entire story into multiple worlds. The introduction of the present day Oxford brings about a strange feeling of unfamiliarity (is that a word?) with our own world which strangely gives some kind of anchor for the rest of the series. This book is where the story changes from one girls fantasical journey to something else.
In this novel the conflict between good and evil, the role of friendship, belief and religious doctrine begin to come satisfylingly together to form not only thoughtful comment on the world as it is, but a bloody good story as well. The character of Will brings a silent strength to Lyra's gobby bravery. The duet is formed for the final book and after any initial apprehension about the new character, a few chapters will have you loving Will just as much as Lyra.
After reading The Subtle Knife you will see Northern Lights as a launching pad for something much more. Of course the starting novel of the trilogy is a great book in itself, but it quite properly saves its greatest ideas for subsequent volumes. The tension increases, the ideas grow and the new characters shine.
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on 6 March 2009
I really enjoyed Northern lights and couldn't see how Pullman would be able to make the sequel much better, but I'm glad to say he did. I thought The Subtle Knife was far better.

Unlike some reviewers I really enjoyed the fact that the novel focuses on Will, and other characters, rather than just solely Lyra. Although I like Lyra I don't think she's enough of a character to hold a whole series on her own so I really enjoyed this aspect of it.

One of the things that irritated me slightly in Northern Lights was Lyra's ability to solve everything immediately and not to get anything wrong. This is somewhat rectified in The Subtle Knife where both Will and Lyra make mistakes, making them far more rounded, and less irritating characters I thought!

I loved the idea of being able to enter and leave other worlds and I can't wait to read The Amber Spyglass to see how Pullman develops this idea further. The idea that characters in one world can be different characters in another was also intriguing, and adds to the level of unsureness (is that a word?) that is throughout the series.

I'd recommend this series to teenagers and maybe more mature, but younger, children- although start with Northern Lights first as otherwise you'll be totally confused!
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on 2 September 2001
Phillp Pullmans the Subtle Knife is an excellent sequel to his first book Northern Lights.
I found it very easy to get into and interesting right from the start. In this book another few characters are introduced such as Will who comes from our world and John Parry also from our world. It also enters another world where the people are haunted by strange things- a bit like ghost.
I found the ending rather disappointing because not all of the mysteries were explained but I suppose that is what makes you long for the next book which I am going to read as soon as Amazon send it to me!
I would recommend this book for children aged 11-14 because some of the concepts are pretty hard to grasp. Such as the idea of the spectres who haunt people and feed on "demons". To us this sounds very weird and sinister but demons in this book are not evil in any way but completely different beings to our understandings of demons.
So as you can see-in the world of this book many things are different to our world so younger children may not be able to understand it as well as 12-14 year olds.
Thanks and get the book-its really great!
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on 21 April 2016
I can't believe that ending its so shocking!!!! I can't believe all the things that has happened in this book!!!! I wonder what my daemon would be??? I can't wait to read the next book!!!! Did u know there's actually 4 books in the dark material series??? The last one I think is all about the way it was made or something o well I can't remember!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ the amber spyglass here I come!!!πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ I πŸ’— reading I πŸ’— Phillip Paul man!!!
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on 15 September 2006
"The subtle knife" is the second book in Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" triology. The first book in the series is "Northern lights" (or "The golden compass", the name given to that book in USA). If you haven't read "Northern lights", don't continue reading this review because it has some spoilers. In case you have read that book, and are understandably eager to know how the story continues, I will give you some hints.

Do you remember the way in which "Northern lights" ended? Lyra and her daemon, Pan, enter an alternate world, passing through a bridge between worlds created by Lord Asriel. New adventures and an entirely new mission await them, as well as another friend, Will. Will Parry is a young boy from our world who is searching for his lost father, and running from the police after commiting a murder. Strangely enough, the fact that Will is a murderer makes Lyra trust him: after all, her dear friend Iorek is a murderer too.

Will and Lyra meet each other for the first time in a strange world where there are no adults, due to invisible Specters that kill them. That is the place where Will is going to find the Subtle Knife, a knife that can cut windows to other worlds, and that is capable of killing anything. Of course, that new tool will be highly useful to the children in their quest, related to the hideous crime Lord Asriel committed in order to create a bridge between worlds. Lyra and Will are not going to be alone, though: old and new friends will rush to help them. Unfortunately, they will also have to face old foes, and try to find out what some ambivalent people want from them.

On the whole, I think that "The subtle knife" is an entertaining book that will please those that have already read the first book in the series. Notwhitstanding that, I don't believe it is quite up to the very high standards previously set by "Northern lights". All the same, I recommend it as good reading material that you are likely to enjoy.

Belen Alcat
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on 26 September 2007
I loved it... It's different from the first one though. The first book concentrates mainly on Lyra, her strange world, her feelings, the things she has to go through.
The second book starts of with a new character, Will, who lives in our world and escapes to an other world, the one where Lyra also finds herself. Both start out with a different quest, but help eachother along the way.
It's the middle book in a trilogy, so you get a lot more questions then you get answers to new and old questions.
It's true that some of the wonder that was in the first book is not in this one, maybe because one of the worlds it's set in is our onw world and we thus know it already. New characters are introduced, old ones reappear, some are not mentioned again but will reappear in the third novel.
Some parts are maybe a bit difficult for children to understand and they certainly won't get all the links to history, but thiw makes them really enjoyable for adults.
All in all I really liked the book and can't wait to finish the third one !
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on 15 September 2013
excellent tale well told with lots of surprises supposed to have religious undertones or messages As its supposedly a childrens book its a bloody good adventure story but not a subversive anti religion tract It may be coloured by the authors view on the matter but surely thats the case with any work of imagination even non fiction is someones take on an occurence or event from their perspective thats what you buy into and thats how you evolve .i like this but i dont like that Now more than at any other time people try to find answers or hidden meanings in many subjects and the church from being this omnipotent figurehead has been shaken by people questioning instead of accepting doctrines at face value .It is written therefore it is should be questioned and investigated whatever the source
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