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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 3rd vol of the best trilogy ever written - Outstanding!, 11 Jan 2001
By A Customer
It somehow doesn't seem fair for a writer to publish a masterpiece like this trilogy in three parts - I was hooked from the first page of Northern Lights. Luckily, I discovered it only a year ago, so I could read The Subtle Knife without waiting. But the wait for the third volume seemed so, so long. It was worth it - Mr Pullman doesn't put a foot wrong through the three books. If this doesn't go into the annals of history marked as a masterpiece, then there's something very, very wrong. It's rich, rewarding, complex, subtle, revealing, enlightening and challenging all at once, and oh, it's so full of hope! Philip Pullman draws his characters with precision and manages to make them completely remarkable without producing caracatures. Every one of them is completely believable, and he also manages to make the impossible completely plausible. Lose yourself between the worlds that he has created, love and hate the characters that he has conjured up. It's a rich and heady mixture that is enchanting. It says a great deal of his books that my 10 year old son and I have read them with equal enjoyment. Mr Pullman, I salute you and thank you.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars magnificent, 22 Oct 2000
By A Customer
It's been a long wait for The Amber Spyglass, but it has been so worth it... It's the sort of book that when you're halfway through you begin to resent yourself and the author because while you know you'll read it again many times, it will never again feel quite how it feels to read it for the first time. What a marvellous end to the trilogy. Inspiring and heartbreaking and quite simply magical, with images and scenes that will live with you forever. The storytelling is precise, the characterisations complex and deeply satisfying, and the scope and clarity of the plot are breathtaking. His Dark Materials is going to be read by children and parents (and everyone else!) for generations to come for its intellectual power and awesome imagination. It ties quantum mechanics to high theology; it provides the reader with visions of the alien alongside the familiar personality types and more than anything it celebrates a sense of adventure. The only recent book that attempts and achieves something similar to this is The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It sounds like an exaggeration, (but I don't think it is) - this series will become a valuable part of our culture in this new century and The Amber Spyglass is a thing to treasure. You won't forget how it makes you feel. Nor will you want to.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Touching End to a Wonderful Series, 9 Oct 2004
This book captivated me and kept me guessing the whole way through. The series (not excluding this book) encompasses a lot of different lierary elements-- philosophy, religion, and human nature all play key roles in unraveling the true meaning of the masterful web of emotions and impulses Pullman weaves for readers. You will constantly stop and think about how much and how differnent the author's own view of civilization compares to his or her own. Watching the characters grow and mature through the first two books comes to a seemingly wonderful climax at the end, only to tear out the heart of the reader in the finish. Concluding this this self-testing series is a heartwrenching event that comes like a blow to the stomach to anyone with even a minute amount of empathy (don't be ashamed to cry your eyes out as I did). This book will come to enlighten anyone wavering on what they belive and how the world works (or should work depending on your standing) and what the meaning of true love is-- not what you do with a lover, but what you sacrafice for one. Turly a must-read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great dramatisation, 21 Oct 2002
By 
kathryn "Kate" (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
IT's always nice to hear a writer reading his own work, but here there is the added bonus that PP is a great reader, and has a very listenable speaking-voice. The actors chosen for the characters are, on the whole, very fitting (I especially like Iorek) and the music isn't actually incomprahensibly bad like in The Subtle Knife, and there isn't so much of it. IT's quite disctracting when Archers characters keep popping up, but we can't have everything.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the millenium, 10 Nov 2000
By A Customer
When reading the 1st 2 books of this trilogy i thought i would never read a better book in my entire life- that they could not be improved on in any way- but Phillip Pullman has just performed a miracle. This book is the most heart-wrenching, soul crushing book i have ever read and ever will read without a shadow of doubt. I experienced feelings so intense i never thought them possible- i had never imagined a love so passionate and all engulfing could possibly exist- its beyond anyones imagination and probably even pullmans before he wrote it. I would just like to say that whatever Phillip Pullman does with the rest of his life he should know that his life has definitely not been in vain- he has changed the life of many many people in this world- not least of all me. Since finishing this book i have become a much happier fulfilled person- although i was depressed and cried alot for a few days afterwards- the ending is so sad you can't imagine it until you have read it. It leaves you drained and all you can think is WHY? Why does life have to be so cruel- can life be so cruel? Can anyone love with that much might? Is it possible? Mind you the ending is totally different to what i expected. I don't think anyone could percieve it.If you have not read this book you are missing out on the book of your lifetime and the reading experience of a lifetime. It beats every book i have read, and thta includes Lord of the Rings and War and Peace, all the classics, not a patch on this. This comment does it no justice at all, its a masterpiece. All i can say is read it. The only flaw is any other book i ever read will seem like nothing in comparison, never will anything as good be written ever again. Its not possible. This book will still be the best book in history when the universe ends, and Phillip Pullmans name will go down in history as the greatest writer of all time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books i have ever read, 12 May 2005
By A Customer
I really can't recommend this book, and the rest of the trilogy, highly enough. Its an absolutely immense work of literary genius, and deserves all the awards it won. The story is thrilling, the characters are developed amazingly well, and the story is underlined by a deep philosophical commentary.
The fact that it criticises christianity, is probably the reason it wasn't more highly acclaimed. Looking at some other reviews, you can see some superstitious religious types are quite offended. I suppose the answer is, if offends you its probably not a good idea to read it. I certainly try and avoid reading material that equates aetheists to satanism etc, and theres a fair bit of it around.
anyway, for those who are prepared to ignore the philosophy, there is a thoroughly gripping and touching story that everyone can appreciate. The ending is truely touching, and caps off an amazing trilogy.
I would recommend this to anyone, with the exception of the easily offended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 19 Feb 2001
By A Customer
I finished this book less than 24 hours ago and I'm just wandering around in a daze. The pace and action leave you breathless and I fell in love with the characters so much that I was regularly frightened to turn the page for fear of what might happen to them. This is a tale in the grand tradition of cosmic good and evil but sufficiently ambiguous as to leave you wondering where you actually stand in the real world.
I am now seriously depressed because it feels that, in Will and Lyra, I have lost friends as I closed the book at the end. I toyed with the idea of starting Northern Lights again but opted for buying The Ruby in the Smoke - if Philip Pullman can write a trilogy like this I'm sure all his books are going to be wonderful.
This falls into the category of'young persons' book, but believe me, it's for everyone. If you don't like it you have my greatest sympathy for having been unable to enjoy one of the best books of the last century!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, Outstanding, Incredible, 13 July 2001
By A Customer
So many people have added their thoughts to this review page that I can't honestly believe anyone will care much about my opinion. However, I feel that this is such an incredible, amazing, fantastic book that I have to add my praises to so many that have come before. It is so absorbing, I lost weeks of sleep getting through it. Don't be put off because it's big, every moment and every world will keep you hanging off the edge of your seat. The fantasy world that Philip Pullman creates is completely perfect and believable, but the end is so utterly tragic and unbelievably heart wrenching. The chances are you will cry. You will reread it and cry again. I won't spoil the ending, but for those who have read it, I live in Oxford and I intend to go to the bench in the Botanical gardens next Midsummers day. Read this and you won't forget it. It will lift you up and give you hope for the future, and then break your heart, and then, beautifully, attempt to resolve the utter tragedy in a way that will squeeze tears out of anyone. Read this. It is well, well worth it. It is beautifully well-written, a total classic in its own right. I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. Read this. I have said that three times and if it would help to persuade you I would say it another three hundred But as I very much doubt anyone will ever read this I won't bother. Read the Amber Spyglass. Captivating, Incredible, Magical.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent and Enchanting, 4 Nov 2000
By A Customer
This book, is, without doubt, the single greatest literary experience that I have had the privelage to partake in. The first novels in Pullman's trilogy were wonderful of course, but nothing prepared me for The Amber Spyglass. The story itself is a heart-wrenching epic and perfectly closes the greatest trilogy ever concieved, with this book being the pinnacle of that effort. I cannot put into words the emotions I feel at this moment, having just turned over the last page an hour ago. My fear is that this book shall be over looked as child's fair, but I will tell you that I am a seventeen year old, cynical American boy, and this book has marked me more than any other piece of literature that I have ever read. The characters have become so tangible to me over the course of this trilogy that (warning, cliche ahead)I literaly felt like I was walking just behind Lyra and Will on their quest. Pullman has drawn upon the philosophies of Milton and the character development of Tolkien to bring us the most gripping fantasy ever written. Yet the term fantasy should not be labeled upon this trilogy, because it is so much more than just escapism entertainment, it is life affirming as well as thought provoking. Listen to me lavish praise on this book, it IS that good. Lyra, Will, Ms. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Iorek, Balthamos and the wheeled creatures are the most beautifully concieved characters I've ever come across, except for maybe Harry Potter and Hermione Granger (you guessed it right, that's a tinge of sarcasm on my typing fingers). I hate even putting the two in the same sentence but the fact that Harry Potter will sell more copies than these books just reveals that our civilization is going to hell in a hand-basket. My eyes are closing and my neck is aching from my long nights with this book, and I feel an empty feeling now that this experince, like all good things, has come to an end. I have never been moved by any single thing in my life to the point of crying, but the final pages of this book accomplished that feat. Everyone should go out and purchase this book as a favor to themselves (and their daemons), people must experience the magic of this novel so that I can sleep well at night.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, subtle and deceptively deep, 19 Mar 2003
When you get to my time of life (I'm 48) it's just not worth nobly ploughing through a book that doesn't grab the attention, or one which seems superficial. On the other hand there are plenty of books that are just plain gripping. Pullman's Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife fall into the this category. More rarely you find the novel which is so engrossing that you don't want it to end, and which leaves you reeling when it does so you want to go straight back in there and find out just how it works. Such a novel is "The Amber Spyglass".
It's not hard to see from the existing reviews that feelings about this extraordinary book run high. Some have relished it as a rippling good yarn. Some have hated it and felt offended by it. And some have been bewildered by it, thought it weak and disappointing. Believe me, there is nothing weak or wimpish about The Amber Spyglass, and if anybody thinks so then they have missed something in its intricate subtleties. This is a grown-up book for sophisticated readers
Perhaps disappointment is a matter of expectations. There are a lot of raised expectations here that come to very little, and I don't believe that is carelessness on Pullman's part. I think he has constructed this novel meticulously, using Paradise Lost as a loose framework, around the growing up of Will and Lyra, the central characters, and a Blakean journey from innocence into experience as Lyra is led towards temptation and the choice she must make which will affect the destiny of all conscious life. The setting for this is a new Garden of Eden, a world populated by mulefa, intelligent beings living in harmony with nature, which is bypassed by the conflicts raging in the world around them (we are pulled up short when Will opens a window to his own - our - world and exposes a great chemical factory). To this Eden come, first Mary the physicist whose destiny is to play the Tempter, then Will and Lyra, who must be tempted and become conscious before she can make her choice, and then the zealous and fanatical priest Father Gomez blundering in with his rifle, but rendered impotent in this world. The ending is powerful and gut-wrenching, but the only one that can lead from Lyra's choice, which marks her growing into wisdom from the spoilt and selfish brat (albeit a thoroughly engaging one!) of the earlier books (Lyra is an accomplished Liar!). And if the conclusions seem anticlimatic, then they are merely an affirmation that magic spells and subtle knives are as nothing; it's truth and wisdom that really tell. Life is what you make it. Your heart's desire is in your back yard all along. The republic of heaven must be built where you are.
Thoroughly and highly recommended. It will just about stand up on its own but reading the earlier books would be a big help.
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The Amber Spyglass (BBC MP3 CD Audio)
The Amber Spyglass (BBC MP3 CD Audio) by Philip Pullman (Audio CD - 4 Nov 2003)
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