Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A competent end to a wonderful story., 5 Aug. 2002
This review is from: The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials) (Paperback)
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 than epic. Oddly enough, the fact that it contains his most forthright ideas on Christianity tends to mire it somewhat in that tradition, whereas the previous volumes felt felt newer and fresher.
I also feel that the wider scope leaves the author with so many loose ends to tie up that some of the tying seems almost perfunctory, and the characters' entrances and exits arbitrary at times. The damp squib of Father Gomez has been mentioned by other reviewers, but I also felt that Metatron was introduced and dispatched far too briskly. Pullman could at least have talked him up a bit more. A staggered denouement can be a very moving thing in literature but here I felt the writing over the last 100 pages or so became slightly jaded. There were even times when I wondered where the editor was (the word 'little' six times on one page, for example, when at least half of the instances were redundant).
I don't agree with some of the other reviewers' complaints, though -- particularly over the character of Lyra, which clearly had to change a lot. I'd like to have seen more of a couple of the older characters, but that's just my opinion. I admired the way I was kept guessing about Mrs Coulter's intentions until the very last second, the Gallivespians were excellent and overall, character development remained a strength throughout.
A single volume of this quality would deserve high praise, and I certainly wouldn't discourage anyone from reading 'His Dark Materials' on the strength of my misgivings about 'The Amber Spyglass'. But there was nothing here that thrilled, moved and appalled me like the Bolvangar scenes in 'Northern Lights' or Lee Scoresby's last stand in 'The Subtle Knife'.
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