Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials) Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Exuberant, intelligent fun . . . Once again Pullman has created a work of art that is enchanting for a child but equally appealing to an adult" (Amanda Craig The Times)
"Tantalisingly short, irresistibly snappy and full of dangerous derring-do" (Independent)
"This is a real treat, and easily one of the publishing hightlights of the year that will be devoured by fans old and new" (The Bookseller)
"Small and elegant, the book is exquisitely illustrated with woodcuts by John Lawrence and rounded off with bits of memorabilia including a newspaper clipping giving a different spin on events plus a board game. Fast and powerful, this is an exciting read" (Anne Faundez Carousel)
"A short, simple, elegant story . . . cloth-bound, with enhancing woodcuts by master-engraver John Lawrence" (Claudia Fitzherbert Spectator) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
But to take off that star, one has to consider the reasons why it deserved the full five in the first place. The title should give things away just a little; this is essentially a western short story. And a rollicking good one too, because this is the tale of how Lee Scoresby the aeronaut and the bear Iorek Byrnison first met. The events take place a full thirty-five years before the climax of His Dark Materials Boxed set (His Dark Materials), when Lee is but a young man of 24 and newly introduced to the balloon he has recently won in a poker game. As a result his flying is best described as inexpert.
So it is that Lee (and his daemon Hester) arrive in the town of Novy Odense and become involved in a stand-off between a put-upon sailor named van Berda and the power of corporate privilege. After meeting a shady figure from his past, Lee decides he must choose a side, which is how he comes across Iorek.
As you'd expect from something written by Pullman, the story reads with an effortless grace and is beautifully and finely observed and constructed. The extras, like Lyra's Oxford before it are in turn intriguing and useful, including documents and artefacts connected to the narrative itself, as well as a board game, 'Peril At The Pole'.
The last couple of pages are especially curious and relate to Lyra and her correspondence with a minor character from book one.Read more ›
The writing is crisp, dark and funny/sad, just as in the original books and the woodcuts, the game and all the additional letters etc, make this cloth bound, pocket sized book a thing of great beauty and a needful addition to any bookshelf. The characterisation is excellent, and these are two of the best characters in the trilogy to meet again.
So, why disappointing? Because it is too short. Because there has been nothing in the way of a real meaty adventure issuing forth from Pullman's pen for too long, and because I'm greedy and I want more. Pull your finger out Philip, there's a dear.
"Once Upon a Time in the North" has the feel of a Cowboy Western story set in the Arctic (perhaps in homage to Sergio Leone's "Once Upon A Time In The West"). It tells the tale of how the 23-year-old Lee Scoresby (already equipped with his unique charisma we have come to love) first encountered his life companion Iorek Byrnison. As an ardent fan of His Dark Materials, it was delightful to notice some happenings here and there that later formed details in the main trilogy - such as the circumstances in which Lee took Iorek onto his balloon, or how he acquired his balloon and rifle. At the end, we also get the briefest of insights into what Lyra is up to after her adventure, which was a nice touch and lures us to further speculation.
The presentation and layout of this novella can also only be described as a delight. The cloth-backed cover and the engraved illustrations are striking, reminiscent of a regal and deluxe 19th Century collectors' edition; meanwhile the fold-out board game and other snippets of authentic-looking media tickle your imagination. It's a type of book where you cannot help but feel tenderness and love for.
Pullman's writing here is once again masterful: there are passages of flowing description, juxtaposed with tension and a quick unfolding of events. Not one word seems unnecessary or out of place. While people may say it was not long enough, I believe that the book's compactness and self-containedness makes the reading of this book a far more fulfilling experience than "Lyra's Oxford" (which at times felt loosely constructed and meandering).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An enjoyable return to the world of His Dark Materials, exploring a key incident early in Lee Scoresby's career. Read morePublished 5 months ago by S Litton
Bought this for my daughter as a follow up to Pullmans excellent trilogy, the Dark Materials. Well packaged and arrived on time. Read morePublished 11 months ago by David H
I've always found this instalment the weakest out of all the His Dark Materials books. I hoped to discover something I missed as I've now reread all books. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dan Thompson, Author