Tuesday, January 8, 2013

His Dark Materials

The Golden Compass
"In many ways Lyra was a barbarian. What she liked best was cambering over the Colege roofs with Roger, the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passsing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." -The Golden Compass (p. 34-5)

The story starts with Lyra, a young girl living among the scholars of Jordan Coleg in Oxford, sneaking into a room where she is not allowed and hearing things that spark her curiousity and which leads her onto a wild adventure involving unlikely villans, lifelong secrets, painful discoveries, and an awesome bear in armor!

When I first picked up this book my husband looked at me in shock. He could not believe that I had not yet read this series! Now that I have finally picked it up, I can't believe that I have waited so long, either! This book was very interesting, filled with action from one leg of Lyra's journey to the next. I enoyed the world that Philip Pullman creates, one so close to our world yet different in ways that make all the difference. And one of the things that I noticed early on is how Pullman does a great job of explaining the bits of this universe that are different from ours without looking down on the reader or filling the book with exposition to discribe it all. By making the main character a young, oftentimes niave, girl he allows the reader to learn a lot through her.

Over all I am sorry I did not take the chance to read this book when I was younger and would have hung on every word of all three books. Yet I am so glad that I am getting the oppurtinuty to do so now. I look forward to reading the next two books. I also look forward to encouraging my kids to read them as well. You should do the same if you haven't already!

The following  is from the next book of the series. If you have not yet finished the first book you may not want to continue reading. You should stop now and come back later. I do not believe there are really any spoilers, but I am warning you that you may find out things you didn't want to know yet. Read on at your own risk.

The Subtle Knife
"When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once. He could find food, and show her how to reach Oxford, and those werre powers that were useful, but he might still have been untrustworthy or cowardly. A murderer was a worthy companion. She felt as safe with him as she'd felt with Iorek Byrnison, the armored bear." -The Subtle Knife (p. 28)

The story of Lyra and her journey continues. While the first book is set in Lyra's world, this next book takes a trip into the world that the reader knows. Will's world, as he is the first character we meet and one that stays throughout the novel to help Lyra. He is yet another piece to the ever expanding puzzle as Lyra tries to figure out what Dust is, what her father and mother are trying to do with it and the world, and where she fits in with the whole big story. And now she has to figure out how Will fits in as well!

Will and Lyra are so similar, both being survivors with parents that are less than ideal, looking to figure things out for themselves since they can't seem to rely on any adults. Yet they come from two different worlds and they may have two completely different roles to play in the grand scheme of things!

Along for the ride trying to help Lyra, and therefore at times Will, are such favorites as Lee Scoresby and Serafina Pekkala as well as new players of the game Dr. Mary Malone and the man everyone thought dead Professor Stanislaus Grumman. Others fade in and out throughout the story aid or hindering the two children as the case may have it. But through it all they remain mostly focused on what they must do and they plan on doing it together.

Again I enjoyed this book although it took me longer than I would have liked to finish it. If I can make one suggestion to you it would be to read all three books straight through. I put this book down for my Book Club book of the Janurary and picking the series back up proved a little more difficutl than I anticipated. It doesn't help that while The Golden Compass leaves off with Lyra crossing into a new world, this one begins with a little boy in our world. However, I do not think the book slowed down much from the first, instead Pullman was very effective at keeping up the pace of the story, something that tends to be difficult with most trilogies.

I look forward to finally picking up the third book and making my way through the chaos that is different worlds, different missions, different players, and different beliefs! Pullman brings a new meaning to organized chaos in my opinion, and I am rather enjoying it! I hope you have gotten the chance to continue the series if you have not done so in the past! It is a good read!

The Amber Spyglass
'"I'll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we'll cling together so tight that nothing and no one'll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you... We'll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams... And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won't just be able to take one, they'll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we'll be joined so tight..." -Lyra, The Amber Spyglass (p. 497)

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is how incredible I thought this series was. That and how I am kicking myself for taking so long to getting around to reading it. This book was such an amazing finale to the story of Lyra and, later, Will. Let me try to give an impression of the book without spoiling anything for anyone that has not already finished it, so bare with me a bit.

This final book in the "His Dark Materials" series is the conclusion, therefore it stands to reason that everything is put to rights in this last book. And I must say that when the reader first picks up the novel they are reassured by it's thickness that every loose end with be tied up nicely and neatly for the reader. However, I am not sure that is necessarily the case. While yes there is a major battle, Lyra and Will accomplish the missions they have been given, and certain truths are discovered as well as how to fix them, the ending is left just open enough for the reader to fill in the blanks how they may want to. This isn't to say that the author left it hanging, no, but he does not make the fatal error of saying "Will went on to. . ." or "Lyra then. . . " which I think sometimes ruins a stories ending. The reader should be allowed to feel the way things should have ended is exactly how they did. The author's job stops at a certain point so to speak.

In the first two books I felt twisted and turned around so much that for a while I wasn't sure that the last book was going to be able to answer all the little questions that I had building up, but not only does Pullman manage to straighten everything out, he does so in such good form that it doesn't feel like the reader is spoon fed all the bits or overwhelmed with it all in one revieling moment. Each answer is placed right when it is needed and it all makes perfect sense as the answers appear!

This is all a round about way of saying that Pullman is such an excellent writer! I lvoed the story, the characters, and, obviously, his style of writing. These books can often be found in the young adult section, but as an adult I loved them! I plan on reading them to my children sometime in the next year or so, knowing that even though they may be young they will be able to understand everything as Pullman does an incredible job with his imagery and storytelling abilities. This is such an amazing series and I agree that it is becoming a classic!

So get your hands on a copy as soon as you can, if you have not already read them. And if you have read the books I see no harm in rereading them! I look forward to being able to enjoy them once more with my children!

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