Fantasy: His Dark Materials (trilogy) by Philip Pullman.

The Golden Compass, The Amber Spyglass and The Subtle Knife. Our August 2010 challenge book. Re-reads for both of us.


It was such a joy to re-read these. They’re all splendid novels in their own right, as well as building on each other in really great ways. Neither one of us could put them down. We were also both happy to find so much fresh about them–so many little things that we had forgotten and thus could enjoy anew–apparently we had left just the right amount of time between re-reads!
DadReaction: I couldn’t put it down. I loved the way he played off the three books, tacking a different tack each time, especially saving our world for the middle one.

GirlReaction: Yeah there were so many cool ideas in each one. I was surprised at how much I had forgotten in the third book.

DadReaction: Yeah those two angels–I had blanked those guys out completely and really forgotten about some of the supernatural stuff. Loved the witches. Lee Scoresby’s death is just so wild. It’s funny how fantasty can just take you down as bad as anything. Even when his rabbit daemon dies…OW. It’s like your dog dying. Or when Lyra leaves Pan on the Wharf? That was almost enough to make me pitch the book out the window!

GirlReaction: Ugh, those scenes were horrible. But how amazing is just the idea of the daemon? How perfect it seems, and how after reading them, you wish you had one, you wonder what yours would be, you think about that bit of yourself that the daemons represent.

DadReaction: Yeah like when she meets Will and he doesn’t have one…but then they switch worlds and he does. And there’s the the fact that you could actually have a conversation with the daemon, that other part of yourself. Also very cool how he works in the idea that they solidify their form later: as you become your real self. They’re something beneath who you think you might want to be, and it becomes a real partnership.

They’re really novels of curiosity: Lyra, Will, the Scientists, everybody experimenting and discovering. And how spooky were the parents? I really liked how complex they were: not just bad or good. They sort of act for good in the end, after letting loose all this mayhem. So much is the kids trying to understand them, and getting foiled by both of them really.

I had forgotten that whole journey through the underworld–kind of like Dante in Hell. I did, however, remember that horrifying part where the teacher got lost in the other world. You know, I really hate abandonment stories, or stories where people can’t get home, so the first read that was really harrowing for me–like watching Alice in Wonderland. I was able to enjoy those people a lot more this time around because I knew she would get out of there.

GirlReaction: Oh and how cool are those animals with the wheels? Pullman has so many ideas around the edges of this story that could be entire fantasy worlds in and of themselves.

DadReaction: Yeah I also loved those little waspy spies!

Two thumbs way up. 🙂

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