08-23-2007 11:27 PM - last edited on 10-25-2007 02:11 PM by Jessica
About His Dark Materials
Readers coming to Pullman's three-volume His Dark Materials for the first time, will find themselves nearly overwhelmed with the imaginative power of this epic-scale adventure. Quick-witted Lyra Belacqua's journey begins in a world both familiar and strange -- a version of England where life is governed by an authoritarian Church, and scholars work in a strange mixture of science, theology, and something that resembles magic. Propelled on a quest to save a stolen child, she finds herself an excursion through multiple realities -- and must use her considerable talents to their full extent if she hopes to survive. As Lyra and her allies attempt to unravel the mysteries that surround them, they are swept up in a cosmic struggle between forces that battle over nothing less important than the fate of the universe.
Drawing on a diverse array of literary sources -- including Milton's epic Paradise Lost and the visionary work of William Blake -- Pullman's monumental work of fantasy is as thought-provoking and philosophically rich as it is fun to read.
Volume 1: The Golden Compass
In The Golden Compass, orphaned Lyra Belacqua lives a carefree life among the scholars at Oxford's Jordan College -- but the tranquility of her existence is soon shattered by the arrival of two powerful visitors. First, her fearsome uncle, Lord Asriel, appears with evidence of mystery and danger in the far North, including photographs of a mysterious celestial phenomenon called Dust and the dim outline of a city suspended in the Aurora Borealis that he suspects is part of an alternate universe. He leaves Lyra in the care of the enigmatic and bewitching Mrs. Coulter, who offers to give Lyra the attention her uncle has long refused her. In this multilayered narrative, however, nothing is as it seems. Lyra sets out for the top of the world in search of her kidnapped playmate, Roger, bearing a rare truth-telling instrument, the compass of the title. All around her children are disappearing -- victims of so-called "Gobblers" -- and being used as subjects in terrible experiments. And somehow, Lyra learns, both Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter are involved.
Volume 2: The Subtle Knife
The powerful second installment in the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy continues the chronicling of Lyra Silvertongue's quest to find the origins of Dust -- the very stuff of the universe. The first chapter is vintage Pullman: gorgeous imagery, pulse-pounding action, the baiting of readers' affections as they meet Will, 12, who is trying to protect his emotionally fragile mother and to locate his lost father, an explorer who vanished years before. Instead, Will finds a window into another world, where Lyra and her daemon have also tumbled. That world holds the talisman of the subtle knife, which can cut through anything, even the space between worlds. It wounds Will, but he is bound to it by a destiny neither he nor Lyra (nor readers) yet understand. The witches of Lyra's world, the scientists of Will's, the passionately evil Mrs. Coulter (Lyra's mother), and Lyra's champion Lee Scoresby seek the source of the disorder in the worlds and shimmering spaces that connect them. Angels that bless and Specters that eat the wills of adults appear; tantalizing glimpses of the past and future abound; the whole is presented in a rush of sensuous detail that moves and entrances. Pullman has so intricately woven the textures of the two books that the outlines of the first are clearly recapitulated in the second, making it possible to read this one alone. (Kirkus Reviews)
Volume 3: The Amber Spyglass
The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of trilogy to a heartstopping conclusion, marking the final volume as the most powerful of the three. Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Brynison the armored bear comes a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Chevalier Tialys and Lady Salmakia, hand-high spy-masters to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. So, too, come startling revelations: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk though the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live -- and who will die -- for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that -- in its shocking outcome -- will uncover the secret of Dust. Here, Pullman deftly weaves the cliffhangers and mysteries of the first two volumes into an earth-shattering conclusion, and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic.
About Philip Pullman
Pullman was born in Norwich, England, in 1946. With his family moving to several different parts of the world, he was educated in England, Zimbabwe and Australia, and Wales. After studying English at Exeter College, Oxford University, he went on to become a teacher at Oxford Middle Schools and, later, his alma mater, Exeter College of Oxford.
His first book for children, Count Karlstein, was published in 1982, and was followed by a quartet of adventures set in the Victorian era, featuring the young heroine Sally Lockhart. In 1995, Northern Lights (The Golden Compass in the U.S.) was published to great acclaim, winning the Carnegie Medal for children's fiction in the U.K. It was followed by The Subtle Knife in 1997 and The Amber Spyglass (the conclusion of the trilogy, collectively titled His Dark Materials) in 2000. The Amber Spyglass was awarded both the 2001 Whitbread Prize for Best Children's Book, and later was awarded the Whitbread Book of the Year, the first work for children that had been so honored.
The author of more than two dozen books, Pullman was honored in 2004 with an investiture into the Order of the British Empire. He was the 2002 recipient of the Eleanor Farjeon Award for children's literature, and in 2005 was announced as joint winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's literature.
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Message Edited by Jessica on 10-25-2007 02:11 PM