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ConnieAnnKirk
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THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapters 1-5

[ Edited ]
Use this thread to discuss general plot points from Chapters 1-5. The chapters are:

1: "The Cat and the Hornbeam Trees"

2: "Among the Witches"

3: A Children's World"

4: "Trepanning"

5: "Airmail Paper"

Please avoid spoilers in this thread by not giving away plot points from Chapters 6-15 in THE SUBTLE KNIFE or anything at all from THE AMBER SPYGLASS. It's ok to assume readers have read THE GOLDEN COMPASS in discussions here.

Enjoy!

~ConnieK

Message Edited by ConnieK on 10-01-2007 11:38 AM
~ConnieAnnKirk




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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapters 1-5

Do you find the beginning of the novel somewhat jarring after reading THE GOLDEN COMPASS? What is the effect of seeing familiar things such as cell phones (p. 7) and Burger King (p. 13) on your sense of time and place so far?

~ConnieK
~ConnieAnnKirk




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maxcat
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 1

I found it quite confusing at first and figured that Will was from a more modern world. It's interesting the way he meets Lyra and has to show her different implements to use such as a can opener. She finds that he is a murderer but that doesn't seem to bother her in the least.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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maxcat
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 2

Now we return to the witches and the daemons and of course Mrs. Coulter. Cruel, conniving and cold hearted. I would imagine that this is a time change also as everyone has daemons in this chapter. But we must keep up with Serafina and find out what she is doing about finding Lyra.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Nadine
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 2


maxcat wrote:
Now we return to the witches and the daemons and of course Mrs. Coulter. Cruel, conniving and cold hearted. I would imagine that this is a time change also as everyone has daemons in this chapter. But we must keep up with Serafina and find out what she is doing about finding Lyra.




Hi maxicat,

I don't think this is a time change but parallel worlds in the same time. They are the same but different. Will's world is definitely ours. Lyra's world is similar but it has had a different "history" so somethings have developed in her world that are familiar to us and other things have not. She knows electricity but not refrigerators. Her world also has had a slightly different "evolution" with external daemons, witches, and talking bears. Ci'gazze seems more like Will's world but not as built up. They don't meet at the same geographical locations though we know, at least, there is an Oxford in both Will's and Lyra's world. Lyra entered via the North Pole, Will through Oxford, and their central meeting place is in Ci'gazze which seems Mediterranean.

The disruption in continuity seems to be characteristic of the Subtle Knife and I think it might be a deliberate change in book style to put us in the different and slightly changed universes created by the disruption caused by Lord Asriel. We are in the same state of confusion as the bridging of the different worlds caused. I have not read A Voyage to Arcturus yet but the concept of the world in the SK might be influenced by that book.

There is suddenly a lot to sort out here. The story is getting far more complex than it was in the GC. I will have to think through this sudden shift in reality. I'm a little lost as well.
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Nadine
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3

Has anyone notice the similarities between the Specters and the Dementors of Harry Potter? I don't know fantasy/horror books very well but I wonder if there is a common traditional source for both.
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3

I noticed the similiarity, too, Nadine! I don't know of a common source, though there very well may be one. Perhaps JKR is borrowing from Pullman?

~Connie



Nadine wrote:
Has anyone notice the similarities between the Specters and the Dementors of Harry Potter? I don't know fantasy/horror books very well but I wonder if there is a common traditional source for both.


~ConnieAnnKirk




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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 2

This is a very insightful comment, Nadine! I think you might be right. The reader becomes disoriented, just like the characters.

~ConnieK



Nadine wrote, in part:
The disruption in continuity seems to be characteristic of the Subtle Knife and I think it might be a deliberate change in book style to put us in the different and slightly changed universes created by the disruption caused by Lord Asriel. We are in the same state of confusion as the bridging of the different worlds caused. ...There is suddenly a lot to sort out here. The story is getting far more complex than it was in the GC. I will have to think through this sudden shift in reality. I'm a little lost as well.


~ConnieAnnKirk




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Nadine
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3


ConnieK wrote:
I noticed the similiarity, too, Nadine! I don't know of a common source, though there very well may be one. Perhaps JKR is borrowing from Pullman?

~Connie



Nadine wrote:
Has anyone notice the similarities between the Specters and the Dementors of Harry Potter? I don't know fantasy/horror books very well but I wonder if there is a common traditional source for both.







I don't think so. Pullman's copyright date for SK is 1997 and Rowling's for PoA is 1999. Rowling planned her books way in advance, especially the major story lines. She would have been well into the writing of PoA before the SN was published. That is why I think there might be a common source in folklore or something, like vampires, werewolves, goblins, etc.
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Nadine
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3/Specters


Nadine wrote:

ConnieK wrote:
I noticed the similiarity, too, Nadine! I don't know of a common source, though there very well may be one. Perhaps JKR is borrowing from Pullman?

~Connie



Nadine wrote:
Has anyone notice the similarities between the Specters and the Dementors of Harry Potter? I don't know fantasy/horror books very well but I wonder if there is a common traditional source for both.







I don't think so. Pullman's copyright date for SK is 1997 and Rowling's for PoA is 1999. Rowling planned her books way in advance, especially the major story lines. She would have been well into the writing of PoA before the SN was published. That is why I think there might be a common source in folklore or something, like vampires, werewolves, goblins, etc.




I did a bit of research but Specters is a difficult search. This site gives a good explanation but unfortunately I do not understand all the abbreviations.

http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/Roleplayer/Roleplayer18/Specters.html

I have some difficulty reading and responding to the board because of the light type, outlines and glare of the new "pretty" format, so my postings may be sporadic for awhile until they fix it. The complaint has been communicated to the powers that be. I will try to drop in and post in short visits, though.
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3


Nadine wrote:
Has anyone notice the similarities between the Specters and the Dementors of Harry Potter? I don't know fantasy/horror books very well but I wonder if there is a common traditional source for both.




To some extent, both are stock characters: soul-devouring ghouls. But Rowling and Pullman mention different sources for their respective versions.

Rowling says her Dementors grew out of her experience with depression. The Dementors drain "drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them." That's what reduces their victims to a mindless shell.

Pullman has explained that his Specters were partially inspired by his reading of William Blake. In Blake's work there are many instances of "Spectres," part of an individual's soul that can become separate from the whole when people try to create what Blake saw as an artificial division between good and evil. Blake's Spectre is the part of the soul that's devoted to purely to reason. Blake describes it as "craving and devouring," and "a murderer of its own Body."

It's important to remember that Pullman's Specters aren't exactly the same as Blake's Spectres. Pullman has made up his own explanation for his invention. What he says about Specters in HDM is what's relevant to the story. To avoid spoilers, I won't go into it more here.
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3

Thanks David and Nadine! I'd forgotten that the novels themselves talk more about Specters later in the series. And I've got to line up my timelines of JKR and Pullman! I might just be thinking that, overall, Pullman's series was completed before JKR's. JKR began planning/writing HP back in 1990 and planned the 7 books out in advance. I haven't lined that up against Pullman. David, is there a history somewhere of the timing of his process for HDM?

~ConnieK
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3


ConnieK wrote:
... I've got to line up my timelines of JKR and Pullman... JKR began planning/writing HP back in 1990 and planned the 7 books out in advance. I haven't lined that up against Pullman. David, is there a history somewhere of the timing of his process for HDM?

~ConnieK


I think Pullman was writing the trilogy by 1993, having conceived it a couple of years earlier. Amber Spyglass was published in the UK in 1995, and Subtle Knife in 1997. Rowling's bout with depression (or if there was more than one, then the one that had something to do with the Dementors) was in 1994, I think. Azkaban appeared there in 1999.

BUT, unless Rowling has said she was influenced by Pullman, I'd just put this down to two writers using stock ideas in their own ways.
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maxcat
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 3

The spectors were briefly mentioned in this chapter but it seems they will be forthcoming in later chapters. I like the fact that Lyra goes back to Oxford only to find a completely different and Jordan College is no longer. This really messes up her plans to find out about Dust.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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maxcat
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 4

I found this chapter to be quite interesting as it talks about trepanning only for a short while and then Lyra finds someone who might help her with Dust oras the lady called, Shadows or Dark Matter. She wants Lyra to come back to her lab the next day and Lyra is suspicious that this might be a trap, but she agrees. In the meantime, Will is trying to find out about his missing father who went on an expedition up North and the whole team disappeared. He also fears for his life in seeing the man that broke into his house before he crossed into ci'gazze.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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maxcat
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 5

Will finds his father's letters to his mother and reads them. They give him a clue as to where his father was up North and that they had heard of a window that goes to another world. Will hopes to meet his dad someday when he finds him.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 5

I find myself drawn to Will's desire to protect his mother. Maybe that's because I'm the mom of sons! :smileywink:

~ConnieK
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maxcat
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapter 5

Yes, I agree. Will does have the desire to protect his mom. Lyra tells him she is safe as the alethiometer told her. Will didn't like Lyra looking into his personal life and told her so.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Nadine
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Re: THE SUBTLE KNIFE -- Chapters 1-5

There is definitely a change is the format of the SK from GC. Each chapter seems to focus on a different major character--and there are several now besides Lyra, who dominated the first book. We are experiencing the situation only from their eyes and their point of view. There is also a change in the center of intention. The first chapter is Will's chapter and it looks like SK will be his story. After his first encounter with Lyra, this feisty and independent leader of all is suddenly reduced in rank, and quite willingly, to be the second in command. She follows Will's orders, gives way to his judgment and drops her major objective in favor of his.

The second chapter is Serafina Pekkala's chapter and we follow her back in Lyra's world as she goes from one encounter to another trying to sort out what has happened.

The third belongs to Will and Lyra again as well as the fourth but in the fourth, Trapanning, we also switch our focus between the two children as each has their own encounters separate from the other. Airmail Paper is again Will's Chapter.

We are also learning a lot more, even in the first few chapters, of where the story is headed and what previously puzzling things are about. In the GC we only had a few hints and were left with more of a vague mystery. And we learn pretty early on that Will and Lyra are going to be very important players in saving the world. This is a far different story than the one in GC of a young girl going on an adventure to the north to save her playmate.
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