Mini Reviews: His Dark Materials Trilogy

Mini Reviews: His Dark Materials Trilogy

For this set of mini reviews I’m going to talk about the His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman. I’ve been intrigued by this series for some time and after purchasing the ebooks over a year ago, finally decided to dig in and (more or less) marathon my way through them. Here is the blurb for the first book, The Golden Compass (published as Northern Lights in some countries), and read on for my (spoiler-free) thoughts on all three books.

What Lyra likes best is “clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing 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.”

But Lyra’s carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust.

Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from “gyptians“ to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

section separatorThe Golden Compass, by Philip PullmanThe Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Published by Random House Childrens Books on November 13, 2001 (originally published July 9th 1995)

Series: His Dark Materials, #1

Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, young adult

Format & Length: e-book, 333

Source: purchased

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

“But you cannot change what you are, only what you do.”

While The Golden Compass wasn’t my favorite book I’ve ever read, it was both interesting and entertaining. The world building was intriguing, as well as some of the themes it explored, like science versus religion, politics, and the exploration of different cultures and how they interact. The idea of multiple universes is also set up in a unique way and I’m curious to see how that continues to develop with the rest of the series. I don’t think this would be something I’d reread but I’m glad to have read it once and look forward to see what happens in the rest of the trilogy.

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The Subtle Knife, by Philip PullmanThe Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on November 13, 2001 (originally published July 22nd 1997)

Series: His Dark Materials, #2

Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, young adult

Format & Length: e-book, 273

Source: purchased

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

“You think things have to be possible? Things have to be true!”

There was a something about The Subtle Knife that had me enjoying it more than The Golden Compass. I haven’t been able to put my finger quite on why but it felt a bit more readable; perhaps I was simply more used to the writing style. I also enjoyed the way the ideas of multiple universes and dark matter were further explored in this book. And the inclusion of another main character helped to round the story out more. That all being said, I still don’t know that I’d ever want to reread this trilogy as of yet. This was an interesting read if not in the category of my favorites.

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The Amber Spyglass, by Philip PullmanThe Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Published by Random House Children’s Books on November 13, 2001 (originally published October 10th 2000)

Series: His Dark materials, #3

Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, young adult

Format & Length: e-book, 436

Source: purchased

Find on Goodreads

Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

“And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are.”

The Amber Spyglass continues to explore the intriguing ideas presented in the first two books and rounds out this coming of age story nicely. However, this book is decidedly longer than the others and it started to feel it. I am glad to have read this series, though, and I’m curious to check out the new prequel series. If I’d read this when I was younger this probably would have made a more lasting impression on me, but as an adult I’m happy to have read it once and move on.

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So, there you have my mini reviews of the His Dark Materials trilogy! Did you read these books? What did you think about them?

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