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Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed "The Golden Compass." Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of Cittagazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed "The Golden Compass." Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of Cittagazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably entwined when Lyra's alethiometer gives her a simple command: find Will's father. Their search is plagued with obstacles--some familiar and some horribly new and unfathomable--but it eventually brings them closer to Will's father and to the Subtle Knife, a deadly, magical, ancient tool that cuts windows between worlds. Through it all, Will and Lyra find themselves hurtling toward the center of a fierce battle against a force so awesome that leagues of mortals, witches, beasts, and spirits from every world are uniting in fear and anger against it. This breathtaking sequel will leave readers eager for the third and final volume of "His Dark Materials."


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Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed "The Golden Compass." Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of Cittagazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed "The Golden Compass." Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of Cittagazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably entwined when Lyra's alethiometer gives her a simple command: find Will's father. Their search is plagued with obstacles--some familiar and some horribly new and unfathomable--but it eventually brings them closer to Will's father and to the Subtle Knife, a deadly, magical, ancient tool that cuts windows between worlds. Through it all, Will and Lyra find themselves hurtling toward the center of a fierce battle against a force so awesome that leagues of mortals, witches, beasts, and spirits from every world are uniting in fear and anger against it. This breathtaking sequel will leave readers eager for the third and final volume of "His Dark Materials."

30 review for The Subtle Knife Full Cast Audiobook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jayson

    (A-) 81% | Very Good Notes: Changes direction from the last book, expanding the mythology and affirming religion as the key theme of the series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    The second entry in a trilogy is often, in my opinion, the best. The author doesn't have to introduce the universe or the characters, as they did in the first installment, but they don't need to worry about wrapping up all the plot points either. Instead, the focus can be on 'the good stuff': elaborating on the story, teasing us more, giving action, chopping off Luke's hand and so on. Instead of the good stuff, in The Subtle Knife I feel as though we've had a bait and switch pulled on us. In The The second entry in a trilogy is often, in my opinion, the best. The author doesn't have to introduce the universe or the characters, as they did in the first installment, but they don't need to worry about wrapping up all the plot points either. Instead, the focus can be on 'the good stuff': elaborating on the story, teasing us more, giving action, chopping off Luke's hand and so on. Instead of the good stuff, in The Subtle Knife I feel as though we've had a bait and switch pulled on us. In The Golden Compass, we were treated to a rich alternate universe that had elements that were similar to our own, like some of the geopolitical structure, and elements that were entirely fantastical, like armored polar bears and witches. The Subtle Knife, however decides that most of this is insignificant and takes place almost entirely in different universes. It seems like Philip Pullman wanted to reel us in with fantasy before he could preach at us. Some of these elements are expanded upon in The Amber Spyglass, which I'm currently reading, so forgive me if they don't all apply. I had heard before I started the series that they were 'about killing God.' This seemed highly unlikely, and was probably a knee-jerk reaction from people who heard it from other people who read a synopsis of the book, etc. But... no. Some of the main characters have decided to wage war on 'The Authority.' Herein lies my main concern with the series as a whole: it's not (excuse the pun) subtle. I'm an agnostic, so these complaints don't come from someone insulted by the material, they come from someone unhappy by their handling. I love plots that put a spin on traditional religion (Waiting for the Galactic Bus, for example), but it seems like Pullman came up with a story involving a culture's religion and then decided to make it fit with the Judeo-Christian framework no matter how hard he had to push. The concept of Dust is interesting. Adapting it to fit with concepts of physics in our world works because it uses something we only know a little about. Once you try to toss in angels and consciousness and so on (which is insulting in a children's book, as he's claiming that children are entirely self involved until puberty), though, it seems contrived and silly. I may have been more willing to swallow his philosophy, such as it is, if there hadn't been a complete lack of the elements I liked in The Golden Compass: there were no Gyptians, there were no panserbjörne... they seem to make a reappearance in the final book of the series, but why spend so much time on their culture in the first book if you aren't going to include them in the second? (I know that the panserbjörne's culture is basically that of any warrior society, but they're still armored polar bears and the ten year old in me think that's awesome) It's not so much that the book is bad, per se, though I do think it becomes too dark for the age group I initially thought it was written for. I just don't think Pullman is writing for the same reason I want to read: he wants to write religious commentary while I want to read fantasy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs The Ultra Vegan

    When I read this the first time I completely overlooked a main component of the book. I approached it as if was the second book in the series, a massive mistake. I wrote a review criticising the fact that the novel felt awkward; it had no beginning or end: it just felt like the typical content youd find in the middle of the story. The ironic point of this is that most critics take the trilogy as one whole book, rather than three separate works. And this really is the best way to approach the When I read this the first time I completely overlooked a main component of the book. I approached it as if was the second book in the series, a massive mistake. I wrote a review criticising the fact that the novel felt awkward; it had no beginning or end: it just felt like the typical content you’d find in the middle of the story. The ironic point of this is that most critics take the trilogy as one whole book, rather than three separate works. And this really is the best way to approach the story. The Golden Compass is the beginning of it all, the setting of the stage. This, then, is the middling part of the work. The second protagonist of the series, the Adam to Pullman’s Eve, takes the lead here. Initially, I was very resistant to this idea. I had grown to respect Lyra; she’s a really strong heroine, but after a while it started to make sense. Pullman has expanded his story considerably. Lyra has three chapters told from her perspective. The same amount, roughly speaking, is told from the perspective of Will. The rest of the chapters are from side characters of the previous book. So there’s a strong move away from a Lyra centred story. I have mixed feeling about this. It felt like an odd authorial decision. At times this felt like an entirely different series altogether, again, something I eventually got over. There is no sense of closure at the end of this. The first book had a strong ending, but this has very little. This book seemed to be a mere set-up for the next instalment, which makes it rather difficult to review; it’s like picking out the middle bit of a story and trying to criticise it as a separate entity from the rest of it: it’s not easy to do. Any criticism you make are negated by the fact that this is not a separate book: it’s a chunk of a greater work. So I’m going to read the third book before I speak any more about this- I need to see where these elements Pullman added go to. Perhaps a review of all three works together would be the best option. At this moment though, I find the witches one of the most interesting aspects of the work. I’m not entirely sure what to make of them as of yet. Hopefully, the third book will give me all the answers I need. "All through that day the witches came, like flakes of black snow on the wings of a storm, filling the skies with the darting flutter of their silk and the swish of air through the needles of their cloud-pine branches. Men who hunted in the dripping forests or fished among melting ice-floes heard the sky-wide whisper through the fog, and if the sky was clear they would look up to see the witches flying, like scraps of darkness drifting on a secret tide."

  4. 4 out of 5

    ~Poppy~

    Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit. “Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Langford

    4.5**** What is he? A friend, or an enemy?... He is a murderer. This book has the introduction of Will; a young man/boy who is compassionate, caring, brave and a warrior. After a frightening account, Will has to go on the run where he escapes to a different world to the deserted city of Cittagaze, and meets an interesting girl called Lyra Belacqua, her Daemon; Pantalaimon and her ability to read a strange instrument called the alethiometer. This strange world runs parallel to his own. They learn to 4.5**** ”What is he? A friend, or an enemy?”... “He is a murderer.” This book has the introduction of Will; a young man/boy who is compassionate, caring, brave and a warrior. After a frightening account, Will has to go on the run where he escapes to a different world to the deserted city of Cittagaze, and meets an interesting girl called Lyra Belacqua, her Daemon; Pantalaimon and her ability to read a strange instrument called the alethiometer. This strange world runs parallel to his own. They learn to begin to trust each other and their fates become intertwined, each relying on their developing friendship, courage and bravery. They discover strange mishaps in this strange city and learn of a powerful weapon- the subtle knife that is so powerful it can cut through worlds. A knife that will only respond to the hand intended to wield it. Like the first book, this was a wonderful literary adventure. This book takes off where the first book ended and Lyra has travelled to another world, staying in the deserted city alone for a few days before the surprise meeting with Will. I loved the developing dynamics of Will and Lyra’s friendship. This hold more multiple points of view than in the first book, with storylines from Lee Scoresby and Serafina Pekkala especially. This, again contained heartbreak, deaths and dark creatures/story lines. However, there is the brightness of a developing friendship, strong bravery, and many connections between the plot lines are made and fit into place.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2), Philip Pullman The Subtle Knife, the second book in the His Dark Materials series, is a young-adult fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman and published in 1997. The novel continues the adventures of Lyra Belacqua as she investigates the mysterious Dust phenomenon and searches for her father. Will Parry is introduced as a companion to Lyra, and together they explore the new realms to which they have both been introduced. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2), Philip Pullman The Subtle Knife, the second book in the His Dark Materials series, is a young-adult fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman and published in 1997. The novel continues the adventures of Lyra Belacqua as she investigates the mysterious Dust phenomenon and searches for her father. Will Parry is introduced as a companion to Lyra, and together they explore the new realms to which they have both been introduced. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه آگوست سال 2008 میلادی عنوان: نیروی اهریمنی اش کتاب دوم - خنجر ظریف؛ نویسنده: فلیپ پولمن؛ مترجم: فرزاد فربد؛ تهران، کتاب پنجره، 1384، 1385، ؛ سری سه گانه «نیروی اهریمنی اش» در ایران در پنج مجلد چاپ شده: ک‍ت‍اب‌ اول‌ شامل دو مجلد ب‍خ‍ش‌ اول‌ و دوم، عنوان: س‍پ‍ی‍ده‌ ی‌ ش‍م‍ال‍ی‌؛ جلد سوم همین ک‍ت‍اب‌ دوم‌، عنوان: خ‍ن‍ج‍ر ظری‍ف‌؛ و جلد چهارم و پنجم، عنوان: دورب‍ی‍ن‌ ک‍ه‍رب‍ای‍ی‌ یک و دو؛ خنجر ظریف، دومین بخش از سه گانه ی «نیروی اهریمنی اش» است. پسری به نام: «ویل»، که مادری عصبی دارد، به دنبال پدرش، «جان پری»، از پنجره‌ ای درون هوا می‌گذرد، و به «چیتاگاتزه» وارد می‌شود. اشباح، بزرگسالان «چیتاگاتزه» را، از بین برده‌ اند، و او طی رخدادهایی با «لایرا» آشنا شده، و حامل «خنجر ظریف» می‌شود. «لی اسکورسبی» هوانورد، «جان پری»، یا «استانیسلاوس گرومن» را، از میان تاتارها برده، و خود کشته می‌شود و رخدادهای دیگر...؛ ا. شربیانی

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I am not a fan of forwarded emails. They frustrate me, because they usually come from the same group of people, people I like a great deal but who never send me a normal "hey, how's it going?" message. Just "Support our Troops" or "Tell every woman you know she's special" or "Microsoft is running a test and if you send this you could get a check for $1,000!" When I see the letters FWD in the subject line, I usually simply delete it. I lost track of the number of emails I received telling me about I am not a fan of forwarded emails. They frustrate me, because they usually come from the same group of people, people I like a great deal but who never send me a normal "hey, how's it going?" message. Just "Support our Troops" or "Tell every woman you know she's special" or "Microsoft is running a test and if you send this you could get a check for $1,000!" When I see the letters FWD in the subject line, I usually simply delete it. I lost track of the number of emails I received telling me about the Anti-God movie The Golden Compass and the need to boycott the movies and the books. It was well over ten. Ten people wanted me to send that email on to everyone I know, telling them the same thing. Don't see this movie! Don't read these books! Alert! Alert! Alert! Nothing like calling attention to something like a planned boycott. I haven't seen the movie, because I'm cheap and it's not something I'd take my kids to or something I'd be prone to see anyway, but as I had already read the first book in the series, enjoyed it and hadn't found it to be Anti-God, I was curious to read the next to see what the fuss was all about. I don't know if the emails worked and I read with a bias, but I did not enjoy this second book. Not because it is Anti-God...which it really isn't, but more anti organized religion and organized religion's version of god, but because the writing is bad. Dialogue - choppy. Descriptions - cliched. (how do I get that little accent marking over the e?) Storyline - totally falters. I felt enormously disappointed in the direction of this book. Lyra, the young female protagonist in search of dust and her father, all but disappears in this second story. She still plays a part, but now as the sidekick to Will, a new character who is a giant "young adult fiction" stereotype (in search of the father he never knew while protecting his mother from bad guys and seems to be gifted in the combat department). I don't remember the writing being bad in the first book. I thought it descriptive and unique and thoughtful. Not so, in The Subtle Knife. Pullman changes gears and loses focus. There is a lot more going on and none of it is developed well. I stopped caring about the characters and their goals. I think these books had great potential. There could be a lot to discuss with adolescents (not young children...at all). The nature of the soul, the natural man, the costs and benefits of religions. All appropriate things to discuss with youth ready to question and discover on their own. Pullman takes that conversation away with his lack of metaphor. It becomes impossible to argue, "I think the dust means this." or "what do you think The Authority is for Pullman?" when he throws his opinion at you with real life Christian beliefs. It's inappropriate and unfair. Write a fantasy or a satire or a parable if you want to. Other authors have done it...and done it well. Pullman didn't. I won't be reading the third book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I share this review again in the fall of 2017 as a fourth volume (though Pullman later wrote two companion pieces to the trilogy, entitled Lyra's Oxford, and Once Upon a Time in the North), The Book of Dust, has been released, to encourage all ages to read. As with most great "children's" books, there are a range of levels on which Pullman is working. He's taking on the Roman Catholic view of reality, C.S. Lewis (in The Chronicles of Narnia), and is in conversation with John Milton, whose I share this review again in the fall of 2017 as a fourth volume (though Pullman later wrote two companion pieces to the trilogy, entitled Lyra's Oxford, and Once Upon a Time in the North), The Book of Dust, has been released, to encourage all ages to read. As with most great "children's" books, there are a range of levels on which Pullman is working. He's taking on the Roman Catholic view of reality, C.S. Lewis (in The Chronicles of Narnia), and is in conversation with John Milton, whose Paradise Lost he both loves and contends with in places. But you don't need to know any of that to love this series. This is the middle book in the trilogy, and I like the first and third volumes more, big surprise. More exposition, less action, more trudging to final destinations, but you know, the writing is still exquisite, and it has surprises. One key surprise is that after focusing on Lyra in the first series, this second book opens with a focus on yet another central character, Will. When I first read this I was confused, and more than a little disappointed, as I saw a wonderful strong girl character shoved aside as usually happens in all books for a BOY main character. That isn't quite how things work, really, though, as they share the stage, and they open up new vistas and back stories and new worlds together. This is seen as a sixth grade children's series, but in truth, the older you are, the more you will get out of it, as in all of the greatest "children's stories" of all time, including The Wrinkle in Time, and so on. Pullman is taking on our limited view of "reality"-- he's engaging in physics, theology, anthropology--with a laser beam on the Holy Roman Church in particular. It's not so much an attack on The Church as an exploration of the nature of true religion, and a wider, more generous, less sin-obsessed view of the world. It's a wonderful series, which I listened to while traveling around the country with the family, a wonderfully produced cd series. It's the second volume of a trilogy, so you obviously don't begin here, but you won't regret the time you spend on the adventure. It's awesome. And whether you have read it or not, I recommend this audio version, with Philip Pullman Himself narrating, joined by a wonderful cast of characters.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fabian

    Weird like The Wizard of Oz, magical like Harry Potter, and interesting, totally unlike "Chronicles of Narnia." The symbolism is so agog, so strange... Obviously, it makes for a great young adult novel!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caz (littlebookowl)

    Mmmmk. So I rated this 2.5 stars when I read it a few months ago, and I was unsure if I would finish the series... I've since decided I won't be reading book three. I'm honestly pretty disappointed with a tweet the author posted and his subsequent responses to those who replied, especially his trans readers. In this case, I've decided not to separate the author from the work.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Re-read, 11/5/19: I think I still enjoy the emphasis on the extended worldbuilding in this book more than the flavor of the characters. Lyra is somewhat diminished, unable to shine in the Big Happenings of the first book, relegated either to lying (unsuccessfully) to a relative suburbia world, losing her way, and relying an awful lot on Will, her new friend. Will, on the other hand, is only really interesting when he holds a knife. *shrug* I found all the villains in our tale much more interesting. Re-read, 11/5/19: I think I still enjoy the emphasis on the extended worldbuilding in this book more than the flavor of the characters. Lyra is somewhat diminished, unable to shine in the Big Happenings of the first book, relegated either to lying (unsuccessfully) to a relative suburbia world, losing her way, and relying an awful lot on Will, her new friend. Will, on the other hand, is only really interesting when he holds a knife. *shrug* I found all the villains in our tale much more interesting. And the worldbuilding, of course. Lots of sympathy for the devil stuff going on here. That being said, I'm not sure I really enjoyed this particular alternate-reality hop's direction. Sure, the place is about as subtle (from our world) as the knife from my kitchen drawer, but I also admit I enjoyed the concept of the knife quite a bit. I really enjoyed the worldbuilding in this book more than anything else. Original review: There's less action and a hell of a lot more story-meat in this book. I'm enjoying it immensely, especially for all of the John Milton tones. It also has a beautiful synthesis of anthropology and religion that I can't help but giggle at.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Candace Wynell McHann

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Way back at the end of November/beginning of December of good ol' 2007, I read Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Why? Well, because there was all that talk about how it got made into a movie. I read the book, and found it very thought provoking. As for the movie it's a watered down version of Pullman's work, but not bad for the most part. I mean, I don't think it would go over too well with audiences who haven't read to book to know that Lyra's friend Roger is killed by Lord Asreil and that Way back at the end of November/beginning of December of good ol' 2007, I read Phillip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Why? Well, because there was all that talk about how it got made into a movie. I read the book, and found it very thought provoking. As for the movie it's a watered down version of Pullman's work, but not bad for the most part. I mean, I don't think it would go over too well with audiences who haven't read to book to know that Lyra's friend Roger is killed by Lord Asreil and that Mrs. Coulter actually wants to control Lyra and in The Subtle Knife decide that yeah, she has to die. Just for a quick overview of Phillip Pullman's contraversal work and why it's a contraversy. There are three books in the series called, His Dark Material: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. The title of the series comes from a phrase Milton uses in Paradise Lost, which for those who don't know is a 16th century epic poem about Satan's great Fall from Heaven and the mischief he does in getting Adam and Eve to commit Original Sin. The books are about a rebellious girl named Lyra Belacqua, who comes from a world like the one we know, but is also very different. I guess you could say it's a warped version of the Victorian period. In Lyra's world, people have "deamons," which are external forms of people's soul in the form of animals(Lyra's daemon is named Pantalaimon). She gets a hold of a golden compass, a device called an alethiometer, which at first she doesn't know how to use, but soon finds that it allows her to see into the past, present, and future. There is also the issue of a substance called Dust, which surronds all human life. The Church, also called the Magistrium, a very tyrannical and oppressive hand that acts first and questions later, wants to destroy Dust and Lord Asriel (who we think is Lyra's uncle but, da da da!! it's actually her father). Mrs. Coulter, being a very powerful figure in the Church, tries to seduce Lyra in a world of privilge but soon realizes that Mrs. Coulter is trying to control her. Lyra, being a free spirit, doesn't take kindly to this. So she runs away, meeting up with gyptians, where she learns to read the althieometer; gets badass texan named Lee Scoresby (and his daemon Hester)talking armored bear named Iorek Byrnison to work with her; she gets kidnapped by Tarters and sent to Bolvanger discovers the sinister secret of the Church: they cut daemons and children apart in a process known as intercision and finds that Mrs. Coulter (who is da da da!! her mother!) is in charge of the whole operation; plans an escape for all the childern where she mets the witch queen, Serafina Pekkela, and the queen helps Lyra on her quest to find her father; and her friend Roger is killed by her own father Lord Asriel which results in the creatation of a bridge from his world into another. The story ends with a very pissed off Lyra following Lord Asriel into the new world. So yeah, a lot to take in. I just gave an overview! There are so many carefully thought out details that I have left out. For example: as a child, their daemon's have the ability to change from animal to animal. When the child reaches to adulthood, their daemons settle into one animal. Very cool right? So, what's the contraversy all about? One: Phillip Pullman is an out spoken atheist. Two: His Dark Materials are catagorized as childrens books. Three: You find out in The Subtle Knife that the big plan is to kill God. Yeah. The Subtle Knife introduces Will, who stummbles across a window to city called Cittàgazze on another world. There he meets Lyra. I would explain more, but you've already put up with me talking about the first book, so let me sum up for you by what the back of the book says: "In this stunning sequel to The Golden Compass, the intrepid Lyra find herself in the simmering, hauinted otherworld-cittagazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingsbeats of angels sound against the sky. But she in not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, feeling for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm. On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will uncover a deadly secret: an object of extraordinary and devasting power. And with every step,they move closer to an even greater threat-and the shattering truth of their own destiny." I know you want to read it now just see what happens. Anyway, it's very amazing and disturbing and fantasic and all those things. I just finished reading The Subtle Knife today so I have yet to read The Amber Spyglass. When I do, I'll let you know. But why are these books good and why is Pullman on my Influential Writers list along with Donne, Plath, and Hemingway? Because he wrote a children's book version of Milton's Paradise Lost! Have you ever read it? Holy Crap! I had to read it twice while I was in college. Don't get me wrong. It's awesome. It is awe inspiring. Everyone should read it. But damnit, it's long and can be a little hard to read if you don't have someone there explaining it or Cliff Notes. In Milton's poem, Satan leads an army of rebellious angels in an attempt to overthrow God. The attempt fails, and Satan and his followers are cast out of heaven. Satan, seeking revenge, convinces God's creations, Adam and Eve, to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, thus causing their fall from grace. In Pullman's take on Paradise Lost, God is an oppressive, senile old man, and Satan is a dashing heroic figure. But the real hero and centerpiece of Pullman's story is the Eve figure, Lyra Belacqua, on whom the salvation of the universe depends. Really? A children's book? Wow! That's what I said. So I raise my glass of Cranberry-Pomagrante Crystal Lite and vodka to Phillip Pullman for being the writer I want to be: original, brave, and honest. And to go off an a rant real quick: How can people protest and get all up in arms when they haven't even read/watched what they are getting upset about? Understandably, if you read Pullman's His Dark Materials, and you are against it, awesome. You know what are you talking about. I got really upset when people started attacking the movie without having read the book or even seen the movie. How do I know? Well, because I asked. Are people so afraid to have their ideology put into question? Do they not want to think critically, analyze what they believe in? I love being challenged. Good lord, what else do I have to do intellectualy until I light a fire under my ass and get my teaching certificate? It's okay to question what your faith and your beliefs. It allows you to see how strong you are in the decisions you have made. Sorry about that last rant there...but that had been building up for a while. Not just from Pullman's work, but also from a few other things that I would talk about but this blog is already long enough. Well, I hope you enjoyed me getting my nerd on. It was a blast! Ciao, darlings!!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy | shoutame

    The second in the trilogy and possibly my favourite out of the three.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shayantani

    Two very strange things happened last week. I gave I Am Half Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel two stars and am now giving this book five star. It is strange because the former books protagonist, my dear Flavia De Luce is my favorite obstinate pre teen. On the contrary, Lyra, another stubborn, precocious, pre-teen absolutely annoyed me in the previous book. Right now though, I can not for the life of me imagine why I did not like the first novel and Lyra. Well, at least I adore her right Two very strange things happened last week. I gave I Am Half Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel two stars and am now giving this book five star. It is strange because the former book’s protagonist, my dear Flavia De Luce is my favorite obstinate pre teen. On the contrary, Lyra, another stubborn, precocious, pre-teen absolutely annoyed me in the previous book. Right now though, I can not for the life of me imagine why I did not like the first novel and Lyra. Well, at least I adore her right now. Philip Pullman is a genius. I loved every aspect of this book, the concept, the characterization, the plot, the pacing, everything. I remember thinking that the last book was rather boring, but this part had me catching my breath. Specters, rebel angels, parallel universe, golden compasses and subtle knives, daemons and witches- each chapter keeps you hooked and also provide fodder for the brain to muse about. I love the anti CS Lewis atmosphere of the book. The characters were another high point in this novel. Lyra Belacqua reappears with her daemon Pantalaimon and although she doesn’t play as central a role as the previous novel, she is absolutely charming. I can not wait to find out the form Pantalaimon will finally take. Marisa Coulter and Serafina Pekkala are back and as interesting as ever. Lee Scoresby and his daemon are absolutely heart breaking. A bandwagon of new and amazing characters like Stanislaus Grumman, Will Parry, Mary Malone is introduced. The friendship between Will and Lyra and Will and Pantalaimon were some of the best parts of the story. I would read the next book just to meet all these characters again. I am so glad I already have a copy of the next part. After that abrupt ending and the revelation about Lyra towards the end, having to wait for the next part would have been sheer torture. I never thought I would say this, but Flavia really is in grave danger of being dethroned as my favorite.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Just as fantastic all these years later. Still shocking, still clever, still more grown up than a lot of 'adult' books out there. This book doesn't shy away, doesn't talk down, and definitely doesn't disappoint.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit. I find it tough to rate this. On the one hand, it started off great. On the other hand, there are now quite a few POVs, some I care about, some I don't, and the world has literally been blown apart and expanded. I think I somehow prefer reading fantasy set in our world, maybe because it lends the reality I “Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.” I find it tough to rate this. On the one hand, it started off great. On the other hand, there are now quite a few POVs, some I care about, some I don't, and the world has literally been blown apart and expanded. I think I somehow prefer reading fantasy set in our world, maybe because it lends the reality I live in a touch of magic. And also because a new fantasy world is unknown territory and that can be scary sometimes. Which is not to say I dislike it. I'm a huge (high) fantasy fan. But I remember reading Inkheart by Cornelia Funke - I never finished reading the final book in the series because most of it was set in the fantasy world whereas the first two books were mainly set in our world. Anyway, all that pondering aside, I liked the beginning and the introduction to the new main character a lot. I liked seeing Lyra in our Oxford and I especially enjoyed the chapters with Mary Malone. Then Will and Lyra found themselves in Cittagazze and I really didn't like that world. The witches and Lee Scoresby got their own chapters and while they obviously added a lot to the story, I preferred reading about Lyra and Will. Honestly, it's super difficult for me to define what exactly I didn't enjoy in The Subtle Knife. The writing is great, the story is original and imaginative. Maybe it's the fact that Lyra's world was already rich enough without the addition of dozens of alternate universes. I enjoyed Lyra's Oxford, and I love reading about Iorek. Maybe it's one of those cases where you read a story and love it but it takes a completely different turn from what you expected and you're just not satisfied with where the plot is going. And additionally, while I think it's an exciting story, there are few characters that I really care about or find interesting. There's Iorek, there is Dr Malone, there is Mrs Coulter, sometimes there's Lyra. But Will doesn't spark any enthusiasm in me, and neither do most of the other characters. Overall, I feel...detached. Maybe that's the right word. I also can't get the fact out of my mind that a year ago, Pullman tweeted about the "trans argument" and didn't know what "side" he should be on. That leaves a very bitter aftertaste and while reading I always wonder whether I should be supporting an author who is so utterly confused about the mere existence of trans people. Find more of my books on Instagram

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    It has been a while since a book last left me with the desire to have my head trepanned and to become a shaman. And I suppose these days it is difficult to get on the training course and who knows if the pension scheme will be all that it was cracked out to be? Reading I thought this business of the human mind and the flow of consciousness through a multiplicity of universes reminded me of something else. As always it takes some days for this kind of thought to percolate down to the answer - I It has been a while since a book last left me with the desire to have my head trepanned and to become a shaman. And I suppose these days it is difficult to get on the training course and who knows if the pension scheme will be all that it was cracked out to be? Reading I thought this business of the human mind and the flow of consciousness through a multiplicity of universes reminded me of something else. As always it takes some days for this kind of thought to percolate down to the answer - I recalled something very similar from Anathem! At first my reaction was how marvellous it was that different authors had read similar things and developed an idea along related lines in parallel book universes, however once I double checked the publication dates I did feel a slight, entirely unwarranted, sourness towards Master Stephenson. In contrast to Northern Lights the story here rans over a much shorter time period, the cast of characters remained large, the deft reworking of Blake, Milton, and the Bible appeared to give away to Dark Matter, consciousness, and multiple universes, while the pace of the book was not maintained by one desperate fight after another. As much as I enjoy Zeppelins and Armoured Bears I appreciated the deployment of colours from a larger palate by the author. Continuing the theme of children in children's literature from my previous review the absence of parents from both Will and Lyra's lives is strikingly traditional. For Will he has had to become the adult figure in relation to his mother - and while the role of child carer is contemporary the fight between father and son each ignorant of the other's identity has a long history although here it is presented with a mild twist on the traditional tale (view spoiler)[ in that one doesn't kill the other (hide spoiler)] . Lyra in a way is a child without parents. Technically there are two people in the story who performed the physical functions both sufficient and necessary for Lyra to exist, but in regard to their behaviour and attitudes terminology such as parent, father, or mother seems cruelly inappropriate. Sometimes I hear the idea of there being for instance, a Catholic Atheist, told as a joke, admittedly I have had my sense of humour surgically removed, but the concept seems an entirely serious one to me. This trilogy is a strong example of it. The author does not share the faith of his ancestors but this is a work that could not exist without a tradition of religious dissent in England from the Geneva Bible, via Milton, and Blake. The power of their faith, the notions of predestination, free will, sin and grace, energise this trilogy. Fantastically, at this mid-way stage the rights and wrongs of rebellion and authority are still from clear cut, leaving the heroes, as every child is left, with untrustworthy, partisan, or uncertain guides as to their course of action.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ro

    In this case, the high rating is not for the actual quality of the book (that is very good btw), but for all that it meant to me while I was growing up.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net

    See this review and more like it on www.bookbastion.net! _____ Last month I read and reviewed The Golden Compass, so I could prepare myself for the HBO/BBC adaptation that will be coming out next year. This was a series that Id missed out on as a kid, and truth be told I was a little bit wary about starting them as an adult. Luckily, the first book in this series knocked my socks off, and this sequel followed in its footsteps and actually improved upon the original in my opinion! The Subtle Knife See this review and more like it on www.bookbastion.net! _____ Last month I read and reviewed The Golden Compass, so I could prepare myself for the HBO/BBC adaptation that will be coming out next year. This was a series that I’d missed out on as a kid, and truth be told I was a little bit wary about starting them as an adult. Luckily, the first book in this series knocked my socks off, and this sequel followed in its footsteps and actually improved upon the original – in my opinion! The Subtle Knife picked up immediately where the first book ended, with Lyra waltzing out of one plane of reality and into another. From page one, Pullman packs this book with near nonstop wonder, intrigue, danger and excitement! It was actually quite surprising to see the ways in which this series has evolved from book one to two. Who knew that a book following a child’s exploration into the arctic alongside her polar bear guardian to find her uncle would turn the tables so many times and end up becoming a universe-hopping fairytale filled with so many memorable characters? One of my absolutely favorite types of fantasy staples is the idea of portal fantasy – a function which allows one character to step from a familiar world into ones that are mysterious, dangerous and filled with wonder. Pullman takes that premise and expands upon it – and no, there’s no blue box required for interdimensional travel. Lyra’s universe has become a multiverse, one in which multiple worlds are converging on top of each other – basically meaning that anything is possible now in terms of where this story is headed. As much as I liked the adventure in the first book, I found this one even more exciting! My main issue with the first book was the way it starts. The reader is dropped right in the middle of a very important scene, given no context for anything and no idea what to consider important or not. It made for a really confusing start. Because the basics have already been told, this book was much clearer and more exciting from page one. The action and plotting felt tighter here, and I was overjoyed at the inclusion of Will – a new character to this book. He was a perfect foil for Lyra. I loved the way that they played off of one another, and how close they became as the result of actions within the plot. The one aspect of this book that I struggled with from time to time is the dialogue. I just don’t really care for the way Pullman has his character’s speak to one another. They’re not so much engaging in dialogue as they are speechifying in long monologues said without pause, and then the next character picks it up right afterwards with a dramatic speech of their own. It seems to be less a fault of the writing than it is a stylistic choice of the narrative though, so I can’t fault it greatly. There are just a few moments during these exchanges that I felt a bit pulled out of things, wondering when the next character was going to speak. Like the last book, this one is surprisingly dark considering it’s marketed for children and teens. There was one surprisingly affecting scene that moved me way more than I expected it to, so good one for you there Mr. Pullman. I’ll guard my heart a bit more carefully going in to book 3! This was a great read. It taught me to expect nothing and absolutely everything in the final book of this series. Can’t wait to start it next month! ★★★★✯ = 4.5 out of 5 stars, rounded up for Goodreads ______ Follow me on Instagram @bookbastion

  20. 4 out of 5

    Annalisa

    What I did like about this book is that it starts with Lyra, a girl we have become acquainted with from another world, meeting Will, a boy from our world. Bringing the fantasy into our own reality was surreal and interesting. But only for a minute and then it became a bore. The story was slow and at some points stopped altogether to allow Pullman his theological preachings of anti-church and anti-god. If the story had been metaphorical I would have enjoyed it more, but it became less fiction and What I did like about this book is that it starts with Lyra, a girl we have become acquainted with from another world, meeting Will, a boy from our world. Bringing the fantasy into our own reality was surreal and interesting. But only for a minute and then it became a bore. The story was slow and at some points stopped altogether to allow Pullman his theological preachings of anti-church and anti-god. If the story had been metaphorical I would have enjoyed it more, but it became less fiction and more essay. In this book, Lyra and Will travel between worlds attempting to find his father and continue on with Lyra's mission. There are a lot of minor characters in too many places spreading the story out too thin to move quickly enough to keep one's attention. Eventually the action picks up as the characters merge, setting the scene for the major battle in book 3, but I was too annoyed with his writing by then to shrug it off. I almost didn't read the third book after this.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Much like the city of Citagazze, The Subtle Knife is the crossroads between Northern Lights and The Amber Spyglass, and as such I think it's unfair to judge it as a single novel. It introduces the wonderful characters of Will and Mary, and brings the whole concept of multiple worlds into play. We also see small hints of the rebellion that will be raged across the worlds, but more importantly we see the beginnings of Lyra and Will. In Will we see someone who's had responsibility thrust upon them Much like the city of Citagazze, The Subtle Knife is the crossroads between Northern Lights and The Amber Spyglass, and as such I think it's unfair to judge it as a single novel. It introduces the wonderful characters of Will and Mary, and brings the whole concept of multiple worlds into play. We also see small hints of the rebellion that will be raged across the worlds, but more importantly we see the beginnings of Lyra and Will. In Will we see someone who's had responsibility thrust upon them unwillingly, forced to deal with issues far beyond the usual imaginings of a 12 year old boy. In Lyra we see a character who's already seen and done extraordinarily things as a child begin to grow into herself, and learn to follow instead of lead. Its really the perfect bridging novel that The Amber Spyglass needs to develop characters and storylines ready for that all important final chapter. Like Dust, and the concept of destiny, it allows the reader to see the 'subtle' threads of connection that will allow certain roads to cross, and situations to happen as if it were always meant to be.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    [May 21, 2019] Reading my original review from seven years ago is wild. I came back to this story and found something completely different here; I found myself completely different. There are still quibbles-- yes, some of the messaging is heavy handed and yes, Pullman's story style and world building is just slow-- but I was so focused on what this story wasn't that I couldn't appreciate what it was. I'll have full thoughts after we cover this on Snark Squad Pod, but for now, I'll say that I'm [May 21, 2019] Reading my original review from seven years ago is wild. I came back to this story and found something completely different here; I found myself completely different. There are still quibbles-- yes, some of the messaging is heavy handed and yes, Pullman's story style and world building is just slow-- but I was so focused on what this story wasn't that I couldn't appreciate what it was. I'll have full thoughts after we cover this on Snark Squad Pod, but for now, I'll say that I'm bumping this up to a 4.5 stars. [October 25, 2012] 3 stars This was hard. I think I should mention a couple of things: I'm reading HDM for the first time as an adult. I really, very much enjoyed The Golden Compass. I come from a religious background, which makes me sympathetic to the faults of organized religion, but I also still firmly believe in God. I started reading the books not because of the "controversy" per se, but more because I have a few dear, dear friends who call this their favorite. I was only vaguely aware of certain anti-religious elements of the story. For me, The Subtle Knife was not as good. The fact that I made it through the end is mostly a testament to my love for Lyra and Pan, and my (small)(but growing)(new) love for Will. I was interested in these characters and kept reading for a chance to know what might happen to them. Pullman, however, made it difficult for me. It wasn't even so much about the religious metaphors per se, but more about the fact that they stopped being metaphors somewhere along the line and became hammers. Anvils. I was in the middle of a sermon before I knew what happened. In book 2, we lose the intrigue of Lyra's world. We lose a lot of possibilities. Yes answers are good, in some cases, but here as we learn for certain what Dust is and what Asriel's mission is and what Lyra's part in it all is, you get tied down and suffocated by Pullman's big ideas which you! must! believe! Even though I was reading about her, I missed Lyra. I missed my brave girl on grand adventures, who cried yes, but was as courageous as any armoured bear. She became something lesser in this book, and I was sorry to see it. I really, really, really missed Pan. He was so absent here, and the beautiful and intricate relationship between Lyra and Pan was mostly gone, perhaps for a reason I'll discover in book 3, but it's absence was felt here. I missed being able to take my own interpretations and apply them to the book. Pullman abandons his clever and well thought out position of communicating his stance on the church through his fantasy world and the Magesterium. He abandons that and the head pounding begins: "That is what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling. So if a war comes, and the Church is on one side of it, we must be on the other, no matter what strange allies we find ourselves bound to." It was just all a bit too heavy handed for me and it weighed the story down, a story that already missed the high mark set in The Golden Compass. I'll keep reading. Mostly for Lyra.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    The strangest thing about Phillip Pullman's The Subtle Knife is that it doesn't feel like the second book in a series, making me wonder whether Pullman first wrote this in conjunction with The Amber Spyglass, then wrote The Golden Compass as a prequel, which then became the first book in the series once they were published. Not that it matters. What matters is that The Subtle Knife is too fast, too plot driven, and too much "a set-up" book to be an effective second book in the trilogy. Second The strangest thing about Phillip Pullman's The Subtle Knife is that it doesn't feel like the second book in a series, making me wonder whether Pullman first wrote this in conjunction with The Amber Spyglass, then wrote The Golden Compass as a prequel, which then became the first book in the series once they were published. Not that it matters. What matters is that The Subtle Knife is too fast, too plot driven, and too much "a set-up" book to be an effective second book in the trilogy. Second books are generally strong because they give the reader a chance to breathe and get to know the characters. Not so in The Subtle Knife. Instead, Pullman introduces new characters, and not just peripheral characters, but Will, a character who seems to be the primary protagonist of His Dark Materials, and Mary, who will create the amber spyglass of the third book. Meanwhile, characters who seemed important in The Golden Compass, Azriel, Iorek and even Lyra are either supporting cast or merely spoken of. Perhaps this would work if the series was longer, if Pullman took more time with his stories, gave us greater detail, but he doesn't. Everything is fast, too fast, and the characters suffer, making it difficult to care about what is happening. The Subtle Knife is definitely a let down after Pullman's quite good The Golden Compass, and I have little hope for The Amber Spyglass, but I will know soon enough since I feel compelled to finish the series. One sidebar: for those who insist on calling this series "atheist," you should understand what atheism is. This series is anti-god, but that means the book MUST NOT be atheist. To be anti-god a story must posit a god, and by assuming the presence of a god (or god-like force) a story cannot be atheist. So there you go.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kinga

    Why, no, I have never read His Dark Materials before. It was not a thing in Poland and after seeing that nonsensical film I was not exactly inspired to read it. However, when I was in New Your a few weeks ago, my friend there practically forced these books on me. And then it got really cold, the water in our pipes froze and reading some good children's fantasy novel seemed like the best idea. This series is definitely improving as it goes on. I liked this better than the first part. The first few Why, no, I have never read His Dark Materials before. It was not a thing in Poland and after seeing that nonsensical film I was not exactly inspired to read it. However, when I was in New Your a few weeks ago, my friend there practically forced these books on me. And then it got really cold, the water in our pipes froze and reading some good children's fantasy novel seemed like the best idea. This series is definitely improving as it goes on. I liked this better than the first part. The first few chapters brought back that feeling of excitement I used to have when starting a new book as a child. Of course it is a lot of fun. But gosh, children book writers are ruthless, aren't they? They just kill the characters willy nilly, as if they were solely responsible for teaching all the children of the world about mortality. Have some mercy on my heart. So while I enjoyed this one better than the first one, I had to take off one star for not so subtle (subtle, ha, ha, see what I did there?) religious symbolism. It's like Narnia in reverse and could we please keep strong religious messages out of children's books? Also, I missed the fully fleshed world from the first book. This world seemed somewhat stunted. But hey, at least Lyra is a lot less annoying here.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Urges

    Love the worldbuilding. Love the themes. Love the argument.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zitong Ren

    3.5 🌟 rounded down to 3 🌟 I understand people may see someone give a three star and think its probably not that great of a book since the rating given is pretty average which is not exactly the case for this book, which was a hairs width away from me rounding it up to a four star, but I had some issues with it and I had to cede that star away. For those who are not aware, I did thoroughly enjoy the first book and gave it a four star, which did mean I was greatly entertained by it. This book was 3.5 🌟 rounded down to 3 🌟 I understand people may see someone give a three star and think it’s probably not that great of a book since the rating given is pretty average which is not exactly the case for this book, which was a hair’s width away from me rounding it up to a four star, but I had some issues with it and I had to cede that star away. For those who are not aware, I did thoroughly enjoy the first book and gave it a four star, which did mean I was greatly entertained by it. This book was essentially just as good, though there were some slight points that are entirely of my own opinion and I’m sure many people will disagree with me on some of my points which is fine. To begin with, something I did note is that this book is a tad bit shorter than the first book, which, considering it is fantasy, is a bit rare, yet this book seemed to have more characters and more story arcs than the first book, with much of the book, whilst revolving around the wonderful Lyra, was not in fact told from her point of view. We also had Will, who is a new ‘protagonist’ in a way, in that he seems to be almost as equally as important as Lyra in the story after the end of the book. It’s not really a problem in the sense that it is bad or anything, but rather the fact that I found it a bit strange that for a series that is, I assume targeted towards middle-grade readers due to the age of the two main characters, that there would be so many point of views, so many different story arcs to follow(Dr. Malone, Lee Scoresby, Grumman, just to name a few), not to mention as many have pointed out, there being lots of talk about politics and philosophy, and in this book, lots of science stuff in a fantasy story’s way, which, which I can’t help but think may turn off some readers of the ‘intended audience.’ Aside from my little ramble, I did really like many aspects of the book and found many parts to be incredible fascinating, and loved at how the travelling between world’s happen and we even spent a few good chapters on good ol’ Earth(our Earth that is). The whole thing with the Spectre’s was very creative on Pullman’s behalf and I really do think that he is quite the guy when it comes to creativity and making up mystical and magical things. Quite honestly, the creativity of the book was one of its most alluring points about it and is something that is to be both savoured and remembered. The plot, which was beautifully crafted together felt like one smooth ride without any bumps on it, which in a way, also made it sort of uninteresting from a certain perspective in that nothing really shocking happens, or when it does, the author does not emphasis a great deal on it and instead decided to continue his flow, which was fine since it did work here, so I’m not really one for complaining here. I will be hopeful when reading the conclusion to the His Dark Materials trilogy and hope that Pullman has pulled off a satisfying conclusion that will tie the story to a grand close. 7/10

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    Although I didnt enjoy this one as much as Book 1 at least my understanding of Dark Material/Matter/Dust has grown! This one is MUCH darker which is fine, some of the ideas are complex and has some philosophical ideas which the target audience may struggle with. I had to read some sections a couple of times to see if Id understood. This one focuses a lot on religion and control and in the case of Lyras world the two are one as the religious based Magisterium controls her world. In this one we Although I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Book 1 at least my understanding of Dark Material/Matter/Dust has grown! This one is MUCH darker which is fine, some of the ideas are complex and has some philosophical ideas which the target audience may struggle with. I had to read some sections a couple of times to see if I’d understood. This one focuses a lot on religion and control and in the case of Lyra’s world the two are one as the religious based Magisterium controls her world. In this one we meet Will who is going to be critical in the war that Lord Asriel is preparing for and in many ways this book feels like the bridge to that grand finale. Will is in the run in his world and he inadvertently finds a door into another world which is a terrifying one with Spectres killing adults. Here though he meets Lyra Silvertongue (Belacqua) and their partnership grows into a good friendship. We learn why Will is so important especially after he acquires the subtle knife which is going to be critical in the upcoming war. The story is told from several perspectives including the witch Serafina Pekkala (I just love that name and am seriously considering a name change) and Will and Lyra. This book is action packed, there are gruesome creatures, there’s the usual evil, treachery and double crossing (yes, of course, Mrs Coulter) several deaths but there also bravery and the continuing search for truth. There are some beautiful descriptions and some amazing images but the tone is much more serious, dark and at times quite bleak. Onto the next one!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Lots of big, complex concepts for a children's book. Having no children, I don't have a feel for how it would play to them. To me it's interesting and heady. Pondering... 4 Stars Listened to on audible. Philip Pullman narrated and has a cast of characters. It's very good.

  29. 5 out of 5

    notgettingenough

    Later... It is so surprising to me that the thing I found vastly irritating right at page one of the first of this series - the daemon - so quickly captivated me. You have this daemon in you, all of us, just as the story goes. And as a child it is anything, it has the fantastical vision that children have, there is nothing to stop it. But then we mostly grow up and we mostly lose the idea that we can do anything, we lose imagination, we lose the unconscious bravery of our childhood, we lose the Later... It is so surprising to me that the thing I found vastly irritating right at page one of the first of this series - the daemon - so quickly captivated me. You have this daemon in you, all of us, just as the story goes. And as a child it is anything, it has the fantastical vision that children have, there is nothing to stop it. But then we mostly grow up and we mostly lose the idea that we can do anything, we lose imagination, we lose the unconscious bravery of our childhood, we lose the intrepidness and curiosity with which we were born. And so our daemon can no longer be anything. It is a static reflection of the settled thing we become as we move into adulthood. Well, I cling to the idea that whether or not I've grown up, I nonetheless have a daemon which can be anything but I dare say that’s fanciful. Daemons die. They die because they were fighting for you, or because you couldn't fight hard enough for them, or because they are spurned - there are at least some things your daemon can be that thrive on the nourishment that is given them by others. You can't fight to save it because you can't force people see it the right way. They take away the thing that succoured your daemon and made it and you blossom, you see it lying on the ground, dying, and there is nothing you can do. You can't save it, only other people can. If you think about it, when you read these books, the reason you feel so utterly gutted whenever one of these creatures dies, is because you know what it feels like. You know that what is being described is exactly something dying in you, a process of loss that makes you a lesser person. Grey replaces lit-up, fear replaces joy, a sick pit in your stomach replaces a heart that beat too much from happiness. These things happen and in a heart-beat something infinitely precious is being severed from you. And I feel as helpless in their path as a small child watching something monstrously large taking their daemon away. And I guess like a small child I watch and hope something even bigger will come along and save us. ----------------------- A satire on the nature of academic research that one can only compare favourably with David Lodge’s work in this area. “‘Shadows are particles of consciousness. You ever heard anything so stupid? No wonder we can’t get our grant renewed.’….’It’s Dust,’ said Lyra authoritatively. ‘That’s what it is.’ ‘But you see, you can’t say this sort of thing in a funding application if you want to be taken seriously. It does not make sense. It cannot exist. It’s impossible, and if it isn’t impossible it’s irrelevant, amd if it isn’t either of those things it’s embarrassing.’….’Everything about this is embarrassing, she said. ‘D’you know how embarrassing it is to mention good and evil in a scientific laboratory? Have you any idea?’ One of the reasons I became a scientist was not to have to think about that kind of thing.’ ‘You’ve got to think about it,’ said Lyra severely.” Lyra, you see, is a child, so unlike research academics, she can have a plain interest in the truth. Later on, beginning p. 250 is a terribly amusing exchange between Dr Malone, trying to live up to the virtuous Lyra, her research associate who wants to take the money with the strings and Sir Charles, puller of the strings and more powerful than any piddly peer review. I love the part where he tries to seduce them with the lure of defence money if they tow the right line. But quite best of all, right near the end, the wonderful line of another child, Will, who, when a witch says ‘"No. No! That can’t be true. Impossible!"’ retorts so angrily with the simple clear mind of unaffected honesty: ‘"You think things have to be possible? Things have to be true"'. I would love to live by these words.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brigid ✩

    So, I'm re-reading this trilogy for the first time in like twelve years! I was curious to see what my stance on it would be after all this time. I remember loving the first book as a kid and then being a little iffy about books two and three ... and well, I think I liked this second installment a bit more as an adult, but I do still feel it's not quite as strong as the first book. There are still a lot of things I love about The Subtle Knife: The world-building continues to be very entrancing, So, I'm re-reading this trilogy for the first time in like twelve years! I was curious to see what my stance on it would be after all this time. I remember loving the first book as a kid and then being a little iffy about books two and three ... and well, I think I liked this second installment a bit more as an adult, but I do still feel it's not quite as strong as the first book. There are still a lot of things I love about The Subtle Knife: • The world-building continues to be very entrancing, especially as it gets more into the concept of multiple universes. • This book also has the first appearance of the Specters *shudders* which are pretty terrifying. • I like Will, although I don't think he's quite as endearing as Lyra. But the two of them together make a cute team, and I like that they feel like actual flawed, stubborn twelve-year-old kids. I find some things a little lacking about this book though: • As the second book in the trilogy, I think it does kind of fall prey to that "stepping stone" syndrome where it feels more like a transition between books than anything else. It introduces Will, the multiple worlds, the Specters, etc. etc. but I don't feel like it has much of a self-contained plot. It's a bigger piece of a whole, which is fine and all, but it does feel kind of unsatisfying in some ways. • I'm still not really sold on the whole anti-religion aspect of the books. I love the world-building, the characters, etc. but when it really gets into the religion/anti-religion I get a little bored. It has some interesting messages on the subject, but it feels very heavy-handed to me and I feel like it could afford to be more subtle. I remember this being the main reason that I was not a huge fan of the second and third books when I was younger, and as an adult I'm still finding it a little annoying. Well anyway! Over all, I still really enjoyed this book and had fun reading it a second time. There are some kind of tedious parts, but in general it's still a very good book and I look forward to re-reading the third one.

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