Book #72

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

Will is the bearer of the knife. Now, accompanied by angels, his task is to deliver that powerful, dangerous weapon to Lord Asriel - by the command of his dying father.
But how can he go looking for Lord Asriel when Lyra is gone? Only with her help can he fathom the myriad plots and and intrigues that beset him. 
The two great powers of the many worlds are lining up for war, and Will must find Lyra, for together they are on their way to battle, an inevitable journey that will even take them to the world of the dead.

I have no idea how I feel about the finale of His Dark Materials. This trilogy has been a hell of a ride through multiple universes, where I’ve met baffling and interesting characters (Thumbelina riding a dragonfly – yes; elephants on roller-skates – no), and fallen deeply in love with my protagonists and their dæmons. It’s difficult for me to bash the series as a whole, but there were parts of the final novel that I simply couldn’t make myself enjoy.

Firstly, in my review of The Subtle Knife, I stated I was hoping for a reduction in the theological turn the plot was beginning to take. This dream did not come true, and I was embroiled in battles and plans to kill God and build a new heaven. I could not get on board with this, not for religious reasons, but for the way in which this factor seemed to steal away from Pullman’s fantasy. Any chapter which involved the Church, the angels, or Lord Asriel’s plans, dulled my curiosity completely. It has taken me a while to finish the novel for this reason.

And secondly, I felt even less spellbound than I did during The Subtle Knife. There was nothing to fill me with wonder and disbelief, nothing to completely tickle my brain with incomprehensible new ideas or situations. A large section of the book was devoted to battle, to zeppelins and gyrocopters, and trying to escape the bad guys. It dragged on. I much preferred the deceit, the sneaking around, the plotting, the discovering, and the things falling into place.

I think Pullman’s downfall has been writing such a stunning first instalment that its shine simply couldn’t be matched. Everything he introduced in Northern Lights was utterly magical, engrossing, and compelling. Everything since has been akin to buying a fake handbag – it’s all right, but poor in comparison to the original.

Still, there were parts I absolutely adored – the progression of Lyra and Will’s relationship, the world of the dead, Lee Scoresby! And that ending – just stamp all over my heart, why don’t you?

I have definite mixed feelings about this series, but I’ll always hold a love for Lyra and Pan. Let’s see if Pullman can bring out more of his imaginative skill (and hopefully fewer angels) in La Belle Sauvage.