Been a while, but the Hubs (once called the Man, before the big M=marriage of 2013) commented recently that it’s been a while since I put anything on here. He’s totally right. So, since I’m just sitting here waiting for the Halloween minded kiddies to make an appearance, I may as well throw something together– how about a book review?
I read this! Book of Dust, la Belle Sauvage by Phillip Pullman this week.
It’s a new prequel series to his infamous “Dark Materials” trilogy featuring magic, parallel worlds, morality, death of religion and the onset of puberty. I highly recommend the original set (Golden Compass – Northern Lights in some countries – , Subtle Knife, Amber Spyglass) and highly suggest skipping the Golden Compass film. Adding Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman gave it a bit of star power, but the overall result was recognizable stars wallowing around in some shit.
1 minion’s opinion.
But, that’s why you come here.
Okay, so, the book introduces us to Malcolm, a young fellow who’s clever and in tight with some local nuns. He also has his ear to the ground when it comes to gossip and intrigue, thanks to hours put in at his father’s pub. When a trio of strange yet influential men set up in a private area of the pub and ask him some rather pointed questions about the convent across the river, Mal realizes that he’ll need to talk to the nuns about those inquiries – specifically the mens’ curiosity about Lyra, a recent inhabitant that fans of the original series will recognize as the girl who changes her world and reality as they know it. But, in this book, she’s barely 6 month’s old and has no idea what’s to come.
Young Mal is recruited by a scholar/spy after a connection of hers is roughly murdered, and, as drama and suspense has it, winds up on the run with Lyra, assisted by his peer, Alice (I hesitate to call her “friend” initially — she works at the pub as well but winds up in this mess with him. Their relations improve as the story moves forward).
Adventures galore, and we see how Lyra comes to later claim some ownership over an Alethiometer a future/present-reading device) in the original trilogy. (It’s a rare machine and Lyra is weirdly keen and perceptive on how to use it.) In Book of Dust, a different device is handled by the scholar/spy as they try to get to the bottom of various mysteries.
Agreeably, the book suffers from the same problem many prequels have where characters with a future already known are introduced so any dire straits they may face within this adventure are already assured to be survivable successes.
That said, I did enjoy the book immensely, and will be on the lookout for the second volume when it appears next year.
I recall the first time I even heard of the series. I bought and devoured the first couple books without hours, frankly, but still only had a month or two to wait for the finale, unlike other fans. I actually thought there’d be a line-up outside the bookstore to get book three, but was the first in, and likely their only customer that morning. I still hugged the book to me like a treasure, though, and cried at the end as I reached it. Brutal.
For those already familiar with the world as presented, I’m sure my daemon would have been a cat — hopefully one of those orange and white ones I love so much.
Until next time – which may be sooner than usual…