Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The third installment of Pullmans' "His Dark Materials" is, by far, the longest and, at times, it sort of felt like it was a little too long. However, I still enjoyed the story and, in a rare act for a bit of fiction, it left me thinking.
Typically, when I read a novel I just go into it for the entertainment and the escape. I don't try to analyze or dig deeply into the hidden layers of meaning however Pullman makes it almost impossible for me not to think about the allegory that his entire series seems to act as.
For the time being, however, I'll ignore all of that and just point out one nit in the story that really bothered me. How did Mrs. Coulter get Lyra and herself all the way to a cave in the Himalayas so fast? She didn't have any kind of special equipment or magical devices and yet she was able to get somewhere far away in, what seemed like, a day. Meanwhile, Will, with his magic knife had to travel for weeks to reach the cave. It honestly didn't make any sense and that disconnect bugged me throughout the entire book.
One of my favorite parts of the series was the fact that Pullman never really let you know if Mrs Coulter or Lord Asriel was really good or bad. In fact, I detested both of them throughout the series even though they seemed to have completely conflicting purposes. At least Asriel's demaon was likable but perhaps that was because we barely got to know it - meanwhile Mrs. Coulter's monkey was easy to dislike. Throughout the series I kept waiting to learn some secret about that Monkey and Mrs. Coulter so I was a little disappointed when it was all said and done.
It is easy for me to overlook my problems with the story though and just say, "I liked it." I hope to get my daughters to read the series at some point even though Lyra became a weaker and weaker character as the story unfolded.
I flew through this book even though in one critical way it disappointed me greatly; Lyra didn't seem as confident in herself nor as bold in this chapter of the trilogy.
"The Subtle Knife" takes place on three worlds; the first is the same as that which dominated the first book. The second is the Earth we are familiar with and the third is a planet that is haunted by Specters that drain the spirit from adults they encounter.
In neither our world, nor the world of Specters, do the humans have an animal companion as in the first world - yet Lyras' Pan does not disappear even though all the people she meets elsewhere have their spirits within themselves. It's an odd inconsistency considering the one person we end up meeting in Lyra's home world who was from Earth has an animal companion.
This volume stars a young boy, just older than Lyra, named Will who serves as her fighting protector and guide when she visits earth. Will is an interesting character who has his own very unique story and he adds an interesting twist to the overall tale being told but the focus on Will, at Lyra's expense, disappointed me after having Lyra presented as such a strong character in "The Golden Compass."
To be honest this book did nothing towards helping clear up the alignment of the motives of Lord Asriel. While, I'm intrigued with the concept of destroying "God" I'm just not sure if Asriel's motive is a good one. I'm anxious to read book three, "The Amber Spyglass" to see the resolution.
I picked up this book, well the series really, in order to spend some time reading a few stories to my eight year old daughter. However, she wasn't very interested in the book because there were so many words she didn't know the definition of. However, I fully enjoyed the tale.
I picked this book specifically because it appeared to have a strong young female lead character and the story didn't disappoint in that regard. In fact Lyra is, perhaps, one of the bravest characters I've ever read. Considering she is, maybe, 11 years old she faces and overcomes incredible circumstances throughout the book.
The setting of the book is an alternate earth that is very similar to our own world, but in an age gone by, but also one that is very foreign. For instance Texas is a country and Polar Bears are warriors who can talk. However, the most unusual part of the world is also one of the main elements of the overall story - the daemons; an animal representation of each person's soul.
Lyra and her animal companion, Pan, experience a wide range of adventure as well as a a colorful cast of characters. One of the coolest aspects of the book is that it isn't obvious who is actually doing good and who is doing evil - or if either of the two main characters that are a focus of Lyra's attention are doing good at all. The only thing we really know is the people who befriend Lyra all seem like really good people.
I hope to get my daughter to come back and read this book either by herself or with me in the future because I think she would really enjoy the story