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The Subtle Knife : His Dark Materials
by Philip Pullman


Overview - 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 Cittàgazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild.  Read more...

 
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More About The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
 
 
 
Overview
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 Cittàgazze, "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.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780679879251
  • ISBN-10: 0679879250
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Publish Date: August 1997
  • Page Count: 352
  • Reading Level: Ages 10-UP
  • Dimensions: 8.55 x 5.84 x 1.16 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.13 pounds

Series: His Dark Materials (Hardcover) #1

Related Categories

Books > Young Adult Fiction > Fantasy - Epic
Books > Young Adult Fiction > Action & Adventure - General
Books > Young Adult Fiction > Science Fiction - General

 
BookPage Reviews

What might be right beside us that we can't see or feel? Do ghosts and witches really exist, but just in some other world? Could there be alternative universes similar to our own? In "The Subtle Knife," Philip Pullman creates a world that is enough like our own to make us wonder. He weaves a tale full of mystery and magic, covering three worlds - alternative universes - with windows from one to the other.

The main character is Will, a boy who is very much alone in his world. His father disappeared on an expedition to Alaska when Will was a baby, and his mother is hounded by enemies both seen and unseen. Will can't do anything about the invisible threat to her, but he can keep the two men who are badgering her from getting the secret information his father sent home in letters. Will finds a window to another world and knows he'll be safe there from the pursuing men.

In this new world where adults are attacked by specters only they can see, Will meets Lyra, the main character from "The Golden Compass," the first book in the series. She is still intent on her own quest: a search for the elusive element she calls dust. The children work together, each helping the other toward their goals. Along the way they fight both adults and children, jump between the worlds and unknowingly stumble into the middle of preparations for the biggest battle ever fought in human history, where civilization will begin again. But not even Will can imagine how closely linked all these events are with his destiny to continue his father's dream.

Pullman writes a story filled with witches (black capes and broomsticks included), soul-sucking specters, angels and manipulative villains. His characters are convincing - vulnerable, yet stronger than they think. The idea that human history can begin again is intriguing, as is the idea that many worlds occupy the same space and that it is possible to move among them, though most of the time we know nothing of their existence. This echoes Thornton Wilder's description in "The Eighth Day" that time is "a vast landscape and it only the eye of the beholder that moves."

"The Subtle Knife" is a complicated book. Many disparate events take place that only slowly begin to converge toward the end, but dedicated young readers, willing to plow through will be richly rewarded. It is helpful to begin with "The Golden Compass," as Pullman occasionally refers to events from the past and most of his characters were introduced in the first book. His plot snowballs, building density and momentum, and leaving the reader eager for the third book when all will be revealed and when we can view the landscape of all his worlds with a clearer eye.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hanley.

 
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