Tag: Bears

Philip Pullman – La Belle Sauvage | Review

Title: La Belle Sauvage

Author: Philip Pullman

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 551

Rating: 3.5*/5

 

Philip Pullman - La Belle Sauvage

Philip Pullman – La Belle Sauvage

 

I think it’s pretty safe to say I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I guess I’ve been waiting for this book ever since I was a kid because the His Dark Materials trilogy is my favourite trilogy of all time. This book is the first book in an accompanying trilogy called The Book of Dust which runs alongside the His Dark Materials books, and I’m still not too sure what to make of it.

To be honest, I was kind of expecting not to love it, purely because it’s natural to be a little ambivalent when a new installment of a series you like is released. It happened with the new Star Wars movie. But really, I think my issue here is that there just wasn’t much adventure. I think Northern Lights (also called The Golden Compass) worked well because at its heart, it’s an adventure novel. This one is many things, but calling it an adventure novel would be a push – especially for the first three hundred pages, where pretty much nothing happens.

La Belle Sauvage felt more like The Silmarillion than The Lord of the Rings, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want to learn more about how the church works in Pullman’s world or if you’re interested in the research being done into the various meanings of the symbols on the alethiometer, this is your book. If you’re hoping for armored bears and parallel universes, you’ll be disappointed. Unfortunately, that was kind of what I was hoping for.

 

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman

 

One way that I’ve been making sense of it is by thinking about how many times I’ve re-read Northern Lights. I just can’t imagine myself ever re-reading this one, although I am at least glad that I ticked it off. I’ll probably read the rest of the books in this new trilogy, but I won’t be in a rush to get them. It’s a shame, but I think a lot of that is down to me as a reader. It didn’t help that one of my favourite characters of all-time was a baby, either. I don’t like babies, and babies don’t do anything interesting.

Overall, it was fine, but I can’t help but feel like the series should have been left alone where it was. Personally, I would’ve preferred a new standalone series or more books in the Sally Lockhart series, but equally I appreciate that the demand was there for more books in Lyra’s world. And to this book’s credit, it still does a great job of world-building, it’s just that I would have liked the action to have left Oxford. Even in Northern Lights,  when there’s no jumping between worlds, we still see a huge amount of the place. Here, it starts to feel kind of claustrophobic, as if all of this stuff is happening and we’re stuck at home, reading about it on the internet.

I think that if I didn’t have a vested interest in this series because of the previous trilogy, I would have DNFd this. As it is, I stuck with it – and it did get a little better. But it just didn’t feel fun.

 

Philip Pullman Quote

Philip Pullman Quote

 

Click here to buy La Belle Sauvage.

 


Philip Pullman – Northern Lights | Review

Title: Northern Lights

Author: Philip Pullman

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 404

Rating: 10/10

 

Philip Pullman - Northern Lights

Philip Pullman – Northern Lights

 

If I could give this book an 11/10, I would – this, for me, is the book that made me fall in love with reading, and all three of the books in the trilogy, the ‘His Dark Materialstrilogy, are guaranteed a 10/10 from the start. In this book, we’re introduced to Lyra Belacqua, the protagonist of the series, and the first fictional character I ever had a crush on. Seems a bit weird now, because she’s just a kid and I’m 26, but then I was just a kid when I first read this.

In fact, the book was a gift from my grandparents when I was off school sick and they were looking after me. I’m not sure whether they realised what they were giving me, at the time – that single act of kindness was a defining moment in my life, and I probably wouldn’t be a writer if that hadn’t happened.

Lyra’s world is a lot like our world, except with a few intriguing differences – in many ways, the technology of Pullman’s world has a steampunk feel, and their alternative history has led to some fascinating clashes between technology that we’re familiar with and creatures that are new to us. The creatures and the characterisation are one of the things that make this book so impressive – you can expect to see witches, soulless children, armoured bears called Panserbjørn, and even daemons.

Daemons deserve a paragraph of their own, because it’s a fantastic concept and one that’s always resonated with me. Effectively, daemons are the outward manifestation of people’s souls, and everyone has one. They appear as talking animals, which can change shape at will until a child reaches puberty, when they settle upon a final form. In my case, I’m pretty sure my daemon would be a wolf. The only problem with having a daemon, as far as I can tell, is that if you get separated or if your daemon dies, you’ll die as well. But then, if a part of your soul dies, then wouldn’t it be better for the body to die with it anyway?

This is one of the concepts that Pullman investigates in the book, and so I’m not going to say much more about it – I love this book, and I think everyone should read it. Why are you waiting?

 

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman

 

Click here to buy Northern Lights.

 


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