Tag: Northern Lights

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 – The Shadow in the North | Review

Title: The Shadow in the North

Author: Philip Pullman

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count:288

Rating: 8/10


Philip Pullman - The Shadow in the North

Philip Pullman – The Shadow in the North


The Shadow in the North is one of Pullman’s Sally Lockhart books, and so as such, it’s a Victorian era tale of suspense, mystery and intrigue. I find it hard to believe that anyone wouldn’t love this book, although I will admit that it isn’t the best in the series, in my view. Then again, I didn’t read them in order, and so perhaps that’s why – I often find that books in Pullman’s series just don’t work if you read them as standalones.

Still, you get to meet a lot of familiar faces here, and Sally herself is back as our protagonist. She’s a little different here than she was in The Ruby in the Smoke – the events of other books have changed her, which is interesting because it adds an extra dimension to her character. Sally feels like an old friend by now, and when she comes up against danger again, along with Jim Taylor, who’s up to his old shenanigans. It’s good to see those guys again.

Overall, I do think that this book deserves a place on your shelf, especially if you’re interested in Victorian stories and steampunk stuff, but there are better Pullman books out there to start with. Luckily, I’m yet to read a bad book of his, and so you can’t really go wrong – I say, put this on the list of books that you want, and go and buy Northern Lights or The Ruby in the Smoke, if you haven’t already. Oh, and be sure to come back and to let me know what you think.


Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman


Click here to buy The Shadow in the North.


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