Tag: The Lord of the Rings

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.

J. R. R. Tolkien – The Return of the King | Review

Title: The Return of the King

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 560

Rating: 8/10


J. R. R. Tolkien - The Return of the King

J. R. R. Tolkien – The Return of the King


The Return of the King is a weird one, because I found that at one point it was the slowest of any of the books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and yet at another point, it was the most action packed. I also felt more accomplished when I finished this than I did at any other point in the trilogy, but that’s probably because it took me so damn long to complete it – I had to read a couple of hundred pages of each book at a time, then switch over to something lighter to make sure that I didn’t lose the bug for reading, and then come back to it. Because of that, it took me over a year to read the trilogy, and The Return of the King took me the most time of all.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing, though – in fact, one of the interesting things about the book is that, in many ways, it has a second ending, which occurs back in The Shire after our heroes’ quest is over. It wasn’t featured in the films, which is a shame, but I’m not going to say any more about it here because I don’t want to spoil it. For some readers, who’ve managed to avoid spoilers so far, it’ll be a surprising twist; for others, it’ll be the ultimate culmination of everything that happened throughout the series.


J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien


Tolkien’s writing style isn’t always easy to swallow, but you get used to it, and once you’re submerged in the story line, you can find yourself whizzing through 50-100 pages at a time, if you’re lucky. Still, despite how difficult it can be, it’s definitely worth sticking with, and if you’ve read the first two books in the trilogy then you’d be a fool not to go on and complete them. And if you get to the end and you loved it, then there’s always The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, as well as plenty of other Tolkien books of short stories and legends and lore.

And Tolkien being Tolkien, this isn’t just a book that you read from cover to cover – there’s also plenty of extra information, including maps of Middle Earth, which will help to bring the story to life, and to explain what’s happening to you when you find yourself in the middle of a long retelling of an ancient story, as tends to happen. I always felt as though Tolkien wrote more like a historian than like a novelist, and that The Lord of the Rings trilogy is effectively the great history book for his fictional world.

It probably won’t surprise you to know that the author is an incredible linguist, too – many of the languages that he created have syntax and grammar laws, and it’s even possible to speak some of them, if you want to. It’s fun to watch Tolkien playing with his languages, in a way that no author has ever really been able to match. So read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and work your way up to The Return of The King, but be sure to read them in order. They don’t really work out of order.


J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien


Click here to buy The Return of the King.