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The Book of Dust

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So Philip Pullman's oft-mentioned big novel, or apparently now set of novels, set in the same universe as His Dark Materials is definitely going to be a thing:

 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/feb/15/philip-pullman-unveils-epic-fantasy-trilogy-the-book-of-dust

 

First volume is out in October. Probably just enough time for a re-read of the first trilogy, and maybe to pick up the novella about Lee Scoresby and Iorek (I've read the one centred around Lyra already... we're supposed to get one for Will as well eventually). I'm guessing that given he's been mentioning it here and there for over a decade now, substantial parts of the "trilogy" must be at least planned out to a large degree. I wonder if he'll be going for YA or just straight up adult fiction. The Amber Spyglass wasn't far off being actual proper literature imo. The last thing he did was The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ which was a bit pants, and overly polemic, but my hypeometer is set to maximum regardless.

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At last! Some good news about 2017. I must try to re-read His Dark Materials before this comes out.

 

I was quite underwhelmed by Lyra's Oxford and I didn't even know there was an equivalent about Lee, which might be another one for the reading pile of shame.

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This was just going to be a collection of short stories for ages, wasn't it? Glad he is making it a full trilogy now, HDM is one of the best series of books I have ever read, regardless of genre/age group. 

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Forgot to post about this myself. It's been a literal lifetime that I've been waiting and it still feels unreal it's finally coming. My 2000/2001 self is shocked beyond belief.

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I'm very excited for this. With the next book in my favourite novel series coming out in June and now this in October, its a good year for new novels for me. Now if GRRM could get his book out for Xmas it would round the year off nicely.

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I really love the HDM novels, hence my avatar. I've been hoping this would see the light of day for so long and I'll definitely reread the trilogy this year (for at least the 4th time). 

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The full cast (with Pullman as narrator) unabridged audiobooks* are amazing. Well worth buying, even for book owners. Great way to prepare for this release.

 

* careful, there is an abridged audio performance thing, and a pure narrated one.

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I read Once Upon a Time in the North over the last couple of nights. What a lovely little book, in every sense.

 

If it weren't so expensive for a 100 page novella I'd recommend it wholeheartedly.

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This is out now. I pre-ordered and got the first edition and it's lovely. I'm about 50 pages in and I'm already suitably hooked. It's great to be back in Lyra's world again.

 

Anyone else reading?

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I’m reading it too. About 70 pages in, and it’s lovely to be in the world again. Daemons are such a fantastic idea. 

 

It’s really making me reflect upon how much has changed in our world is (especially regarding atheism) since the first trilogy was published. 

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100 pages in and totally captivated again by Mr Pullman. Forcing myself to stop after each chapter, otherwise I would devour this in a single sitting. Enjoying that having a great book waiting at home feeling as I plod through another day of work!! :D

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I'm reading this during my lunch breaks at work, and it's so good to be back in the world. It's been a while, but the His Dark Materials trilogy is probably my favourite read of all time.

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I was quite enjoying it to begin with but feel very underwhelmed now with about 50 pages to go. There's none of the adventure or whimsical fantasy of Northern Lights. It's more of an attempt at a thriller with a few random fantastical set pieces thrown in towards the end.

 

Pullman's style has always been simple to the point of condescension - '...or they would be in very big trouble!' kind of thing, as though he's telling a story to a dog - and I understand that these are kids' books so that makes sense. But in this book, he starts dropping f-bombs all over the place and touches on some fairly perverse sexual stuff, while continuing to write in the same patronising storybook style. I'm really curious to know what you guys make of that - who is his intended reader here?

 

And for what was supposed to be a Book of Dust, he mentions Dust about five times. There's virtually no further exploration of the nature of that mysterious particle - instead, hundreds of pages of very dull events in what feels more like real-world Oxford than Brytain's Oxford. A real waste of what used to be a captivating setting.

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You're way ahead of me, but Pullman's always said he doesn't really target a particular age group. HDM was usually placed in the young adult section, so I imagine The Book of Dust would end up in the same place.

 

The Book of Dust is the title of the trilogy, so I imagine the title may become more relevant as it continues. It was also a title he came up with years ago though for what would have been a single novel, so maybe it's drifted away from its original intent a little.

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Just finished it and thought it was good, but not on the level of HDM (but I think that was always going to be a hard feat). I really like Pullmans style and was captivated in parts, but it's not without it's flaws.  Like @ann coulter said it seems more like a thriller with a few fantastical elements thrown in that's don't really go anyway. There's a lot less fantasy  than I was expecting. I guess there's only so much he could have done though considering the situation with Lyra but I do hope we get some more adventure and fantasy in the follow on novels. This felt a little flat in the adventure department, with it all being set mainly in one area for 75% of the book. 

 

I think the swearing and sexual stuff is fine because his target audience is probably people my age who read HDM in their teens and are now in their 30s.

 

I liked the characters though, especially Malcolm and I'm interested to see how they progress with the next book being set after the events of The Amber Spyglass.

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I finished reading this earlier this afternoon.

 

Thoughts:

Spoiler

I was disappointed with it, overall. I read Northern Lights when I was about 12 and the original three novels were my favourite books growing up, more so even than the Harry Potter series, and although I knew this could never live up to their brilliance, part of me hoped that it was going to be the start of another epic, soaring fantasy series. Instead, I just thought it was a bit flat and didn't really go anywhere.

 

The first part, at the pub, was much better than the second; I was genuinely intrigued to find out why Lyra was being hidden away, who Bonneville was and why he beat his daemon, and Malcolm was a likeable character, even if he did seem to be very similar to Will (not to mention the most precocious eleven year-old in existence). I thought Pullman was going for a similar structure to Northern Lights: a young character in a familiar setting who is suddenly whisked far away on an amazing adventure. As soon as the second part began, however, it became obvious that this wasn't going to happen, and the novel instead became a series of repetitive vignettes that were picked up and then just sort of left, unexplained. The island with the fairy mother, for example, the island with the magical lawn party, the bit with Old Father Thames junior, the island with the witch, the island when Bonneville suddenly came back again as some sort of shadow creature before being killed off... Each time I just found myself thinking, "Oh, is that it, then?" It read like a much bigger book that Pullman had had to ruthlessly pare down in a massive rush to the ending, which was also unsatisfying - Asriel basically says "Cheers for coming all this way to find me, but I've got to get going now to the North, so I'll take you back to Oxford. BTW, please look after my daughter. Cheersthen." Doctor Malone's Relf's plotline, which initially seemed interesting, is also just sort of left with no real closure. You could argue that this is going to be tied up in the next book, but as @Stigweard says, that one is going to apparently take place after the events of The Amber Spyglass, presumably when Malcolm and Alice are in their late twenties/early thirties, and seeing as Dr Relf, Malcolm or Alice aren't featured in the original trilogy, I can't see how that's going to work.

 

I'll still buy the next one, as and when it appears in probably ten years' time, but I thought Pullman could have done a lot more with this. I was expecting exotic tales of Grumman's original expedition and discovery of Cittagazze, Asriel's adventures, Iorek's exile from Svalbard, something to do with the angels or the witches' prophecy about Lyra, maybe the tale of Mrs Coulter's and Asriel's passionate affair...Instead, though, he's just given us what feels like a novella, an episode, similar to Lyra's Oxford, but dragged out over 500 pages, and still managing to feel too light.

 

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I came in here to write something but Jamie John has summed up pretty much exactly how I feel about it, very well put :)

 

 

 


I loved reading Pullman again. I felt so close to HDM as a kid and teenager. It's been a looong time, and there's still something very enthralling about his storytelling. The start totally gripped me but the second half was frustratingly abstract and unresolved. What world were they in? Why were the fairy and river God so easily tricked? How on Earth did Bonneville catch up with them and find them? Etc. Also, like @ann coulter says, Pullman's style sometimes feels a little simplistic reading in your mid-thirties, and I thought some of the dialogue felt a bit stilted and unnatural, "Thank you very much, Dr. Relf." "You are very welcome, Malcolm."

 

Overall I enjoyed it and will definitely buy the second, but didn't think it was that great.
 

 

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I enjoyed it, though as has been said above, it's not of the same quality as the first two HDM books. But not much is.

Actually really enjoyed the "drowned world" road trip of the second half, and thought it did a good job of building a magical, fantasy atmosphere. Malcolm or Alice mention at one point that the world seems to have changed and become more strange since the flood, which I think goes some way toward explaining why everything seems very pedestrian and non-magical at the start.

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Just got around to finishing this the other day. Malcolm and Alice were such a great team, and I really found myself in tears by the end. Was great to read more of Coulter and Asriel. I probably enjoyed the fantasy moments the least actually (giant, elf woman on the island, weird limbo zone) but really loved just the hard slog of the boat trip and the struggles they faced. Was surprised Malcolm was only 11 in the book, as the things he was doing seemed like something a much older kid would be doing. His relationship to Lyra was gorgeous, really, just how much he would fight for to keep her safe. Really amazing.

 

3.9/5

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Fuck, I forgot HDM has the Oxford connection. I've just moved to Oxford, plus I've only read the series once, a long time ago - time to read it again! I just charity shopped all my books but am already accumulating new ones at an alarming rate. Maybe it's time I bought a kindle. 

 

Alternatively I might just build up another collection and then chazzer them all again, more fun!

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