Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, #0.5)
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Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials #0.5)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  4,380 ratings  ·  436 reviews
In this prequel episode from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials universe, Lee Scoresby -- Texan aeronaut and future friend to Lyra Belacqua -- is 24 years old. The story reveals the origins of Scoresby's friendship with Iorek Byrnison as well as Scoresby's aeronautical career.

After winning his hot-air balloon in a poker game, Scoresby finds himself floating north. On the...more
Hardcover, 104 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2008)
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May 20, 2008 Elizabeth added it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: ACB
"Nice piece of oratorical flamboyancy." (--Hester)

This book was a gift. I *love* the size and shape of it, its compactness, the cloth cover, the way it fits so perfectly with its companion book, Lyra's Oxford, which I perversely keep with my guidebooks rather than my other Pullman novels.

I am almost certain I would have liked the actual text better had I not been consumed with jealousy over the presentation. The story is less than 100 small pages long, directed at no obviously definable reader o...more

It's been ages since I reread His Dark Materials, so I don't have a clear image of Lee Scoresby in my head - and I don't remember his, surprisingly kickass, daemon Hester at all. I'm ashamed of this, she is an energetic, cussing delight.

I do remember being incredibly intrigued by Iorek and the whole idea of armored bears, and of course, I think we all wondered how on earth those two ended up as friends. This story does it justice, I think.

It's very short, but it tells a fulfilling and engaging...more
Winter Branch
Short and sweet. It was nice to read about Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison again. This time around, Scoresby seemed a bit brash and more quick-witted than I remembered but he was 30 something years younger so that might have something to do with it.

I’m sure everyone’s main complaint will be that the book is too short (and I admit I was hit with a ting of dread around page 50 knowing that I was already closer to the ending than the beginning). However; just like Lyra’s Oxford, Scoresby’s story i...more
This short, little tale is a prequel to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, set decades before the events in Northern Lights. Here we meet Lee Scorsesby and the armored bear Iorek Byrninson, and learn how they came to know each other.

Once Upon a Time in the North is a lovely story, and the title suggests a homage to Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time in the West.
But the influence does not end there. Pullman's writing is fantastic and he conveys the steampunk atmosphere of a small port town perfec...more
Alex Telander
Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman: It's been some time since Philip Pullman has published anything set in the world of His Dark Materials; the last offering was a very short story called Lyra's Oxford. In Once Upon a Time in the North, Pullman returns with an original tale about Lee Scoresby the aeronaut, weighing in at just under a hundred pages - and while fans would wish for three times as much, it's certainly much better than nothing.

In a poker game in his native Texas, twenty-...more
Jul 04, 2008 Erin rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: those who like a good, quick yarn
Do yourself a favor, and read this quick little story.
A fantastic little read in a very well presented format. Pullman has a command of language not to be missed. In this little tale we get a beguiling introduction to Lee Scoresby and his dæmon Hester, and who doesn't love Lee and Hester--a wry Texan with a heart of gold and his delightfully sarcastic companion.

A sample-- after crash-landing his newly acquired air ballon:

The pilot gingerly untangled his fingers from the rope he'd been holding on...more
An elegantly imagined Western tale, even though it is set in the far North, when a very young Lee Scoresby and the bear Iorek Byrnison meet and find they are on the same side. It unfolds like a movie, in grey and blue and ice tones instead of dust and dun and gold, but the pacing, spirit, and tone conjure up every great cowboy movie you have ever seen.
A coda offers a tantalizing glimpse into Lyra's life as a graduate student.
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I cannot quite figure out who would enjoy this volume: for those who have never read the His Dark Materials Trilogy, daemons and the world around them might be too odd, without explanation at all. I like the "western-gunslinger" flavor but don't see how that can hold the interest of most young readers. Then, it is not enough, not meaty enough, not enough Iorek, at least, for a fan like me. I wanted to know MORE about their past and their earlier personalities and hardship/happiness -- this does...more
The only good thing about this book is that it is short.
Gwen the Librarian
This is a fabulous yarn that tells how the characters Iorek Byrnison and Lee Scoresby from the His Dark Materials series first met. It reads like a Western set in the North and is just a nice, taut episode. Definitely not for kids, this is dark, political, and violent. Very enjoyable and helpful for getting our fix from Lyra's world.
Laura Bang
This is another companion mini-novel to His Dark Materials, this time telling the tale of how Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison met. And it had more interesting inserts from Lyra's world. And a board game! Hee!

It's a great read! I mean, Lee Scoresby! And Hester! Lee and Hester are my favourite character (singular because really they're the same person) from the whole series, so I was very excited when I heard about this book. And it did not disappoint. (Except for the stereotypically mousy librari...more
It's been a while since I visited this world, but I still remember its denizens and their daemons fondly. So, it's with pleasure that I read this short story, featuring the aeronaut from the country of Texas and Iorek Byrnison, the Svalbard bear. This meeting of theirs is hinted at in the trilogy (was it in Golden Compass?), and it's as fun and epic a tale as it's made out to be there.

Lee Scoresby, really young here (thirty five years before his death), has won the balloon in a poker game and ha...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nemo (the Moonlight Library)
See this review and more on The Moonlight Library!

Once Upon a Time in the North tells a prequel tale of the aeronaut Lee Scoresby from Pullman’s fantastic world-wide hit trilogy His Dark Materials and his first meeting with the ice bear, Iorek Byrnison, set in the familiar North.

The book didn’t appeal to me as much as I thought it would – it’s much more of a bloke’s tale than catering to my taste – there’s a lot of page space dedicated to a shoot out that I really didn’t care about and conversat...more
Interesting, though short - it's just under 100 pages. This book is set 50 years prior to the setting of 'His Dark Materials' Trilogy. Lee Scoresby is a 24 year-old who is just learning to be an aeronaut. Over the course of two or three rather eventful days he gets himself in plenty of trouble. He meets Iorek Byrnison for the first time as well, so we get to see why they have become such good friends by the time they meet Lyra. Not a bad read, but very short and has a bunch of loose connections...more
Scott Cooperstein
So that's it. I've read every bit of writing that exists in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. It's a sad day for me. I loved the whole thing, and I wish there was more to it. I've seen the movie (regrettably), read the original three books, and now these two side-stories. I cannot recommend the series highly enough. To me it's superior to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia, ect. The whole concept of this universe fascinates me. Books like these are why I fell in love with reading...more
The reason Northern Lights was the best book out of the entire trilogy "His Dark Materials" was the world it was set in. Philip Pullman weaved one of the most complex and enjoyable alternate universes I've ever read: a 19th century-style world on the brink of an industrial revolution, dominated by a Calvinist Church. A world of adventure and antiquity, where university professors discuss scientific expeditions from the comfort of Oxford smoking rooms, where the outskirts of civilisation are rule...more
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This is the story of how two of my favorite characters from His Dark Materials meet. Iorek Byrnison and Lee Scorsby are just wonderful characters all around, and this novella about how a young Lee runs into trouble in Muscovy is not to be missed for fans of the series.
This book was really cute. I loved getting to know Lee Scorsby and how his friendship with Iorek began. I love the kind of character he was when he was young, and you can definitely see similarities to whom he became.

Overall, a very good companion book!
It's no His Dark Materials (a phrase I suspect dogs Philip Pullman through everything, no matter how good, he has published since), but it's darn good time, and I hope there are similar volumes about Lee awaiting us in the future.
Delightful! I loved the connections to the story we already know, and seriously, 24-year-old Lee Scoresby -- I would marry you in a heartbeat. And, as always, my heart bursts with love for Hester.
This very brief book is more of a novella of sorts featuring two of my favorite of the Pullman characters... Yorick Bernison and Lee Scorsby in proper prequel fashion. Good stuff.
Pullman is supurb! This story is a little gem and it was like being given just a forkfull of a fabulous dessert. I was left yearning for more by this fabulous writer.
Once Upon a Time in the North tells the story of Lee Scoresby getting tangled in the politics of a town he's visiting. The book was more action than anything else, which made for a fast-paced but not particularly satisfying read. I was expecting more development of the relationship between Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison, but all we got was a glimpse of the start of their friendship—just an introduction, and nothing more. Considering how deep Lee and Iorek's friendship was in the main trilogy of...more
Timothy Darling
I personally would not recommend this book to children. The language is a bit too salty for that, even though the book is billed for them. Scoresby and Byrnison are good characters, and some others surface as well. The aeronaut comes into town, quickly assesses the corrupt political situation. Throws his lot in with a harassed victim merchant, and saves the day. The story of a single man's ingenuity and pluck against the establishment is reminiscent of His Dark Materials, though that series too...more
Lance Martin
Read The Golden Compass last summer. With the other books on my shelf I wasn't sure if I was ready to tackle the next in the series, so this seemed like a nice way to revisit Pullman's world without too much of a time commitment. It was a nice little afternoon's read. Even if you haven't read Pullman's books, if you've seen the movie, you'll enjoy this book. Lee Scoresby is back in this one which, it turns out, is a prequel to the events of The Golden Compass. Scoresby is visiting Svalbard for t...more
I've been grateful for these additions to His Dark Materials, packaged as hardbound, bite-size treats intended for a child. They are a way for Pullman to let his obsessed fans continue on journeys with characters they have come to know and love so well.

Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrenison both play leading roles in Once Upon a Tim in the North. The timing of their meeting and adventure is appropriately vague. Did this occur before the adventures spoken of in His Dark Materials? Afterwards? In anothe...more
Before I saw it in the audio book section of the library today, I had no idea this book existed! I checked it out right away and listened to it at work (the recording is only a little more than 2 hours). I read the His Dark Materials series when I was younger and LOVED it. This story happens before the main series takes place, and explains the relationship between Lee Scorsby and Iorek Byrnison that is alluded to in The Golden Compass. It is basically a wild western shootout in the arctic. Lee i...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards...more
More about Philip Pullman...
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1) The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2) The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3) His Dark Materials (His Dark Materials #1-3) Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

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