Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, #0.5)” as Want to Read:
Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, #0.5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  6,773 Ratings  ·  617 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
Hardcover, 104 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Once Upon a Time in the North, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Once Upon a Time in the North

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nov 14, 2015 Kirstine rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, own, reviewed, 1-men
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
Rebecca McNutt
Dec 13, 2016 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
Lee Scoresby is my favourite character in the His Dark Materials series, so it was great to discover that he was the central character of one of the books. With adventure, fantastic travels and unpredictable magic, this book is one of the best fantasy novels I've ever read.
Scott Cooperstein
Apr 05, 2012 Scott Cooperstein rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, own
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
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
May 06, 2016 Orient rated it it was amazing
A nice short story to remind about the prehistory of "His Dark Materials"
Jan 19, 2017 Cyndi rated it really liked it
A novella that introduces the characters used in the series. This makes me want to read the rest of the series. I hadn't realized it would be so interesting.
Nov 07, 2015 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah so many distractions - especially when really I should be getting on with reading books I set out to read, but I guess when books like Once Upon A Time in the North come along you can sort of forgive me.

This is another short special set in the world of His Dark Materials. This time it introduces us to Lee Scoresby and how he started on the path that would eventually lead him to Lyra.

The story is short not reaching 100 pages however it does set the tone for what is to follow. He is a man on
Jul 04, 2008 Erin rated it it was amazing
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
Winter Branch
Apr 13, 2008 Winter Branch rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, youngadult
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
Alex Telander
Sep 16, 2010 Alex Telander rated it really liked it
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-
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
Apr 18, 2008 GraceAnne rated it really liked it
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.
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
3.5 stars

Now I'm excited to dive into the His Dark Materials trilogy, hopefully in a couple months. I'll most likely have to give this another listen once I've finished the trilogy, to get the full effect of it being a prequel, but for what it was this time around I really liked it. I'm not especially familiar with Pullman's work -- the most I remember is that a film adaptation (if you could call it that, from what I heard from enthusiasts the movie was crap) was released a few years back with N
Aug 28, 2016 fawn rated it really liked it
the north of the his dark materials series is one of my favourite fictional landscapes. i’ve missed lee scoresby so much!! and hester!! and iorek!

i loved this so much because i feel like it really gave insight into lee's character in a way that you couldn't see as well from lyra's perspective.

(view spoiler)
Jul 21, 2015 Scott rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
His Dark Materials is one of my top two or three fantasy series of all time so when I stumbled across this (a prequel novella to His Dark Materials) I grabbed it quickly.

It's a 100 page story with Lee Scoresby as the main character with some polar bears tossed in for fun. It was enjoyable but nothing memorable - I would recommend it. There was not a lot of world building and I think a lot would be lost if you hadn't read His Dark Materials first. Still, a good read which I'm happy I came across.
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Sep 21, 2008 Roxanne Hsu Feldman rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, 4-6grade
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
Nov 24, 2014 Coralie rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
This story is more developped than Lyra's Oxford, it has the feel of a western (hence the title, I suppose) but in the North, with polar bears and boats and a hot air balloon...Why not!
It's great to follow a younger Lee and his encounter with Iorek, and there are some nice additions of the kind there is in Lyra's Oxford. At the end, especially, we learn what Lyra is up to in her studies, it was a nice way to end the book :)
Gwen the Librarian
May 05, 2008 Gwen the Librarian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teenbooks, fantasy
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.
Thibaut Nicodème
Aug 02, 2015 Thibaut Nicodème rated it liked it
…Eh. It's a nice story, but I only feel like I want more of that universe now, and preferably from, you know, the future (Lyra's specifically, since we get hints that she made a dissertation on all this).
Sep 10, 2016 Cherie rated it it was ok
The only good thing about this book is that it is short.
Much better than 'Lyra's Oxford', this little book is actually a full story (a kind of short prequel story about how Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison met) and can stand up on its own two feet and not feel like a waste of money. It's longer, fleshed-out and well written, and felt much more like a return to the world I have missed so much. Now reading with adult eyes and knowledge, I also noticed more things that connected Lyra and Lee's world with ours, especially in terms of industrialisation and ...more
Jul 29, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This novella is a prequel of sorts to His Dark Materials; it is an episode in the past of characters Lee Scoresby and his dæmon Hester. It has little to do with the actual trilogy, it is more an expansion at the characters themselves.

The language is beautiful, it is simple, elegant, clever, humerous and sarcastic. Lee is a true gentleman and an honest fighter which adds a great deal of class to the story. The plot itself is one of corruption and scandal, with the right amount of wit and action
Rachel Lightwood
3.5 stars

Once Upon a Time in the North was the perfect accompaniment to an already enchanting series. I love the tone and style that Philip Pullman takes in his books. It adds to the complexity of the fantasy world that he has created.

The characters, as always, were wonderfully developed and cast out. I loved learning more about Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrinson, characters of Northen Lights. They were amusing, funny and witty. Hester was adorable and they were just generally decent characters.

Dec 06, 2012 Chaitra rated it really liked it
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
Jan 22, 2009 Josie rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Benjamin Thomas
Nov 21, 2014 Benjamin Thomas rated it really liked it
This is the second prequel to Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy and is almost twice as long as the first prequel story. It's a nice novella featuring Lee Scoresby and I enjoyed it quite a bit more than the first, Lyra's Oxford. I listened to the audio version and, as usual, was impressed by the British method of producing audio books, with full casts to do the voices. Pullman himself does the narration and he has a very pleasant reading voice.

I suspect they had a Brit doing the Texas voice
Laura Bang
Aug 14, 2010 Laura Bang rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 18, 2008 Steph rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
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
Danial Behzadi
Aug 17, 2015 Danial Behzadi rated it liked it
همونطور که پیشتر هم اشاره کردم،داستان چند سال پیش از وقایع مجموعهٔ نیروس اهریمنیاش اتّفاق میافته و توش ماجرای آشانایی لی اسکورسبی و یورک بینیسون شرح داده میده.
کلّیت داستان حول یک اتّفاق میافته، ولی با توصیفات خوبی که ازش شده به خوبی ما رو با تاریخ منطقهٔ شمالگان اروپا و بهخصوص سیستم تجاریاش در اون سالها آشنا میکنه.
به نظر میرسه کل این داستان، یکی از مراجعی باشه که لایرا سیلورتانگ ازش در پایاننامهٔ کارشناسی ارشدش در رشتهٔ تاریخ اقتصاد که در دانشکدهٔ تاریخ کالج سنسوفی آکسفورد گذرونده باشه.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials
  • Mothstorm (Larklight, #3)
  • The Toymaker
  • Escapement (Clockwork Earth #2)
  • Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant (Max Quick, #1)
  • The Manual of Aeronautics: An Illustrated Guide to the Leviathan Series
  • The Paradise Trap
  • The Penalty (Paul Faustino, #2)
  • The Prophecy Machine (Investments, #1)
  • Word of Honour (The Laws of Magic, #3)
  • The Red Wind (The Kingdom of the Lost #1)
  • The Fetch (The Runestone Saga, #1)
  • The Nervous System (Dewey Decimal #2)
  • The Locket of Dreams
  • The Museum of Mary Child
  • Legion of the Dead (Barnaby Grimes, # 3)
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...

Other Books in the Series

His Dark Materials (3 books)
  • The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
  • The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)
  • The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)

Share This Book