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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)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,119 ratings  ·  482 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 April 2008)
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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.
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.

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
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
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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 :)
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
Dave Logghe
Another fun adventure in the His Dark Materials universe. I kind of wish there was a series of short stories from this universe that explored the characters' histories. Or even just a "buddy cop" type series with Scoresby and Iorek.
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
Cheryl Gatling
This is a companion piece to the His Dark Materials trilogy, an "extra" story that didn't fit in to the big books. Lee Scoresby, who is a character in those books, is the main character here. He has won a balloon in a poker game, and is flying it around looking for work as an aeronaut. He flies into a frontier town, and this is what happens. There is about to be an election, and the main contender is a corrupt man who is running on a platform of removing the armored polar bears, so he is stirrin ...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
The engravings by John Lawrence that illustrate this book may have been my favorite part: I was charmed from the tiny first-page illustration of a descending balloon on. Look at this one: the snowy sky, those smoking chimneys, the windows and their shutters, the lantern on the corner: I love it all.

Not that the story is bad, but I didn't love it. It probably would have helped if I'd read Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy more recently: this book is set in that world, and gives the backstory o
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I love Philip Pullman so I cannot possibly be objective when reviewing his books. Set several decades before the events of His Dark Materials, Once upon a time in the North tells a story of Lee Scorsby (young and audacious aspiring aeronaut) and Hester (his awesome, kick-ass daemon) meeting our favorite armored bear Iorek Byrnison. Now if you’re not a fan, and these names mean nothing to you, you are very much unlikely to enjoy Once upon a time in the North. It’s short, westerny story that is cl ...more
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.
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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...

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)
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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