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)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,633 ratings  ·  515 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 January 1st 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 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Thibaut Nicodème
…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).
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.

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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danial Behzadi
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.
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
It's always nice to revisit the worlds of His Dark Materials. These companion novellas he's released since the trilogy ended have been pleasant excursions, short & sweet. Relatively straightforward, but clever. Nice meditations on certain characters from the series. Pullman knows how to spin a good yarn. I would read 100 of these.
April Sarah
I've always loved Lyra Belacqua's world. Of the whole series, it was my favorite. So to get just a little more of it is great.

Lee is such a wonderful character, he is so entertaining and I understand how he can get into the messes he does.

Plus Iorek, I love Iorek.
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.
Pullman does it again. Is this guy a genius? The answer is absolutely. I listened to the dramatized audiobook of this, with Pullman narrating. I didn't think I could love his work even more after His Dark Materials, but I'm wrong. I love Scoresby's story. Such an endearing character. And as a native Texan I can attest that Pullman totally pinned down some innate qualities.
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
Jan 29, 2015 Xander rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
A short tale from the author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman. It happens well before the trilogy begins on an island in the north telling the story of how Lee Scoresby and his daemon Hester meet the polar bear, Iorek Byrnison, for the first time. Lee flies in on his balloon looking for work in order to afford buying more gas and some goods before taking off again. However, he soon learns that things aren't all as they appear on this island.

The story has wide range of different
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 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 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
  • The Manual of Aeronautics: An Illustrated Guide to the Leviathan Series
  • Predator's Gold (The Hungry City Chronicles, #2)
  • The Toymaker
  • The Bone Tiki (Aotearoa, #1)
  • The Prophecy Machine (Investments, #1)
  • The God Stalker Chronicles (Kencyrath, #1-2)
  • The Light Ages (The Aether Universe, #1)
  • Escapement (Clockwork Earth #2)
  • Legion of the Dead (Barnaby Grimes, # 3)
  • Clementine (The Clockwork Century, #1.1)
  • The Creature in the Case (Abhorsen, #3.5)
  • L'Œil du loup
  • Doctor Who: Sword of Orion (Big Finish Audio Drama, #17)
  • The Boggart (The Boggart, #1)
  • The Penalty (Paul Faustino, #2)
  • Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant (Max Quick, #1)
  • Tales from the Half-Continent (Monster Blood Tattoo, #3.5)
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 (4 books)
  • The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
  • The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)
  • The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)
  • Untitled Book of Dust Book 2
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) The Ruby in the Smoke (Sally Lockhart, #1)

Share This Book