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The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  251,317 Ratings  ·  5,567 Reviews
Featuring brand-new material and extra pages, these two volumes join the 2006 deluxe edition of The Golden Compass to form a gorgeous collectible set of the trilogy. Each book features illustrations by renowned artist Ian Beck, along with a ribbon marker and new backmatter by Pullman.
Hardcover, Deluxe Edition, 326 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published July 22nd 1996)
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George Pullman's Church is a perversion of what the Church ought to be, and an excellent satire on what it too often is. Informed Christians know, and…morePullman's Church is a perversion of what the Church ought to be, and an excellent satire on what it too often is. Informed Christians know, and accept, that the Church is simultaneously Divine and preserved from the gates of Hell, and humanly full of traitors behind Her ramparts.

I've also seen it claimed, and thought it accurate, that the character called God in the third of the series has all the characteristics of Christianity's Satan, and so is suitable to be destroyed.

However, the author is a professed atheist, very hostile to the barely-veiled (for adults) Christianity of Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, finding them "racist" and "misogynistic" (which they are, to the sensitized 21st-c reader), who consciously set out to write a corrective. Whether Pullman is the opposite of Milton, who famously was "of the Devil's party without knowing it", I don't presume to say; I'm not doing an analysis for a class or a book club! I do know I was mildly annoyed by his militancy without having my enjoyment greatly reduced or my beliefs shaken.

Which may, of course, merely measure the smugness of my faith.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 02, 2008 Lucy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I am not a fan of forwarded emails. They frustrate me, because they usually come from the same group of people, people I like a great deal but who never send me a normal "hey, how's it going?" message. Just "Support our Troops" or "Tell every woman you know she's special" or "Microsoft is running a test and if you send this you could get a check for $1,000!" When I see the letters FWD in the subject line, I usually simply delete it.

I lost track of the number of emails I received telling me about
Jan 02, 2008 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high school and above
Not happy with the ending otherwise it would have gotten 5 stars. Well written, kept me hanging on the edge of my seat.
I have the third one downloaded on my Sony e-book and will start soon.

One thing I can say about Pullman is that he is a master at detail, at character, at setting. His imagination is immense.

I don't like revealing plots in a review so I won't tell what happens but I am impressed.

I can see where some might feel challenged regarding this book. It throws a lot of church dichotomy
Jan 07, 2008 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The second entry in a trilogy is often, in my opinion, the best. The author doesn't have to introduce the universe or the characters, as they did in the first installment, but they don't need to worry about wrapping up all the plot points either. Instead, the focus can be on 'the good stuff': elaborating on the story, teasing us more, giving action, chopping off Luke's hand and so on. Instead of the good stuff, in The Subtle Knife I feel as though we've had a bait and switch pulled on us.

In The
Jan 30, 2008 Annalisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalisa by: Ryan
What I did like about this book is that it starts with Lyra, a girl we have become acquainted with from another world, meeting Will, a boy from our world. Bringing the fantasy into our own reality was surreal and interesting. But only for a minute and then it became a bore. The story was slow and at some points stopped altogether to allow Pullman his theological preachings of anti-church and anti-god. If the story had been metaphorical I would have enjoyed it more, but it became less fiction and ...more
Jul 25, 2008 Brad rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
The strangest thing about Phillip Pullman's The Subtle Knife is that it doesn't feel like the second book in a series, making me wonder whether Pullman first wrote this in conjunction with The Amber Spyglass, then wrote The Golden Compass as a prequel, which then became the first book in the series once they were published.

Not that it matters.

What matters is that The Subtle Knife is too fast, too plot driven, and too much "a set-up" book to be an effective second book in the trilogy. Second bo
Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!*
So, I'm re-reading this trilogy for the first time in like twelve years! I was curious to see what my stance on it would be after all this time. I remember loving the first book as a kid and then being a little iffy about books two and three ... and well, I think I liked this second installment a bit more as an adult, but I do still feel it's not quite as strong as the first book.

There are still a lot of things I love about The Subtle Knife:

• The world-building continues to be very entrancing, e
Candace Wynell McHann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 10, 2010 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read this book I was young enough to still pronounce the 'b' in 'subtle', and now I can't look at this book without doing it again. I still think it sounds better that way - it gives the word a sort of dull power that I think depicts the mysterious magic of the knife much better than the silly, flippant 'suttle'. Saying 'sub-tle' opens up previously-unimagined worlds which extend indefinitely into the distance.

And this is what is good about this series. I've come up with a list of
5.0 stars. Fantastic sequel to The Golden Compass. The plot is expanded expontentially from the story line of the first book and becomes epic. Fantastic read. Highly recommended!!
Jan 07, 2012 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2010 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens

It is so surprising to me that the thing I found vastly irritating right at page one of the first of this series - the daemon - so quickly captivated me. You have this daemon in you, all of us, just as the story goes. And as a child it is anything, it has the fantastical vision that children have, there is nothing to stop it. But then we mostly grow up and we mostly lose the idea that we can do anything, we lose imagination, we lose the unconscious bravery of our childhood, we lose the i
The Subtle Knife which is the second volume in His Dark Materials trilogy fails to live up to the first installment.

In Nothern Lights (or The Golden Compass, as it was titled in the US) readers were treated to a rich alternative universe. It was clear that the Philip Pullman had an active imagination and was good at constructing his worlds just as any good fantasy author.

That's one of the reasons why I didn't enjoy this volume as much as the first one. As it was stated that the books will take p
Shayantani Das
Two very strange things happened last week. I gave I Am Half Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel two stars and am now giving this book five star. It is strange because the former book’s protagonist, my dear Flavia De Luce is my favorite obstinate pre teen. On the contrary, Lyra, another stubborn, precocious, pre-teen absolutely annoyed me in the previous book. Right now though, I can not for the life of me imagine why I did not like the first novel and Lyra. Well, at least I adore her right ...more
Jul 07, 2011 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a second reading of this book, I was disappointed. I remember liking it much more when I first read it about 6 years ago. Pullman’s imagination is again shown off in the alternate worlds he creates, but the story did not grab me like The Golden Compass did.

Lyra is so wonderfully written in The Golden Compass, but here she seems to be more ordinary and boring. I realize the author is trying to show her change and grow up, but all that happens is she gets dull.

I miss also the detailed descrip
Dec 30, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as fantastic all these years later. Still shocking, still clever, still more grown up than a lot of 'adult' books out there. This book doesn't shy away, doesn't talk down, and definitely doesn't disappoint.
Jun 12, 2012 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, hometown-ya
I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that, after those last 4 chapters or so, I will never be happy again.*

*OK, may be a slight exaggeration. Damn Pullman, you're worse than Ness.
For a moment, just imagine that after reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone you were so enthralled by the protagonist (even if you weren't bare with me), his friends and the entire world that has been established. It has moral undertones, but at it's heart it is a fun fantasy novel. Then you pick up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and suddenly Harry has been downgraded as a protagonist in favor of Dan, our brand new second main character. He's super awesome and whatnot and sort o ...more
David Schaafsma
Dec 11, 2015 David Schaafsma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is the middle book in the trilogy, and I like the first and third volumes more, big surprise. More exposition, less action, more trudging to final destinations, but you know, the writing is still exquisite, and it has surprises. One of them is that after focusing on Lyra in the first series, this second book opens with a focus on yet another central chapter, Will. When I first read this I was confused, and more than a little disappointed, as I saw a wonderful strong girl character shoved as ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #1), Philip Pullman
عنوان: نیروی اهریمنی اش کتاب دوم - خنجر ظریف؛
کتاب اول شامل دو جلد بخش اول و دوم: سپیدهی شمالی؛ .- جلد سوم کتاب دوم: خنجر ظریف؛ و جلد چهارم و پنجم دوربین کهربایی
I took a break of a few years between reading The Golden Compass and its sequel, The Subtle Knife. And the 2nd book is just not as good as the 1st one (which I rated with 5 stars). The 1st book felt magical, with daemons, talking bears and the mysterious substance called Dust. The 2nd book just feels like another modern fantasy. And to be honest, I wasn't fully able to grasp all of what Pullman was trying to convey about religion. I'll read the 3rd book to see what happens, and I'm keeping faith ...more
Dec 14, 2015 Britt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
HDM Reread Final 2
Hello friends! Welcome to Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally and I's first joint review for our His Dark Material Re-Read. This will be happening all December long so if you want to join in PLEASE DO SO! Here is the schedule we are following!

The Golden Compass Nov 30- Dec 5

The Subtle Knife Dec 7-12

The Amber Spyglass Dec 14-19.

Here we go...

Our Review:

So how long has it been since you first read the book?

B: Hmmmm. I was preggers with my son so it had to be 2010.

C: I read it immediately

Bookdragon Sean
"All through that day the witches came, like flakes of black snow on the wings of a storm, filling the skies with the darting flutter of their silk and the swish of air through the needles of their cloud-pine branches. Men who hunted in the dripping forests or fished among melting ice-floes heard the sky-wide whisper through the fog, and if the sky was clear they would look up to see the witches flying, like scraps of darkness drifting on a secret tide."


The first book was told, almost, exclusive
Eric Allen
When I was a kid, like 4 or 5, in that strange and mysterious era called the early '80s, two of the things I loved were a movie called Beastmaster, and a little cartoon that has been much made fun of in recent years for its unintentional homo-erotic subtext called He-Man. I was sooooo excited when Beastmaster 2 and Masters of the Universe came out in theaters, and I begged my parents to take me to see them. And you want to know what completely ruined those two movies? Well, they took something I ...more
¡Ese FINAL!!!

te deja con la NECESIDAD de saber que sigue.

Estos no son libros infantiles, no se que se le metió al editor o a quien se lo ocurrió la brillante idea de clasificarlos de esa forma, pero a mi parecer que tengamos por protagonistas a niños no hace que el libro ipso facto sea infantil. Esta vez el centro de la historia, al parecer, es la búsqueda del padre de Will, pero una vez mas Pullman nos muestra que su trama es mas complicada de lo que aparenta ser.

Los puentes entre los mundos
Xime García
Reseña de "Luces del Norte" (La Materia Oscura 1)
Reseña de "El Catalejo Lacado" (La Materia Oscura 3)

¿Habéis intervenido en la evolución humana?

¿Por qué?

Este segundo libro me gustó muchísimo más que el primero. Se dieron muchos giros, conocimos nuevos personajes y arribamos a nuevos mundos. Todo lo planteado en Luces del Norte gana mayor terreno (diría que colosal) y todo lo que pensábamos que podía ser de una forma, termina siendo de otra.

Sin embargo, puedo ver por qué hay alguno
Oct 02, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird like the wizard of oz, magical like Harry Potter, and interesting, unlike Chronicles of Narnia. The symbolism is so agog, so strange... Obviously, it makes for a great young adult novel!
Devanshi Gupta
Jan 24, 2016 Devanshi Gupta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, adventures, magic
Survival first, morals later
Can I just say that this book is getting a little too tragic?
When I had read the Golden Compass I had fallen in love with the main protagonist Lyra, the thought provoking concepts and the fantastical writing. Now I must say that I am a little disappointed. For one thing I would have expected a lot more of Lyra but all I got was this dominating main character Will who stole all the glory.
Granted Will was an interesting character and his mother was a dear, he was nothin
Feb 03, 2016 Lydia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Fucking cliffhanger.
And I don't have the next book at my immediate disposal. A real-life tragedy.

I've only ever read The Northern Lights before so this was all new to me yay! I think I probably enjoyed this one even more than The Northern Lights? There was more going on and more suspense. I just found it slightly more gripping than the first book in the trilogy.
The only thing that could frustrate me at times was the jumping between the different plots. And I get why that had to be done in the st

En esta segunda parte vemos un poquito más de magia y viajamos a mundos realmente nuevos. Me ha gustado mucho el argumento (o el planteamiento) de la novela, tal vez más que el de la primera parte, o al menos igual, pero me he sentido un poco perdida con tantos cambios de escenario, la verdad. Algunos de los pequeños giros argumentales que aparecen en la novela los fui anticipando desde capítulos anteriores y prácticamente nada me ha sorprendido. He echado en falta algo más de profundidad en alg
It has been a while since a book last left me with the desire to have my head trepanned and to become a shaman. And I suppose these days it is difficult to get on the training course and who knows if the pension scheme will be all that it was cracked out to be?

Reading I thought this business of the human mind and the flow of consciousness through a multiplicity of universes reminded me of something else. As always it takes some days for this kind of thought to percolate down to the answer - I re
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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 Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)

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“Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.” 205 likes
“For a human being, nothing comes naturally,' said Grumman. 'We have to learn everything we do.” 65 likes
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