I've just finished The Golden Compass. I can't believe I waited so long to read this book. It was simple yet lovely, with interesting characters, sett...moreI've just finished The Golden Compass. I can't believe I waited so long to read this book. It was simple yet lovely, with interesting characters, setting, plot. It was so engrossing that I managed to read the last third of it at the courthouse, between jury duty sessions.
I'm sure that a large part of my sheer pleasure at reading this comes from the setting itself, having long been fascinated by the far North, but I think there's quite enough there for those less enamored of snow, ice, and polar bears to also love this book.
Can't wait to get started on the next book!
The Subtle Knife follows through on what is set up in The Golden Compass (although with significantly less snow and fewer polar bears). The characters continue to gain depth, the plot moves forward quickly and in interesting ways, and the world-building is fabulous.
I really like the way Pullman plays with big and important ideas about the basic nature of reality and about faith without the book ever feeling preachy, heavy-handed, or overly intellectual. Moreover, he plays with these ideas at the same time. In Lyra's world, Scholars study experimental theology, which is in our world known as physics. I'm incredibly curious to find out how Pullman elaborates on this connection between science and religion, between these two different ways of exploring our universe and creating meaning, in the final book of the series.
Wow. I mean, wow. I enjoyed this book, this series, so much that I cannot wait until I get a chance to read them again. It's a beautiful rendering of the process of coming-of-age and exploration of both what makes us human and what religion can offer us. Pullman's concept of "the Republic of Heaven," as opposed to the kingdom of Heaven is moving and one that I will want to return to.
I highly recommend this series. If you love fantasy, you can't not love this. If you like fantasy, this is the perfect series to illustrate what fantasy really can do. If you don't like fantasy, well, perhaps you should. Perhaps you will after reading Pullman's trilogy. Because this is fantasy that provides escape to another and very interesting world, but it is not merely escapist fantasy. It is also fantasy that speaks directly of and to our world and our experiences. (less)
Wild Seed--The first part of this collection of four of Butler's novels turned out to be interesting, but not great. I liked the ideas she raised thro...moreWild Seed--The first part of this collection of four of Butler's novels turned out to be interesting, but not great. I liked the ideas she raised through the novel, but the development of the characters and the plot was somewhat lacking in the end.
I'm looking forward to reading the other books in this series to see where she goes with the ideas set up in Wild Seed.
Mind of My Mind takes the premise of Wild Seed and creates a much more interesting novel. Taking us from one mind to another, Wild Seed creates interest by developing the abilities set up in the first novel and by introducing us more intimately to a greater range of characters. Read more on my blog: [http://cmt2779.livejournal.com/89269....].
Clay's Ark is by far the best of the set of books collected here. It can work as a standalone novel, only related to the previous two books in that it shares the same world and has the events of those two books in its history. They are not crucial to the development of this novel. More here: [http://cmt2779.livejournal.com/90089....]
Patternmaster, the final novel in this series brings together themes and historical events in an interesting way. Butler doesn't really resolve all the issues she has raised, but that is not a criticism in this context. Instead, this lack of a concrete resolution gives the book more resonance because it, like all good political novels, forces the reader to think about how the issues exist in our own world because the boundary between book and real world isn't entirely clear. It is a real accomplishment that this political element doesn't take over the novel--it is still an interesting story of the characters and the time described--and is able to be effective even in a novel set on a distant and very different future Earth. There's much more about this and the whole series here: [http://cmt2779.livejournal.com/90295....]. (less)