A very entertaining read. I was drawn to read it from a feature of the movie which piqued my interest: daemons. There is a lot of possibility in thatA very entertaining read. I was drawn to read it from a feature of the movie which piqued my interest: daemons. There is a lot of possibility in that plot device, and Pullman uses it imaginatively for characterization, for introducing ideas and helping or hindering the characters. There is more nuance in it obviously than in the movie.
But I was more surprised by the major elements that were glossed over by the movie; Dust, the culture of the gyptians, the witches, much of the hidden motivations and alliances of the characters...
At a couple points in the book I felt there were some contrivances working to get Lyra alone, on to the next adventure, as if Pullman were racking his brains asking, "How can I separate Lyra from everyone yet again so that she can single-handedly save the day?" But this occurred in transitions, after a previous situation that was engrossing and convincing.
While the movie focuses on the spectacular battle scenes, some of the more captivating parts of the book take place during her voyage north with the gyptians, or in casual conversations about daemons.
One of the better works of juvenile fiction I've read....more
Though told through the lens of the Catholic Church as it survives centuries after nuclear holocaust, this book is less about faith and more about humThough told through the lens of the Catholic Church as it survives centuries after nuclear holocaust, this book is less about faith and more about human reason as it clashes with the forces of xenophobia, greed and ignorance.
We see a picture of the church as a giant institution, slow to change and long to deliberate, and an order of scholarly monks who sometimes bump against this inertia. Within the order are disparate personalities kept together by the code they've adhered to and the rule of the abbot. And outside the abbey's walls, humanity makes its slow trek from chaos to tribalism, feudalism and industrial advancement.
Rarely does a sci-fi book avoid hovering over the artifice of technology, or invest more in characters than in setting, but A Canticle does both masterfully. Miller's writing concerns itself more with the close personal revelations, fears, choices and conflicts of his characters than of inventing gizmos or distractions. Along the way we get periodic and sometimes brutal glimpses of the world outside the abbey, in stunning prose. Add to all this a touch of irony and comic pathos, and you have a profound depiction of humanity's best and worst impulses.
Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good tale....more
A very scathing, sound critique of religious faith. In the first few chapters Harris notes the connection between the faith of the "extremists" of relA very scathing, sound critique of religious faith. In the first few chapters Harris notes the connection between the faith of the "extremists" of religion and the credulity of the masses. Harris dissects Islam and explains many of the systemic problems of the Islamic world and the scriptural foundations of terrorism and war with the West. He then details how Christianity has stunted the ability of the Western world to meet this challenge.
The weakest part of this book is, in my view, the chapter that provides a version of ethics not grounded in religious tenets. Not because I consider his argument flawed, but because it is too short to do justice to the subject of ethics, but longer than necessary to prove that ethics can be grounded in something other than religious faith. It's easy to imagine other rational solutions to dealing with suffering and justice that use other tenets. Although the discussion is solid and well-rounded, the pace of the book hits a stall at this point.
Some might find the final chapter of the book, which looks at the objective evidence of expanding consciousness, as striking a different chord than the rest of the book, but it was pretty in line with my own beliefs and experience.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who agrees they have a moral duty to explore the validity of their own belief system. And to everyone else, on the hope that they may see the value in it anyway....more