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His Dark Materials #3

The Amber Spyglass

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Will is the bearer of the knife. Now, accompanied by angels, his task is to deliver that powerful, dangerous weapon to Lord Asriel - by the command of his dying father.

But how can he go looking for Lord Asriel when Lyra is gone? Only with her help can he fathom the myriad plots and intrigues that beset him.

The two great powers of the many worlds are lining up for war, and Will must find Lyra, for together they are on their way to battle, an inevitable journey that will even take them to the world of the dead...

465 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published October 10, 2000

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About the author

Philip Pullman

196 books23k followers
As a passionate believer in the democracy of reading, I don't think it's the task of the author of a book to tell the reader what it means.

The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and the thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going to explain.

Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the "Once upon a time" business.

Philip Pullman is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He lives in Oxford, England.

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Profile Image for Maciek.
558 reviews3,226 followers
October 5, 2018
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

-T.S. Eliot

Warning: Contains spoilers.

The Amber Spyglass is the final volume in His Dark Materials trilogy.

I really enjoyed Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass as it is titled in the US), the first volume of the trilogy. Pullman introducted us to a fantastic world of great scope. It was suspenseful, the presented world was enchanting, and Northern Lights was pregnant with interesting ideas and concepts - that's why I chose to read all three.

The next one, The Subtle Knife was laborious indeed. Most of what made Northern Lights wonderful was dropped - there was no world building in this volume, the characters seemed stalled and the book was a chore. It was a transitional piece so some of these things might be excused, and I approached the final installment expecting a grand payoff.

The Amber Spyglass is no Return of The King. It's the ugly baby that came out of Pullman's imagination and his hatred of religion. The novels is such a tremendous let-down that it's hard to decide where to start a list of its failings.

Lyra, the cocky and bratty protagonist of Northern Lights disappears almost entirely. Lyra from The Amber Spyglass is almost fullly submissive to Will. Oh Will! What shall we do? Will! Oh Will! Where is the girl who rescued children and planned it all on her own? Here Lyra doesn't seem to be able to do anything without depending on Will.

The "redemption" of Mrs. Coulter is totally unconvincing. The Grand Evil Lady (who was so great in Northern Lights!) suddenly out of the blue starts loving Lyra. This is just so ridiculously uncharacteristic and unbelieveable. The great villain is reduced to a mere puppet in Pullman's hands, who seems to have forgotten how to hold the strings.

Not that other characters are handled expertly. Aside from Lyra who was reduced to a dependand sissy and Will, the grand young adult fiction boy-on-a-quest stereotype Pullman introduces more and more characters like the new race of Mulefa, the bug-like creatures. He then goes on a tangent describing their culture, which while interesting doesn't add much to the plot.

The figure of Father Gomez, who is sent by the Church to kill Lyra is just a cheap way of maintaing tension. He never faces his victim and dies from the hand of a character we believed to be dead several hundred pages previously. His sections are nothing but filler.

The theological questions are never developed. Pullman literally stated in the previous volume that "every Church is evil", without showing why. He didn't show how Chuch uses religion to manipulate the consciences of people - we are treated only to Pullman's version of the Church, which is evil because the author told us it's evil. Everyone associated with Church is EVIL at a cartoonish level. Mother Theresa has evaporated from Pullman's cosmos, and took all the good priests along with her.

There's no conflict inside the Magisterium - no good voices are drowned by the bad ones - because everyone is bad. All of these evils are dressed in the not-at-all veiled robes of Christianity, especially the Catholic Church. These evils are never really shown, we're just told they are evil. Oddly, there are no evil Muslim priest or bomb-throwing Buddhist monks. In Pullman's world there is only one religion, and it is THE BAD ONE. As one of the characters says: "The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all."
Doesn't sound very convincing.

Curiously, the church seems to have little impact on Lyra's world. Though Pullman wants to lay all of the evil of mankind on Christian religion and God he doesn't bother with providing plenty of evidence. The Church does evil things, but it doesn't get into the way of the Armored Polar Bears who live a godless existence, or the clans of Witches who are into paganism. Neither the Polar Bears nor the Witches seem to be particularly bothered by the Evil church - The Witches seem to love their country, and don't seem to be forced or isolated by the church. They seem to love the north pole where they live.

Now, in a world dominated by an incredibly powerful religious organization which corrupts everything, one would expect that everyone would be forced to follow the enforced religion and actively participate in its rituals - masses, etc. Religion would be a part of the daily life, as vital as a breath when you practice it, and as deadly as lack of it when your faith is not strong.
In Lyra's world, NO ONE prays or goes to any sort of religious service. In a world where religious domination is SAID TO BE thriving, I'd expect it to be obvious. If religion is the source of all the evil in the world I expected it to be omnipresent. But it isn't. Except Pullman said so. So we have to believe him, eh?

Pullman goes on a specific tangent to discuss the very issue of God. God is said not to be the original creator, but the first of the angels to appear. He portras him as some sort of terrorist, who lied about his origins and holds the reins of Heaven in his strong hands. However, it is all told to us; we never see it played out. When God makes an appearance, he is shown to be a demented, old angel which vanishes almost immediately. We are never shown the man behind the curtain, the malevolent presence who is the source of all trouble. We are supposed to accept, that no matter what THIS is TRUE and REAL. Is "God" a sadist? We may never known, we can only accept what Pullman tells us, because he showes his truth down our throats.
The angels are shown as extremely ineffectual. They can't really hurt anything, which makes us think again: How exactly did "God", who is just the first angel, become so powerful? There are many more questions about the angels (how did Baruch and Metatron became angels from men, but no one else did?) but Pullman never bothers with them.

Then there is the separate tangent of dr Mary Mallone, a former nun who rejected the Church and all faith entirely because she ate some marzipan and kissed an Italian. Whoa! Maybe if she ate an Italian and kissed the marzipan I could understand the Church denouncing her (the convent would grow slimmer and slimmer) but it doesn't make much sense. In fact this is some of the poorest reasoning I've read in a while. Can't you believe in God, practive your faith and enjoy the world at the same time? Millions of people do, but Pullman apparently think you can't. I could understand Mary quitting being a nun, even quitting organized religion because of the "imposed" restraints, but stopping believing in God because of marzipan? This is not a strawman argument, it's a marzipanman argument, and unfortunately it ain't sweet.

Mary's story stirs some tension in Will and Lyra, who suddenly realize that they're meant for each other (at age of 12 eternal love is serious business, mind you) and the story morphs into a contrived retelling of The Fall of Man, though I don't understand why Lyra is said to be the next Eve. Of course she finds love (with almost no build up), she gives it up for the sake of the worlds (hers and Will's). I think she resists the temptation to continue their relationship to help everyone build the new Eden, or the Republic of Heaven, but it's a tenuous connection at best. Not to mention that twelve year old children suddenly start talking like certain older men. Blah.

This is getting long, so I'll wrap it up in Pullman fashion. An angel shows up, answers all of the questions and the children return to their separate worlds, promising that they will never forget each other and visit the same place in their worlds to remains as close as possible. In Lyra's world generous foster parents magically turn up, and she sets up to build a godless existence where people could enjoy themselves as if anything was stopping them before. DOH!

I think that these books had great potential. They could show children the dangers of corrupt individuals who use religion to influence and control people. Unfortunately, Pullman took it all away with his absolute lack of polemic and blatant one-sideness and all we got were some puppets running around and spewing his personal sentiments in this incredibly boring and contrived slog. The guy's obviously an imaginative author, but his bigotry got the better of him here and I can only wish that Norhtern Lights was a standalone.

Profile Image for Paul.
Author 525 books366 followers
January 20, 2008
Okay....first...make no mistake, this review contains spoilers.

Now, having read the first book (5 stars) and the second book (3 stars) I had some hope for this book. But, this book was an excruciating head-hammering look at an author making all the wrong moves.

1: Lyra's sublimation to Will becomes utterly complete. Hell, women are supposed to bend to men, aren't they? Lyra quit taking a step without fearing it would cause Will to raise his eyebrow.

2: Lyra's mother (who had been SUCH a wonderfully evil character) and father both find ultimate redemption in their love for Lyra. Whoopee. In fact, EVERYBODY finds redemption in this novel. Everybody. The evilest creatures in existence, the harpies in the lands of the dead, are transformed by Lyra's music in about 3 pages, and become her stalwart and forever allies. Cripes.

3: Lyra and Will gettin' it on! Yeah, hello? We knew from point one that Lyra and Will would eventually get busy...did it have to be Sex That Saves the Universe? Cosmic Humping That Restores the Fabric of All Reality? Wait, was I supposed to be taking LSD when I read that part? Damn, dude, you should have packaged a tab with the book!

4: More damn characters. More damn MAIN characters. Suddenly we've got Important People on Bugs. Pullman continues to pull in so many disparate characters and plot threads that EVERYTHING is diluted into a big stinky morass.

5: Theology aspect. One of the reasons I was attracted to this series was because of Pullman's strongly anti-religious take...the man wrote a blurb for Dawkins' "God Delusion" for freak's sake. So, umm, why was this book sooooo religious? The dust? Well, the dust is all-knowing, even of the future. And there is indeed a land of the dead. So, we have afterlife, and pre-ordainment, in an anti-religious book? Sweet, how does that work? Well, it doesn't. Angels are flying around, and they're the good guys. No, wait, they're the bad guys. Well, no matter, I mean, there IS a god, but he didn't make all creation. That was, apparently, maybe, the dust. Seems to me that if you're praying to dust, rather than God, it doesn't make any difference. Religion is religion, and this was a religious book.

6: Easy ending. Okay...I saw most aspects of the ending coming from about 700 pages to go. Couldn't Pullman throw me some surprises beyond How Damn Long He Took to Get Around To It?

7: Easy ending, take 2: Let's see, Will and Lyra fight against God and All the Angels, against the pull of their own daemons, against not only all creation, but all of creation on multiple universes, they lose friends to bullets, explosions, souls ripped out, and a myriad other ways as legions of people die to either protect them personally, or what they stand for, the two of them travel to the freakin' Lands of the Dead in order to remain together, and they eventually get it on in all sorts of transcendant-garden-of-eden ways, restoring the entire multi-verse with the Glory of Their Hot Sweaty Action, and then....

and then...

and then an angel says, "Oh, you guys can't stay together, cuz a some bad stuff would happen then."

And in ONE PAGE they say, "Jeepers, that's too bad. Any way around it?"

Angel says "Nope."

And they don't even try. It's just ta-ta, been good knowing you.

That's it.

Well, trilogy, it actually hasn't been so good knowing you.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
375 reviews2,787 followers
January 13, 2023
For a more in depth review, check out this video: https://youtu.be/-3aD5b4j5ro Plus meet my daemon (I mean cat)!

#1 Philip Pullman fan here! So how is Mr. Pullman going to pull together the entire His Dark Materials Trilogy? We will find out.

Some have said that the pacing is a bit off in this book; however, please keep in mind that Philip Pullman wrote this book back before the internet, before YouTube, before Smart phones. That being said the first 150 pages were a bit slow but definitely worth the wait. Lyra and team are simply delightful. Pullman should write a book about how an author can make you care about characters because I felt so personally invested in Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon. Please note that there is simply a DELIGHTFUL audiobook of Pullman reading The Amber Spyglass so make sure to check that out.

After reading The Last Battle by CS Lewis, I was thinking how that book could have been written better, and I immediately thought of The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. In a way, The Amber Spyglass is a retelling of The Last Battle, an epic good versus evil, only The Amber Spyglass is better and not racist nor sexist.

The Amber Spyglass felt like it came out of my dreams. Pullman is seriously the Mr. Miyagi of writing. Well done, Pullman! Next time I am in London, we should have a tea. My treat!

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Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,669 followers
February 21, 2012
My entire review could be this: Phillip Pullman's "The Amber Spyglass" is one of the poorest closing books of a trilogy ever written.

But I feel compelled to continue. At one point, I actually stopped reading "The Amber Spyglass," put it down and vowed not to finish, but I wanted to be able to slag off the book with authority, so finishing became a must. And I even had a slight hope that Pullman could save his series

I did finish, but it never got any better.

Mulefa? Gallivespians? Iorek Byrnison fixing the incredibly fragile subtle knife? The knife breaking at all? Mrs. Coulter continuing to live? The incredible coincidence of everyone meeting the same Cittàgazze kids? It was all too much, and it only got worse as the book went on.

Thematically it was equally frustrating. There has been so much talk about Pullman's anti-religiosity, but the most offensive part of The Amber Spyglass is Pullman's portrayal of women. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Pullman is a misogynist , but he does seem to have a poor understanding of women.

The five main women in "His Dark Materials" are a catalogue of feminine stereotypes. Lyra, as her name so clumsily suggests, is a consummate liar, who eventually becomes a moony-eyed, love sick teen, subordinating herself to her lover Will. Mrs. Coulter is a manipulative femme fatale whose only hint of goodness is her inexplicable maternal instinct. Mary Malone is the pure ex-nun full of kindness and curiosity, blessedly open to all new things. Seraphina Pekkala, the loyal witch, is the classic "heart of gold" character (usually she'd be a whore with a heart of gold, but in a kids book witch with a heart of gold will do). Then there is Mrs. Parry, Will's mom, and her madness (other women appear in the story more, but they're not as important as Will's mom). There are few if any shades of gray in these women, and as the book drew ever nearer the close I found myself hoping desperately for the women to do something unexpected. My wish went unfulfilled.

Maddening, frustrating, and a great disappointment because of what it promised, China Mieville got it right when he made his list of 50 books every good Marxist should read and said, "in book three, 'The Amber Spyglass,' something goes wrong. It has excellent bits, it is streets ahead of its competition… but there's sentimentality, a hesitation, a formalism, which lets us down."

On second thought, Mieville was too nice. "The Amber Spyglass" should be avoided like a plate of raw chicken meat on a hot African day. Read "The Golden Compass" and skip the rest. Period.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.2k followers
November 20, 2017
I would not have read this book were it not for my friend Pat E. who told me several years ago that it was one of the best books she had ever read, and also said it was the first children’s book to have won England’s prestigious Whitbread Prize for Literature. So I read the whole series over the next couple years, and in this process discovered that one of my English department’s medievalists said it was one of his favorite series. Did I know, he asked, that Pullman was actually in conversation with John Milton’s Paradise Lost as he wrote the series, which came to be called His Dark Materials (the title from Milton), particularly in The Amber Spyglass? Nope, I said, I had had no idea, so I paid some attention to that aspect of the book as I read it. A little attention, I say, because I am no Milton scholar, and how many are who would be reading it? Nor had I read more than the sections of Paradise Lost I had read in the survey Brit lit course I had taken decades ago.

Now, many years later, I and my family have invested some 37 hours listening to the audio version CDs of His Dark Materials narrated by Pullman himself. Last summer, the first book, The Golden Compass, last fall the second in the series, The Subtle Knife, and now the third, The Amber Spyglass. Which I loved, and then I find that one of the Goodreads reviewers I much respect hated this series, and a little Goodreads argument through his highly critical review ensued. So I at one point read his review and the subsequent hubbub, mostly pushback on him from Pullman fans. I went back and looked at his review to see if I might, on reflection, change my mind. I did review the book and disagree with him, as will happen here, obviously. I learned from that review, but I still think it’s a great book. And reread this review in November 2017 as I wait for my family copy of Pullman's fall 2017 release, The Book of Dust, that is part of this world.

One place to start in thinking of this book is that Pullman, unlike C.S. Lewis, another prominent fantasy writer, is as he refers to himself, “an atheist, or agnostic atheist.” Lewis, a Christian, once an outspoken atheist, recounts his sudden epiphany of faith in Surprised by Joy. This review is being written by an agnostic once raised in the Calvinist (Dutch) Christian Reformed Church. I not only know that tradition, but actually taught in Christian schools, even taught classes on the Bible in them for a couple years. I say that not to establish credibility on theological/religious issues Pullman explores here, but because sometimes you read a book more through your life, “subjectively,” than you might read other books. I am pretty familiar with some of the territory Pullman treads.

Theological issues, in a children’s book? Well, this children’s book thing, that’s marketing, according to Pullman. He intended to have adults—all ages—read this trilogy, too. And we should, and we do. Since in many ways he is commenting on Christian/spiritual traditions as they are evident in literature, Pullman wants to be in conversation with people who have read John Milton’s Paradise Lost and/or C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, two of the best known epics in the history of English literature. His Dark Materials is also an epic novel series, but it is, like much literature, talking in various ways to the authors whose literature that it is built on. You don’t need to have read those works, for real, but it doesn’t hurt, either.

In this case, Pullman has written a version of Paradise Lost, an inversion of the central arc of that tale. Milton seemed to claim, in keeping with the Calvinist tradition, that the single terrible shaping moment in human history was the invention of the myth of “original sin”—a sexual sin—of Adam and Eve. Satan, an angel who fell from Heaven, engineers this act. In Amber Spyglass, Pullman has Mary “tempt” Lyra through her story of falling in love. Lyra “gives in” to this temptation as she realizes she loves Will (though the American publisher amazingly cut some of the details of Lyra’s physical responses to being with Will!).

Pullman thinks the Church got it wrong from the beginning and throughout history in obsessively focusing on sexuality as “sinful”. To split the body from the soul as he suggests Christianity does is for Pullman a horrible, horrible mistake. Materiality is a good thing, Pullman says; the Earth should not be seen as a temporary place to wait until you get to the really good place, Heaven, but a place where we should fully, existentially, engage. “Dæmons” are a cool aspect of this story, sort of spirit companions, usually in the shape of animals or birds, and all humans have them, like souls, and when you are young they can shift. It's a kind of identity conceit, as identity in youth is in flux, in construction. As Pullman sees it, The Church wants to separate you from your (individualized; think of it as a personal relationship to the spiritual realm, or God) dæmon, metaphorically, and this is a horrible thing, in Pullman’s view.

Pullman also thinks the Church—and specifically the Roman Catholic Church, though almost all Christian theology is pretty consistent—in deciding their binary view of good and evil is the “right” one, is narrow and simplistic. His view—in part supported by contemporary physics—is that there are multiple spiritual worlds and traditions, all of which should be supported and celebrated. Pullman favors diversity of all kinds—spiritual, cultural, biological. We are different and interdependent or we expire as a human race.

His key central concept for a deeper relationship to the universe is “dust” which would seem to be a synonym for consciousness, or wisdom, though it is potentially also visible in the natural world with the right attitude (and/or a Steam Punkish instrument, such as is the Amber Spyglass). Instead of Christianity's idea of One All-Powerful God, Pullman flips that script to show us the limitation of that view through the specter of The Authority, who is frail, weak, sniveling, small-minded, associated with a bad group from the Church called The Magisterium who wants to control your minds and souls and bodies. Ultimately the series is about growing up in the face of an oppressive adult religious soul-killing authority. We need more connection to the natural world than Christianity seems to have fostered, Pullman insists. And we need more joy and a spirit of adventure and discovery and imagination than the Church would seem to have given us. We need to stop thinking our bodies and the material world are somehow just merely bad.

So is Pullman’s view anti-Christian, or anti-spiritual? I don’t think so, not really. He’s about expanding spiritual horizons rather than getting rid of them. And he knows how to have fun, in this rollicking adventure. And he loves Milton, too, though he disagrees with him. He just prefers William Blake’s more complex cosmology. The epigraphs before every chapter are wonderful, perfect, a guide to the argument that is coiled deeply in his story. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, endorsed the series, calling the books instructive, saying they are in fact about the death of a false God and the upholding of true Christian values. Williams even went so far as to say that Pullman’s series should be taught in schools. Fundamentalists, needless to say, do not agree. But the imagination is key to spiritual health for Pullman. He does not think most religions value imagination.

In this final volume Lyra and Will travel to the World of the Dead to visit Roger, and Will’s father, which is maybe the single most powerful sequence of the whole series. Along the way, assumptions about the good or evil of individual characters of the book are questioned. Is Mrs. Coulter, Lyra’s mother, evil? Is Lord Asriel good? What are the limitations of such categories? Lyra is a liar, which is a good thing in some situations; fiction is a wonderful and useful adaptive strategy in the world, but lies, or false stories, can also be hurtful. Will is a good guy, but he also kills people. The Magisterium has sent Father Gomez to kill Lyra and Will; he seems closer to a completely bad guy than almost anyone in this tale, but even he claims to want the best for kids. The former nun and physicist Mary Malone is a pretty good person, a guide for Will and Lyra in the absence of The Magisterum. Iorok Byrnison, the flying armored bear who has special capabilities with metal-working, once a (captive) drunk, is a great and mostly good character.

I prefer the sheer imaginative joy of the first volume, The Golden Compass, with its strong girl character Lyra; she shares the stage with boy Will in the later two books. The last book is less a children’s book than the first, and it’s more serious, a little less fun. But the last book is powerful, and often moving. Who wouldn’t want to have one final talk with those we love who have died? The plot in this last book sort of rambles slowly along, contemplative and reflective as it intends to be. After being primarily an adventure story, The Amber Spyglass slows down and helps resolve all the central issues. But I still truly loved it. I maybe especially loved it because I heard Pullman's sweet and loving and gentle voice on tape shape the narration, as well as all the wonderful characters read by great actors, so well acted.

Pullman also has a bone to pick with C. S. Lewis, whose fantasy children’s series The Narnia Chronicles I grew up loving. Pullman told The New York Times in 2000: “When you look at what C.S. Lewis is saying, his message is so anti-life, so cruel, so unjust. The view that the Narnia books have for the material world is one of almost undisguised contempt. At one point, the old professor says, ‘It’s all in Plato’ — meaning that the physical world we see around us is the crude, shabby, imperfect, second-rate copy of something much better. I want to emphasize the simple physical truth of things, the absolute primacy of the material life, rather than the spiritual or the afterlife.” I loved growing up (in the bosom of a Calvinist church!) reading The Narnia Chronicles, and I don't recall all the harshness to which Pullman refers, but I read it when I was steeped in that theology. So he may have a point there.

Pullman argues finally, for embracing a “republic of heaven” here on Earth. This is Blake--and not Milton-- talking through Pullman, advocating a pluralistic way of life and not a monotheistic religion. Be God where you are, Pullman says. Pullman’s view is closer to Buddhism, and the I Ching and existentialist Christianity (think Kierkegaard). Renounce (the One) or False God, he says, and instead Be God, which as I see it is one interpretation of what Christianity is saying a Christian ought to become. No guru, no teacher, as Van Morrison sings. In the end, Lyra, having lost her ability to read the alethiometer intuitively, decides to return to Oxford to study alethiometry, which might just be another word for how Pullman sees fantasy, as the narrative exploration of multiple worlds and dimensions and truths. In the end, Lyra and her dæmon Pantalaimon, who has taken the permanent form of a pine marten, resolve to build the republic of Heaven on Earth. In the light of the ongoing destruction of the planet, this is a hopeful vision of how we should be living the spiritual life, honoring the environment.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.5k followers
January 28, 2022
The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3), Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials is an epic trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman consisting of Northern Lights (1995, published as The Golden Compass in North America), The Subtle Knife (1997), and The Amber Spyglass (2000).

It follows the coming of age of two children, Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they wander through a series of parallel universes.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و چهارم ماه آگوست سال2008میلادی

عنوان: سری نیروی اهریمنی اش کتاب سوم دورب‍ی‍ن‌ ک‍ه‍رب‍ای‍ی‌؛ نویسنده: فلیپ پولمن؛ مترجم: فرزاد فرید؛ تهران، کتاب پنجره، سال1384 تا سال1385؛ در دو جلد؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیا - سده20م

ک‍ت‍اب‌ اول‌ سری شامل دو جلد ب‍خ‍ش‌ ا��ل‌ و دوم: «س‍پ‍ی‍ده‌ ی‌ ش‍م‍ال‍ی»‌؛ جلد سوم ک‍ت‍اب‌ دوم‌: «خ‍ن‍ج‍ر ظری‍ف»‌؛ و جلد چهارم و پنجم «دورب‍ی‍ن‌ ک‍ه‍رب‍ای‍ی‌»؛

کتاب‌ها به ترتیب: کتاب نخست: سپیده شمالی (سال1995میلادی، در آمریکای شمالی با عنوان قطب نمای طلایی؛ منتشر شده است)، کتاب دوم: خنجر ظریف (سال1997میلادی)، و کتاب سوم: دوربین کهربایی (سال2000میلادی)، نام دارند؛ داستان در مورد دو نوجوان، به نام‌های «لایرا بلاکوا»، و «ویل پری» است؛ که در دو دنیای موازی زندگی می‌کنند، و وارد ماجراهایی حماسی می‌شوند؛

دکتر «مری مالون» به دنیای «مولفا»ها وارد شده، و با آنها دوست می‌شود؛ او با استفاده از نوعی روغن و چوب، دو آیینه می‌سازد، که با یک وجب فاصله دادن به آنها از هم، می‌تواند غبار را ببیند، و آنها را با استفاده از چوب بامبو، به هم می‌چسباند، و دوربین کهربایی ساخته می‌شود؛ «لایرا» و «ویل» به دنیای مردگان می‌روند، و از دنیای مردگان، پنجره ‌ای به بیرون باز می‌کنند، تا مردگان بتوانند جزئی از زندگی شوند؛ طی رویدادهایی «لرد عزریل» و «ماریسا کولتر»، برای نجات جان دخترشان «لایرا»، جان خود را از دست میدهند؛ و ...؛ «ویل» و «لایرا» عاشق یکدیگر می‌شوند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ 07/11/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 28 books13.4k followers
June 21, 2011
- George, wake up!

- Ungh... what time is it?

- I think about four am. You were having a nightmare.

- Mmmn.

- Hey, you're shaking. Come over here. It's alright. Do you want to tell me about it?

- Ann Coulter and Satan jump into the void and pull him down with them. The evil archangel.

- I'm sorry?

- Ah, it doesn't make much sense, does it? But it did in the dream. It was even noble and tragic. I think.

- What else happened?

- Well, I know I shouldn't have stayed up reading that physics book. There was something about dark matter and angels. I think angels were dark matter? But they weren't dark when you looked at them in the right way. I built a sort of telescope and I could see them.

- You should have come to bed with me. Remember that next time.

- I will! And, ah, let me see, God lived in a Calabi-Yau manifold...

- A what?

- One of those twisty six-dimensional shapes that string theorists like. I showed you a picture, right?

- Oh yes, now I know what you mean. So God's in his... whatever... and all is well with the world?

- No, he's tired and he has some kind of accident. That was a good thing though.

- You're still not making any sense.

- I know, I know! And they can't ever see each other again. They're in different branes. That was so sad.

- Different brains?

- Branes. B-R-A-N-E-S. You know, parallel universes floating in multi-dimensional space. Anyway, he has to return to his brane and he's lost her forever.

- George, try to go back to sleep. We'll be so tired tomorrow.

- I just want to write this down before I forget it. It was really good. I think I could turn it into a book.

- Tomorrow, George.

- Okay, it'll wait until the morning. And you know what?

- What?

- I'm so glad we're in the same space-time continuum.

- Oh George, that's the most romantic thing anyone's ever said to me!

- Heh. I thought you'd like it. Goodnight sweetheart.

- Goodnight George.

- Mm.

- Mm.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,619 reviews4,958 followers
March 4, 2011
i just decided to copy-and-paste a response i wrote regarding this book in one of the GR groups. that is inexcusably lazy. so sue me! also, it is full of SPOILERS.

- i think one of the most unique things about this book is the fact that one protagonist is a liar and the other is a murderer. not only is that uncommon, particularly in YA lit, it is transgressive. i like how the tools that help these two in their amazing adventures are ones that are normally displayed by villains. and without their ruthless abilities to lie and to kill, they wouldn't have survived. to put these abilities in the hands of the protagonists is one way of showing that despite having negative attributes, a person can still be good and still be heroic. the characters are as complex as real people in that they are not all good. and in many ways, both the ability to lie and the ability to kill come back to haunt both children (particularly the latter) - they don't just get a free pass by the author. but nor are their flaws portrayed in a black-and-white way. many children lie. many people in the world have killed. but doing either does not make them automatically villains. i like that as well.

- as far as the author's atheism goes, it doesn't bother me and i think the series is quite separate from his point of view. the "God" that is destroyed is not actually God, he is a despot angel gone to seed, an imposter. i actually found the book to be exceedingly spiritual and very much connected to the ideas of love for humanity, love for nature, even love for spirituality in its own way. now obviously pullman is a curmudgeonly atheist...but i don't see those views shoved down readers' throats during the series. what i see is an ability to use ideas of 'angels' and 'heaven' without sentiment and to even subvert Christian paradigms....without actually saying 'There Is No God or Heaven'. that may be implied, but i think it can be argued that the opposite is also implied....that there may be a God and a Heaven that is above all of these angel hierarchies, all of the warfare.

- as a God-lover myself (i would hesitate to call myself 'Christian'), i am always on the look-out for sneaky, nihilistic, anti-spirituality tracts. those kinds of things annoy me just as much as the display of judgmental religious rhetoric. despite the author's personal perspective, i didn't notice that in this series, and i was looking for it. angels warring and a False God Angel to me do not amount to a renunciation of faith. if anything, it illustrates a critical stance towards current organized religion. i can deal with that. it is not all-or-nothing or black & white, it is a grey scale. and as i've mentioned, overall i found the novel to be deeply spiritual - pullman may be a curmudgeonly atheist; the morality of the book itself is not.

- personally, i thought the Chronicles of Narnia (one of my favorite series) was far more overt in its religious teachings than Golden Compass was in its 'question what you have been taught' lessons. Chronicles was a wonderful adventure AND a clear religious allegory. Golden Compass is a wonderful adventure AND a lesson in not blindly following faith - with the ultimate lesson that a person can still find their own personal way to faith & spirituality. i think that is a good lesson for kids. for everyone!
Profile Image for Porter.
68 reviews5 followers
June 17, 2009
When I was in high school, the local video arcade passed out fliers that that evening, after a $2 admission, you could play all the video games for free. I and several of my friends went and enjoyed ourselves.

And then suddenly they closed the doors, turned off all the games, and a preacher got up and proceeded to try to "save" us.

True, we had already gotten our money's worth, and we we could have gotten up and left (even though all of us wanted to but none of us had the nerve). But we still felt deceived and cheated.

This is how I felt reading The Amber Spyglass. I was lured in by the promise (and the deliverance) of an exciting story in an utterly compelling world. But then in the third book, Pullman closed the doors and turned off that great storytelling and I found myself sitting through a tedious sermon waiting for it to be over already.
Profile Image for Corie.
33 reviews45 followers
September 19, 2007
If you haven’t read the ENTIRE three books, please don’t read any further. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you because the ending is so endearing and…..lasting, that I would HATE to take it away from you.

I absolutely fell in love with Lyra. Didn’t you? She was the sister I wish I would have had growing up. She was myself as I played with all of my brothers in the mudfields, she was the daughter I’m sure every woman would yearn to have. In my opinion, Philip Pullman was brilliant in his creation of this little girl. Her flaws were her strength just as much as her strengths were her salvation. And when you take her inquisitive innocence and throw in Will’s brave maturity…..together, the two of them are almost too much to bear. I was heady with adoration for the two of them combined. I’m sure some would say they were too perfect together, too sappy, too trite. But my cynicism runs deep and my heart was still touched. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl or because my heart still remembers the depth of that first love. The absoluteness of it. My heart remembers “Going to China”, (haa haa) and it longs to visit again.

Will was the boy every girl wants to fall in love with. Loyal, strong, clever, honest, sweet and faithful. I hated him for agreeing to close every single window except one, but loved him for his dedication to do what’s “right”. I wanted to shake him and tell him that when he gets older he will realize that one more window wouldn’t have mattered – that what he was at Lyra’s side was worth one silly little window in the fabric of the worlds. But of course, he wouldn’t listen to me, because he is young and doesn’t know how rare True Love is. So I sighed (and cried) and watched them (felt them!) split forever. And I agonized over whether they would ever figure out how to Astral Project into eachother's lives. And if the one would wait for the other when they died, so that they could walk out the window they created hand in hand. I could literally picture them sitting there on that bench for an hour each year, aching for eachother once again. Sigh....

I liked how Mrs. Coulter was deep enough to be both intrinsically evil and love Lyra with a blindly, maternal love in the end. I liked how the Master at Jordon and John Faa were father figures in their own ways. I liked little Roger’s complete faith and how Iorek’s devotion was tempered with a knowledge that was higher than either of the children’s.

I did find Mary Malone unbearably boring and found myself wishing away any chapter having to deal with her and her mulefa. Get back to the real story of Lyra and Will! I could have done without her entire story line.

And of course there was Pantalaimon. How much do we all wish we had a dæmon that we could see, touch, talk to, rely on? How much fun would it be to have a morphing little partner in everything we do? Ahhh, was a fun concept to explore and probably the very secret to HDM’s success. Pullman’s descriptions of the different dæmon’s throughout each book were descriptive, imaginative and comical.

All in all, an excellent book. I wish I would have read it slower so that I could have enjoyed Lyra and Will's company a little longer.

Profile Image for ~Calliope~.
227 reviews348 followers
January 31, 2023
“All the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity.”

“I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are.”

“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…”

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,099 reviews44.1k followers
September 1, 2017
I’ve been putting this book off for almost four years. I’ve been truly terrified to read it for such a long time. The first book, The Golden Compass, is one of the best fantasy novels I have ever read. I adore it. The second book is something else entirely. I was horrified when I read it and truly disgusted with the unexpected direction the series took. I did not want to read this one because I did not want my memories of the first book shattered completely.

So I finally picked it up and I approached it expecting to hate the thing. I expected it to be worse than the second book, but my expectations were unfounded. The biggest problem this trilogy has is the fact that it’s not really a trilogy. It’s essentially one big book, one story. Each book is not self-contained but needs to be read in sequence; they are not structured like individual books: the story keeps flowing to the last page. And this book, whilst nowhere near the same level of mastery the first book possessed, was not entirely bad. It managed to piece everything together quite nicely, but this series had the potential to do so much more.

I was delighted with the first book, for many reasons. One of the main things that impressed me was the strength of its protagonist. She’s a very young girl who is very much human. She is not a messiah figure and was prone to make mistakes but she was also capable of moments of real brilliance. I rooted for her. I wanted to see her grow and conquer those that would seek to use her for their own ends. She had power in her. With the introduction of Will she took a backseat in the story, he became the main hero and overshadowed her completely. She seemed happy to follow his lead and became subservient to his decisions.

This was a big mistake. Whilst Will did actually develop some personality in this book, it was at the tragic cost of Lyra’s. Pullman seemed unable to balance the two personalities together without one unfortunately dominating the other. And the ending they pushed towards was so very (how shall I put this?) closed. It was not the ending this series needed. I feel that Pullman sacrificed the situation he had blooming to fit the writing into the allegory he had been devising since the first book. It became too forced, one the story would have been much stronger if it was allowed to breathe and go where it needed to go.

The redemptive themes towards the end seemed drastically out of place. Two characters that clearly didn’t care much unexpectedly had a change of heart. I found it a little unbelievable. You may wonder why I even bothered to give it three stars. I’m wondering that myself. I think a lot of it has to do with Iorek Byrnison. He was in the last book, and his presence here helped pull the story up in my estimation. But His Dark Materials will always be a series that ruined its own potential.
Profile Image for Jim O'Donnell.
60 reviews8 followers
January 26, 2008

Too much. Way too much.

Pullman's series concludes like it started. Good but nothing great. And tiring. Very. The Amber Spyglass weighs as much as the other two books put together....and then some. Pullman pulls in still MORE main characters and still MORE beings and still MORE complications and still MORE unlikely, unbelievable turns-of-event. It just got to be too much. Between the witches and the angels and the cliff-ghasts, the shadows, the specters, the ghosts, the Gallivespians, the armored bears....you come away feeling tha the author is trying to beat you over the head.

And yet, you cant stop turning the pages. It is well-written, suspensful and you just cant help wanting to know what happens next. Thus the extra star.

The vast assortment of characters and beings would be fine if it hadnt detracted from the well-crafted main characters of the first book. Mrs. Coulter becomes less of a player and less interesting by the page. The same with Asriel and...characters that should have been better fleshed out and worthy of the weight they carried in this war (The President, Father Gomez, Metatron...)were left virtually unknown.

Most maddening was Lyra. She began the series as an admirable, sympathetic, tough little woman-to-be; a wonderful, powerful heroine driven to do what was right. By the end of the series her subservience to the boy Will is complete. The woman must bow before the man. This book is much too full of "Oh Will! What will we do Will?" followed by her sobbing and Will saving the day. I found that very chauvenistic and quite a turn off.

Still, the ideas of the book are interesting - but not earth shattering. What initially drew me to this series was that the Christians are busy crying about how this series and the movie based on the books are going to corrupt our children and kill God and wreck havoc on our peaceable society. Laughable to say the least.

Understanding that this book was geared towards young teens, I still couldnt help but think that any teen who had not had these doubts or questions or wonderment about God should be tossed out in the snow. Many of the "anti-God" things in this book were things my friends and were arguing about over cases of Miller Genuine Draft in Stephanie Montez's basement. There's nothing new here.

So I dont understand the fuss. In fact, there is only one atheist character in the book, Mary Malone and she felt and empetiness and a loss without her connection to God. I found her rejection of the Church odd. She ate marzipan and kissed an Italian. Whoa! I ate roasted chesnuts and kissed a Colombian once but it didnt make me an atheist. Cant we believe in God and enjoy the world at the same time? Pullman seems not to think so. Therefore there is something ironic about the near heavenly place Dr. Malone finds herself stranded (in fact, the mulefas, thier trees and wheels and her relationship with them was the most interesting part of the book).

In any case, Pullman doesnt say that there is no God. In fact, he allows that there may be a creator, a greater force but the war isnt against God. The war is against the supposed Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal dictatorship run by an angel who wields power through the Church. What is atheistic about that? Nothing. What drives the Christians nuts is that the books but the very valid question in the reader's mind...who does The Church 'work' for? If you arent or havent asked yourself that question you too should be chucked out in the snow. Here, the Church clearly works for a corrupt and evil angel and considering little things like the Crusades and the Inquistion...not to mention the insane theocratic drive of our current President and candidate Huckabee...Pullman may have hit it on the head. God may indeed exist (for me It does)but 'His' spokesmen on earth, indeed his most ardent supporters, clearly do not work for US or for HIM.
Profile Image for Lucy.
411 reviews595 followers
May 28, 2019

“I stopped believing there was a power of good and a power of evil that were outside us. And I came to believe that good and evil are names for what people do, not for what they are.”

Will is the knife bearer and the instructions from his father were clear: Find Lord Asriel. But before he can do this he must find Lyra.

Lyra has been taken by Mrs Coulter and is the sleeping prisoner of her and her vicious golden monkey daemon. Despite their great distance, Will and Lyra must reunite for their part in the war that neither of them can fully comprehend.

As their friends are scattered across worlds, Will and Lyra must travel to different parallels, some leading to the darkest of places. Their journey is one of braveness and endurance. During this journey they meet even more interesting people and creatures; ghosts, harpies, angels and many more, that can help or hinder their journey.

This book also had the points of view from Dr Mary Malone and while this was important, I didn't find her perspective as interesting as the others (maybe as they were enduring more of a dangerous adventure).

This was a superb literary adventure and I’m so sad to be at the end of this amazing trilogy.
Profile Image for Eric Allen.
Author 3 books722 followers
February 12, 2015
This review contains crude language, because I'm too pissed off to be eloquent at the moment. Reader beware.

What the fuck did I just read? Seriously! What in the hell was that supposed to be?

Spoilers ect ect ect.

Everything I loved about the first book is completely gone, the author seems to have forgotten that he's telling a story rather than railing against organized religion almost non-stop, the characters seem to have been lobotomized, and it was just long, horribly boring, and extremely anti-climactic. It drags on, and on, and on, and really accomplishes very little, does not deliver on any of the promises made by the first book, and for a book about man killing god there's remarkably little god killing going on here. Come on Pullman, if you're going to have a man start a war with god, GO FOR THE GOLD, MAN. Go for some huge and epic confrontations, gigantic, world-shattering battles, Man screaming defiance in God's face. You know, something... ANYTHING other than a largely undescribed and frankly boring battle scene that takes up a chapter or so and ends with one of the most ridiculous and melodramatic suicides I've ever read of in fiction. Lord Asriel falls far short of his goal, and has to settle for killing God's underling. Mary Malone's side story is just completely pointless and only serves to take up space. A lot of space. While also managing to be completely uninteresting in every way on top of it. And the ending just drags on, and on pointlessly and impotently long after it should have wrapped things up and called it quits, but Pullman, it seems, just had to squeeze in a few more sermons.

At the end it really seems like Pullman wanted to tell a huge and epic tale, but had no idea how to go about doing it, so he substituted rant after rant, and allegory after allegory instead, and these things were nowhere near as entertaining, or well reasoned out as he obviously thinks them to be. What started out as a very fun fantasy story with a great protagonist, truly menacing villains, and a highly inventive and interesting world became a pretentious, thinly strung together collection of lectures on the evils of organized religion held up on cue cards by stick figures that are sort of dressed like the characters in the first book. I'm very disappointed. There is a way to share your beliefs if you want to and still tell a good and entertaining story. Look at Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind for example. You don't have to sacrifice one for the other. Pullman, unfortunately, didn't realize this. This book was long, boring, pointless, and worst of all, highly disappointing. Perhaps it's a good thing that only the first book got made into a movie. I don't even know how the other two books would even be adapted into movies. It's so sad that it had to end this way. The first book was just soooooo good. What a waste. I don't think there was even a single part of this book that I actually enjoyed reading.

I kept waiting for the author to put his dick away and get back to telling the story, but he never did. He just left it hanging out there in the wind as he stands upon his great and shining soapbox of justice... as foretold by prophecy... Yes, there are many arguments that can be made against any religion. And many of them have valid points. "Religion is bad *drops mike*" is not one of them. That's a four year old's argument, Pullman, you can do better than that, and you should be ashamed of yourself for not doing so. The biggest problem with this book is that Pullman didn't actually make, or prove any of his own points. He ranted against the evils of religion without ever actually naming what any of said evils are, saying how they impact the world and its people, and why he thinks they are evil. You know, how a well thought out argument would be put together? Pullman pretty much just says that religion is evil because reasons. If, in the end, your entire argument can be summarized by the two words "because reasons", you've failed to make an argument. Go back and try again. It's like he just likes to rant for the sake of ranting, rather than toward any sort of goal or purpose. I really don't mind if he wants to share his beliefs with me if it's in a well thought out and delivered way, while not forgetting that he's also telling a story. But that's not what this book is. It's not that I disagree with the argument that made me hate this book, it's how incompetently he delivered it that makes me hate it. I'm all for people having their own opinions and sharing them. But, you know, at least TRY to make a good showing of it when you do. Pathetic. Just plain pathetic.

And by the end of it, I don't think even the author knows what Dust is actually supposed to be. He seems to change his mind on that pretty regularly throughout the trilogy, and, well, he just sort of hand waves it away as "meh whatever, it's not like the driving force of the first book is in any way important, you'd much rather hear about how Catholicism is the creation of hell, right?" It's just an arbitrary point of contention that has no meaning, definition, or purpose in the story except to be a vague, unexplained point of contention. And on top of that, any point you want to make in your book should never be so oppressive that it crushes all of the life, personality, enjoyability, and sense right out of the story. It should go hand in hand with the story, and work together with it to make a better whole in the end, rather than being the main focus of the book to the exclusion of every single thing else. And that's just not what happened here. He got a bug up his ass about making his point, and it became so heavy handed and oppressive that it utterly destroyed everything else in the story. Hugely disappointing. I went into this book wanting more of what I saw in the first book, but the author didn't really seem to care to finish that story, because he was too busy going off on rant after rant. I get it dude, you don't believe in god and you think organized religion does more harm than good. Did you have to beat me over the head with it until I see cartoon stars circling me?

Let's put it another way. What did Lyra and Will learn during the course of the book? How are they better people in the end than they were at the beginning? What did they accomplish, and how will it affect anything? I can't answer these questions, because the author was too focused on preaching to me that he forgot to include something so simple, yet completely vital to a story, as basic character development in the book. Here's just one small example of the sheer incompetence in storytelling here. Remember how Mrs. Colter had complete control over all the Specters? That sure was awesome, wasn't it? Yeah, too bad the author didn't remember that. And that is just one of many, many, many abandoned, aborted, or just plain forgotten plotlines that the author ignored so that he could better spend his time preaching. In essence, Pullman is exactly what he despises most. Some asshole so full of himself that he won't stop preaching long enough to take a look at the world around him. Funny, eh?

Oh yeah, and 12 year old true love? Yeah... bullshit.

And to be clear, I am not bothered in the least by anti-religious sentiments. Other people are allowed to believe what they believe, and their doing so has no impact whatsoever upon what I believe. I AM bothered by incompetent idiots who wouldn't know how to put together a real and sound argument if their lives depended on it, and think that they're being very clever whilst completely failing to validate said argument in any way. I'm also bothered by assholes who try to pass off a rant on |<---Insert Topic Here--->| as a story, and writers who don't know the first thing about plot structure or character development. (I'm looking at YOU Rothfuss!!!) --read: the author is an arrogant moron who should go back to high school debate club and learn how to structure and support his arguments, then take a high school English class to learn the first thing about telling a story, before writing any more books kthxbai #wouldloseargumentstoafouryearold--
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,523 reviews1,769 followers
March 1, 2017
Coleridge in his criticism of Paradise Lost somewhere wrote that Milton was really of the Devil's party without realising it.

I don't know about Milton, but I feel that what Coleridge wrote was true of Philip Pullman channelling Milton by means of his appearance to William Blake in poetic vision while in Felpham, all of course transmogrified into a children's book - with armoured bears. Even the Jungian Daemons, anima and animus to every character, have their counterparts in Blake, while the sexual awakening of Lyra and Will prompted by Mary Malone's fond musings about Marzipan is the fruit of Milton's conception of Adam and Eve in Eden.

Three paths are open to me at this stage. The reinterpretation of Milton by means of Blake by Pullman, His Dark Materials as anti-Narnia, and the trilogy as a profoundly religious work written by a non-believer. All of these together place Pullman's work in a dialectic relationship with a dissenting Protestant tradition in English literature, these books are part of an ongoing conversation about culture, about Britain, and also about the family and upbringing.

If on the one hand Pullman was inspired to reinterpret Milton and Blake then he was also writing in response to C.S. Lewis by writing an anti-Narnia. The world of Narnia is a closed and tightly knit one. We are always in a family circle, family is always sufficient and saves a child from outside influences (so long as you are not a pubescent girl and have no thought of entering into adult sexuality) which are always wicked. Authority is good and directly experienced, although not comprehensible (because Jesus isn't a tame lion for goodness sake). And curiously the most we know about any of the parents in any of the Narnia books is the sickly mother from The Magician's Nephew.

Pullman takes an opposite approach. The family is nothing, its influence is weak. The child is open to the world, the world is a place of adventure, foreigners are friends rather than weird people with the wrong skin colour who are incapable of achieving salvation. Authority is fractured, remote, and corrupt. Parents are terrible role models. Witches have joy in the experience of creation, and armoured bears are proper bears who eat people rather than giant honey pawed embarrassing emanations of an Oxford Don's imagination. This is the battlefield for the dream of Oxford and what part it will play in a child's imagination. A battle fought in a culture war between Anglicanism and Dissent. If Anglicanism remains dominant - and I suspect that idea of an Establishment encompassing religious, civil, cultural, and political elites can be read across by readers into their own countries - Dissent still dissents.

The down side of this incredible openness and excitement about the universe and all its many varieties of Oxford is that that the series can be diffuse, some characters are much weaker than others despite having important roles to play in the story and more seriously it is hard to take the Authority and The Church seriously as antagonists when we see the heartless cruelty of chief rebel and Miltonic Satan Lord Asriel ultimately aided and abetted by the no less hideous and beautiful Mrs Coulter. While Lyra and Will for me did not emerge as synthesis, or resolution, or an alternative to either, but somehow always remained associated with the child sacrificing Lord Asriel. And what are we to make of a Republic of Heaven established by a Lord! Can the idea of the establishment of a Republic of Heaven move us as readers when the Authority lacks authority in the author's own text, the sprawl out runs the story, in effect we are with Satan at the beginning of book three of Paradise Lost surging through the unformed void where element fights against element in never ending anarchy.

But perhaps this is part of Pullman's point. The universes are such incredible places and our lives so exuberant and full of adventure that we can never follow all the possible stories fully. Scheherazade, does Pullman say, did not even come close, her constant digression into other stories which interrupt each other and fall over each others toes to such an extent that there is time for a child to grow to from egg and seed to fullness in her womb before she was half way done with them gives us but a fraction of the idea of potential plot-lines a story could follow. A storyteller must then be a vicious creature, like Blake's Urizen, dividing up the seamless cloth of creation into ugly pockets and then calling himself god.

Yet none of this is irreligious. Maybe for some it is an unfamiliar take, but then there is more, even to Christianity, than C.S. Lewis. Pullman's universes are steeped in religion. This is a creation, but just as in Blake's vision the original creator had been displaced by Urizen so too here power has been seized by a Demiurge. The argument is not over the place of religion in the universes but over who controls religion, is faith a matter of personal revelation or of a top down authority, a republic of spiritual equals or an absolute monarchy. A creation in which it is revealed that Dark Matter are Angels cannot be thought of as irreligious or Atheistic without exploding those concepts. What is Lyra and Will's journey to the afterlife than the Harrowing of Hell?

The ending came across as apt to me. The initial breach between worlds was an act of huge violence, Will's subsequent movement using The Subtle Knife again is violent, although since he only cuts rather than blows open with a explosion not quite as bad, however still this is no gentle business, it is plainly damaging and destructive. An ending in which these holes in the fabric of existence were not knitted together would have to be unremittingly bleak. The resulting human sorrow is part of Pullman's expansive vision. Here love is inevitable, so long as one can remember the marzipan, it is not something to be feared and rejected, it gifts us the pain of parting the Newtonian opposite to joys of intimacy.

For me this vast mixture of elements was hugely exciting. Dark matter and William Blake, Milton and Armoured bears, a joyful expansive approach of life in which actions have cruel consequences which our child protagonists will repent of. Way back in the first book we are told that irrespective of what other characters think or would prefer, they are engaged in a war and will have to fight, the only question is for which side. This may be true in our non-fictional lives, with the important difference that one does not need to turn coat to turn covers and sample what both sides have to offer, and even a child person is a complex thing that needs more than just one type of book to grow well.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
308 reviews172 followers
July 10, 2008
This book was an experiment, and while there were moments that were clever and compelling and emotionally resonant, as a whole, the experiment failed. That experiment was to take a piece of complex, religious poetry intended for adults (Paradise Lost), turn it on its head, and make it into an anti-religion/coming-of-age allegory for children. Even though Pullman ultimately failed to create a believable, subtle, or controlled narrative universe, even The Amber Spyglass did have its good moments.

Pullman's writing is still as vivid and engaging as it was in the first two books, and he has a good sense of how to write exciting and suspenseful action scenes. He has a knack for describing landscapes richly (he tends to describe landscapes and nature a bit more than I care for, but that's just my personal preference as a reader), and he has a passion and respect for curiosity that I find admirable. The overall message of the series, as bluntly and childishly as it was delivered, is still a worthwhile and important message to build a book around: to approach the world with vigor and curiosity, to keep an open mind, to do no harm, and to seek the truth no matter how frightening it may be to do so. His vision and goals as an author are praiseworthy, and his skill with language is something that other children's authors can emulate.

However, Pullman fails one very important test of novel-writing: his characters are flat. Try as I might, I simply did not care about most of the characters in the story. Lyra was basically a broken record that said things like "I been thinkin'...let's save them!'" and "Let's do the right thing!" and "Oh, I got to do this, I got to!" and "I ain't the smartest, but by golly am I brave!" She sounded like a character from Winnie-the-Pooh. "Let's go lay down by the brambly bush and have some refreshment while we talk about what an ever so exciting and gay time we've had today, making new friends and learning a moral lesson here and there about doing The Right Thing!" That's not even taking into account the fact that she was a pig-headed brat throughout ¾ of the entire series. It wasn't until a flood of estrogen poured into her system when she spontaneously hit puberty that she finally stopped stamping her foot and listening seriously to the advice and wisdom that adults had to offer.

Sure, she and Will were brave and strong and self-sacrificing. But neither of them really developed into anything beyond Pullman's simplistic notion of golden-hearted goodness. Despite all the fuss Pullman made about Lyra being "tempted," she was never really tempted at all. She never had to face a real moral choice about right and wrong: she always knew, with absolute certainty, what was right and what was wrong. Her personality was cloying and saccharine when she wasn't being abrasive and stubborn, and I couldn't stand her. Will was a bit better, but even he failed to live up to my expectations of character development. And if those two – the main characters – weren't adequately developed, who else in the series could be? One of the only characters who came anywhere near being interesting and unpredictable was Mrs. Coulter, who was basically a Snape figure, but less plausible and not as much fun to read about. Dr. Malone also had her moments as a developed character, but unfortunately she only made up a small part of the series as a whole.

Mrs. Coulter was interesting, but ultimately, no one was able to give a satisfactory reason to explain her change of heart. Maybe she still had the hots for Asriel, maybe her maternal instinct kicked in 12 years too late, maybe she genuinely thought Lyra was a good kid...or maybe Pullman just needed to create a series where the main character's mother loved her and was willing to stretch the reader's suspension of disbelief as much as he needed to in order to get there. Mrs. Coulter claimed to love Lyra, but she never had a real, honest conversation with her, never respected her rights, never apologized to her (and apologies are oh so very important in this series, because it's The Right Thing To Do), never had any real reason to change her mind about Lyra other than the fact that Lyra turned out to be "special." Throughout the whole book, the reader is wondering whether Mrs. Coulter is a double agent, or a triple agent, or just a plain wacked-out, twisted evil woman who works for herself and no one else. And in the end, even though she nobly sacrifices herself to bring about something or other good, I never really felt convinced of her goodness because there was no solid rationale for it. It just felt like Pullman pulling the puppet-strings and saying, "You're a good mother now!" Asriel, on the other hand, is never redeemed, as far as I'm concerned, not even through author-intervention. He's still as ruthless, pitiless, cold, and calculating as he was from the very beginning – so how are we supposed to root for Asriel's side when both he and Mrs. Coulter are no better than the enemy they're fighting?

Pullman was also bad at giving satisfying justifications for his other characters' motives. In this book, Lyra suddenly comes up with the idea that she wants to visit the Land of the Dead. Why didn't she think of this in the second book? Why haven't we heard more about her guilt if it really has been eating her up all this time? Why is an apology worth more than four people's lives? Why is there a Land of the Dead at all, since we've heard nothing about it until now and it doesn't really fit with the whole, you know, atheism thing? The more perilous and ridiculous the journey to the Land of the Dead seems, and the more people warn Lyra about the dangers of going there, the more stubborn she becomes. Will has an equally pathetic reason for wanting to visit his father. To do what? How can you possibly establish a connection with the ghost of a person you didn't know well even when they were alive? The entire enterprise of going to the Land of the Dead seemed to be Pullman's way of engineering an "end to death," because it fits with the whole disobeying-God theme in Paradise Lost. When I realized that Pullman was going to stick with the allegory even if it didn't make sense within the world he had created, I couldn't help but lose a lot of respect for the book.

Why was it forbidden for Will to think of his mother, which would distract him from his mission, but it was ok for Lyra to obssess about Roger and drag herself and others into peril just to assuage her own guilt? There never was a good reason given for why Will had to forget all about his mother in order to keep the knife intact, but Lyra's obsession with Roger was allowed to be a major driving force in the narrative. Is Roger more important than Will's mother? Certainly not from my perspective. Roger is even more flat than Will and Lyra as far as characters go. He wasn't even interesting when he was alive – why should I care about him now that he's dead? Because Roger was dead (which itself served no other purpose than to make Asriel look like a jerk), and because Pullman needed to force the characters to go to the Land of the Dead, he played up Lyra's part in Roger's death and tried to convince the reader that Roger was actually quite important, and ever so helpful and good and true. I got extremely tired of the whole "Huzzah, let's rescue him!" mentality of the characters. It's the same old epic, unrealistically high stakes, the same old Characters of Destiny who must fulfill a prophecy of some kind in order to save the world.

Which brings me to my annoyance with the end of the book. Pullman pulled out all the stops on this one. Will and Lyra are experiencing "true love," no matter that they're only twelve years old and have known each other for a few months! Did I mention that they're twelve years old? I balked at the dramatic and maudlin ending because I could not get over the fact that these were pre-teens in the most exaggerated throes of hormone-driven passion and Pullman wanted us to take this seriously, wanted us to believe this was "true love." Maybe my cynicism about the ending is just a symptom of the fact that I'm older than the target audience for this book. Still, there is clearly a subtext to the series that Pullman put in there for the benefit of adults. Why would he insult his adult readers by holding up this extremely young, inexperienced, twelve-year-old couple as the paragon of romantic love?

From a logistical point of view, it doesn't even seem plausible that Will and Lyra had to be separated at all. Pullman wanted a tragic, "coming-of-age" ending, so he invented plot hooks to get there. The fact is, if there's enough wonder and curiosity and open-mindedness and kindness in the world to keep one window open, then surely there's enough to keep two open. I'm not convinced that things would be just fine with a giant window open for the rest of time to let hordes of the dead escape, but the universe would erupt into nothingness if a small, person-sized hole was left open for the next 60 years or so, just until Will and Lyra died and no longer needed it. Pullman dangled out the possibility of a happy ending, but then, for a completely arbitrary and author-generated reason, he shut down that possibility so that Will and Lyra could "grow up" or "lose their innocence" or some other platitude. I understand that being separated from each other was Pullman's way of representing their exile from Paradise, but again, this is another case where he's letting the allegory dictate how the story will turn out rather than directing and crafting his own story according to what makes the most sense.

Oh, and for the record: nobody kills God in this book. Rather than railing against this book for the supposed death of God, why don't people instead rail against this book for being bad?

Profile Image for Emily B.
419 reviews412 followers
July 26, 2021
I just wasn’t a huge fan of this series in general but really wanted to complete the trilogy and give it a fair chance.

For me too much was happening in this book, one wild thing after another. It also seemed kind of fragmented.
The ending wasn’t very satisfying, with lots of the ‘answers’ or ‘missing pieces’ being filled in by more minor character who figured it out with any explanation, they just turn up with the knowledge we have been looking for in three books.

I’m giving it three stars because I can see why someone else might have enjoyed it. It’s clever and interesting.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,385 reviews810 followers
December 16, 2017
I’ve finally finished my reread of His Dark Materials before starting The Book of Dust. It is literally decades since I read it and all I could remember was that I loved it, and the mulefa. But of course there was so much more to it than that. And I cried my eyes out at the end.
It also made me feel like I’d love to chat to Philip Pullman about his metaphysical beliefs and the meaning of life. Wonderful writing. Wonderful story.
Profile Image for Tony Z .
102 reviews
June 24, 2016

¿Conocen esa mezcla de felicidad y tristeza, ese dulceamargo, que solo los buenos libros pueden dejar? Que aunque pase el tiempo, los sigues recordando, y quisieras que la historia continuara, aunque sabes que se desarrollo justo como debía ser, así me hace sentir "La Materia Oscura"

EL comienzo del final, la tan esperada guerra neoapocalíptica ha llegado, con sus terribles bandos, comandados por Lord Asriel y Metatron...
la historia de la vida humana ha consistido en una lucha entre la sabiduría y la estupidez.

Y mientras la guerra se desarrolla, todos están buscando a Lyra y a Will quienes son los agentes de cambio de este multiverso

Pullman mejora mucho su prosa, nos regresa la personalidad heroica de Lyra y la complementa perfectamente con la de Will, aborda temas inusuales en el género como seres fantásticos homosexuales, y confirma a la Señora Coulter como uno de los mejores personajes femeninos de los que he podido leer, – aun no me decido si la amo o la odio, solo sé que quiero hacer cosas malas con ella.

El gran final, no es para nada como lo había imaginado, pero es un final magnifico, me ha encantado esta saga “infantil” con toda su mezcla de épica, fantasía, ciencia ficción, romance, filosofía, steampunk y su worldbuilding que no hace más que ampliarse tras cada tomo, esta vez con los Mulefa, los Gallivespianos y todo el mundo de los muertos, además de los ya favoritos, Daimonios, brujas, osos polares, chamanes, ángeles, giptanos, el aletiometro, la daga sutil, el artefacto intencional, el catalejo lacado y todo lo demás que de seguro estoy olvidando

Por eso, no solo recomiendo este libro, recomiendo toda la trilogía a todos, Yo siempre la amare.

Para mas de mis reseñas sobre los libros de La Materia Oscura pueden ver los siguientes enlaces:
Luces del norte aquí
La Daga aquí
El Oxford de Lyra aquí

Profile Image for Pige.
86 reviews3 followers
October 20, 2007
I actually finished this book a couple weeks ago. But life outside of goodreads, my general frustrations with the book, and the sense that reading it and thinking about it was contributing to an extended bought of grumpiness kept me from putting any thought or effort towards commenting on it here.
I suppose I should get it over with now. I have to say that reading this book was at times overwhelmingly painful and my main motivation for actually finishing it was to be able to know for myself that there was no redemptive ending (at least in my eyes) to be found. Regardless of how someone may have responded to the anti-religious overtones, the shortfalls in how the characters developed, the simple resolution of problematic relationships between the characters, the disjointed storyline, the questionable timelines when trying to synchronize the disjointed stories, the shortcuts in solving problems, and my general lack of sympathy for any character exhausted me.
But now after time has passed, what I shake my head at most is knowing that although this was apparently set up to be a classic quest type fantasy story the quest was only partially fulfilled (the proposed evil was only weakened not eliminated) and the main characters on this quest a) didn’t know they were on it and b) didn’t really grow through their participation in it. When a problem occurred there consistently appeared some angel or witch or bear or the compass or some other wise being to simply fill them in on what to do or what happened or will happen over the course of a couple paragraphs or pages. They didn’t really have to do much problem solving on their own-yeah they ‘experienced’ much but even then their motivations were generally self serving.
Ahh, I could go on but it’s really not worth my time anymore …I’m just glad it’s over.

Profile Image for Joe.
96 reviews10 followers
July 16, 2009
This book was twisted. The plot was very contrived and the characters have lost the remaining appeal that they had in the first 2 books. The "redemption" of Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel is utterly unconvincing. Pullman makes an open mockery of God, whom he depicts as a weak, timid, helpless old being manipulated by a twisted, tryanicial angel. No, Lyra and Wil don't kill God in the end, but Pullman does. The story culminates in the predictable recreation of Adam and Eve's experience in the garden, with the conclusion that Satan had it right all along.
The problem with Pullman's "Republic of Heaven" ideal is that he puts too much faith in humanity. History has proven time and again that men are incapable of building and sustaining a truly benevolent society. We need God in order to build heaven. (The true God, not a warped idea of Him as seen in many religions today). The only thing worse than religious oppression is Godless oppression.
Pullman is right that men have corrupted the truth, and this is manifest in many false teachings in religions today, but he is wrong in concluding that this is God's fault, or that the very idea of God is false, and that God himself is a corrupt invention of man. There is a God, He is good, and there is a true way of worshipping him that affirms humanity.
Pullman is also right that human passions have wrongfully been suppressed by many religions. But he is wrong in suggesting that there should be no higher authority to set bounds on human passions. Our passions are God-given, and God desires that we enjoy them. He teaches us, not to deny ourselves of these passions, but to deny ourselves of selfish and harmful (to ourselves or to others) expressions of these passions. There is an appropriate bounds. True religion strikes the right balance between the full expression of human passion and approprate self restraint.
Finally, Pullman is also right about one thing in the Garden of Eden: it was a good thing, ultimately, that Adam and Eve partook of that fruit. It is in fact what God intended to happen. There was nothing inherently evil in the fruit itself. The sin was in doing so at Satan's urging.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,382 followers
July 26, 2020
This is the third instalment in the His Dark Materials series.

Lyra has been captured, the worlds are tearing apart, and a new species has been discovered. This might the final book in a series but that sure doesn't mean Pullman is winding down his adventures any time soon!

It's hard for me to admit that I didn't fully love this. I used to adore this series as a young teen and have so many good memories of reading it, but this reread hasn't been as fulfilling. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for this entire series and really loved the latter half of this book, but the former portion felt like a bit of a slog. It was always a surprise to me, as I remember little from my childhood reads, to find so many new elements included in the series conclusion! I also found the religions undertones more and more prominent and while it made for fascinating philosophical discussions it also wasn't always what I wanted to read about.

The book closed at it opened, with Lyra at Oxford, which felt like a satisfying conclusion for me. Lyra was always the individual I read this series for and was always the protagonist I was keen to return to. The final pages left me eager to see how she will grow from her adventures and what new ones she will experience in the follow-on series.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,002 reviews351 followers
July 27, 2021
A República do Céu

As aventuras de Lyra e Will continuam a surpreender-nos por entre um rol de querelas mistícas entre bem e mal...

Lyra cresce, amadurece, descobre o amor, e... apercebe-se da urgência em criar um mundo novo e melhor!
Subscrevo 😉

“Temos de ser todas aquelas coisas difíceis, como alegres e simpáticos, corajosos, destemidos e pacien­tes, e temos de estudar e pensar e trabalhar muito, todos nós, nos nossos diferentes mundos e então construiremos...”

“— E depois?”
“— Construiremos o quê?”

“...a república do céu!”😁🌟🌟🌟🌟👍
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