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The Secret Commonwealth

(The Book of Dust #2)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  47,982 ratings  ·  4,953 reviews
It is twenty years since the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded and saw the baby Lyra Belacqua begin her life-changing journey.

It is seven years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford's Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materials sequence.

Now, in The S
Hardcover, 688 pages
Published October 3rd 2019 by Penguin and David Fickling Books
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Barry I am also captivated by the mythology and want to know what will happen- but I am finding this a volume a tedious read compared to its predecessors.
Cassandra October the 3rd 2019 has been the date on Goodreads for some time now, so should be around then!

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  47,982 ratings  ·  4,953 reviews

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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
I can't believe I'm giving this book 2 stars...

His Dark Materials shattered my heart as a kid... I've been dreaming of a book about adult Lyra ever since but this was one of the biggest disappointment of 2020 already.

It took me 3 months to finish this book. A book I had been dreaming about for years...

(view spoiler)
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Northern Lights is quite possibly my favourite book of all time, and I actually really liked La Belle Sauvage despite the mixed reviews it got, so I was pretty confident that I'd love The Secret Commonwealth. Grown-up Lyra?? I pre-ordered it and started reading it the minute it landed in my Kindle. And... I really didn't like it.

Judging from the reviews on here, I'm in the minority, and I'm not mad about that. I love the world of His Dark Materials and I will always admire Pullman as one of my a
Lisa of Troy
Here is my video review:

His Dark Materials and La Belle Sauvage have been such an immense delight. They have brought lightness into dark times. It was with much delight that I opened this book.

Lyra, Pan, Malcom, and Alice are all back in this book. However, the book is extremely dark and has lost its magical touch. The book spends the first 200-300 pages in some philosophical debates, and I was expecting it to pick up the pace from there, but it didn't. This book wa
Apr 09, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Why the hell are people rating this book one star when it's not even out yet and there's no way they could possibly have read it?? It makes me so mad ¬¬ ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Secret Commonwealth continues Lyra's story, many years after the conclusion of His Dark Materials, with a young woman adrift from her deamon and starting to understand who she really is in the world. It's a story about acceptance, challenging the rules left by the old, and self discovery.

As always, Pullman's writing is a joy to read. He can draw me back into this world effortlessly, as if I've never been away from Lyra and Pantalaimon. But she's not the girl I'm used to seeing. At the start
Oct 03, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Normally I don't prioritize books by white cis male authors, but I'm still interested in the adventures of Lyra--now a twenty year old college student--so figured I'd make an exception. And then I got to page 187 and said "oh, no. Oh, gross" OUT LOUD. This is what I get for trusting male authors: a character who is "in love" with a girl he's known since she was a baby, who was attracted to her when she was a young teen WHO HE WAS TEACHING, but now it's oka
nemo the emo ☠️ (pagesandprozac)
"lyra silvertongue as a twenty year old"

"lyra silvertongue as a twenty year old"

"lyra silvertongue as a twenty year old"

"LYRA SILVERTONGUE AS A TWENTY YEAR OLD"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

am actually losin me shit, one of the reasons why la belle sauvage wasn't as good as hdm was because lyra wasn't in it (well i mean she was, but she was 8 months old) but this.... BUT THIS
Oct 13, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As a huge fan of Philip Pullman, I take no pleasure in reporting that The Secret Commonwealth is a massive disappointment. This novel, which begins every bit the worthy successor to Pullman’s marvelous His Dark Materials trilogy, slowly and tragically dissolves into a narrative so desultory and dull that it may as well not exist. Or it’s brilliant in a way I can’t comprehend––but I don’t think so.

Rarely do I feel the need to take vengeance on a novel when reviewing it, but this one brought m
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh, the disappointment….

While I appreciate good representation and diversity in the stories that I read, I acknowledge that even in 2019 not all books can be up to my own standards. So if a book is well written, has a solidly planned story, has good pacing and keeps me interested, I will consider it a good book even if it doesn’t contain any good female characters or POC or LGBT+ representation (I definitely won’t like it as much as a good book with good representation, but you know).

Bottom lin
Alex Sarll
What a fascinating mess that was. The opening feels a lot like a Golden Compass* replay, with Lyra back in Oxford, and a student now herself. Except instead of missing children, the mystery we're meant to be exercised about this time is...something to do with roses in the Middle East? Which you might think would feel remote and abstract but oh boy, you'd be amazed how many people Lyra knows suddenly have an intense personal interest in the subject and a reason to talk to her about it. In the mea ...more
May 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
A story that misses the magic of its daemon. Overly long and disappointing in payoff, with too obvious references to the current world to be enchanting
You used to be optimistic. You used to think whatever we did would turn out well.
I used to be young was all she could find to say.

The pacing
All these things that are changing... like ice breaking under your feet.
Lyra depressed could have also been the title of this hefty addition to the His Dark Materials universe of Philip Pullman. Initially I f
Allison Denny
Oct 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristen Peppercorn
11/17/19 - FINALLLLLY! I finished this chunker! Time to tell you my thoughts.

Alright, so it's no secret that the book that I am most bitter about not enjoying in this world is La Belle Sauvage. It's my most liked and commented on review on this site out of the hundreds upon hundreds that I have read and loved, liked or loathed down through the years.

That being said, I was intensely wary of reading this book. Albeit hopeful still. And now, after spending a hulking 11 days on reading this tome, I
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
687 pages and Mr. Pullman still left me hanging at the top of the highest cliff ever. How long to wait now until we find out what happens to Lyra, Pan and Malcolm? This is a fascinating way to write a series. Book one was set when Lyra was a baby and this book, part 2, is set after the events in His Dark Materials. A series within a series. Very interesting.

The Secret Commonwealth is full of action, lots of deaths, and an almost rape. Pullman is not writing for children in this series. However
Joseph Casey
Oct 26, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In a similar but much much better world this awful novel was never written.

My wife and I both loved His Dark Materials and consider it one of our absolute favourite stories ever. Our daughter is named Lyra after the protagonist of that series (and this new novel). We both thoroughly enjoyed La Belle Sauvage too and were greatly looking forward to this one. We bought it in hardback and on kindle. The paper copy just a keepsake of what would surely be an amazing book.

To say I am disappointed in th
mark monday
the book is a fascinating experience full of mystery, emotion, memorable scenes, and real world relevance. the book is a disappointing experience that has somehow lost the magic of its predecessor, let alone the original trilogy. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

while remaining true to his basic belief system that organized religion - Christianity, in prior books - is at the root of much of the evils of the world, in Secret Commonwealth the author widens his net to catch the fanatical side of Islam as well. I appreciat
Eleanor Slater
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I count myself very lucky to have been able to read an advance copy of this book - thank you Penguin Random House for making that happen!

Think back to when you were little and a new book in a series you loved (most people insert Harry Potter here) was due out, think of the excitement, the anticipation, the thrill of holding that volume in your hands. That is how I felt holding this book. And that feeling was rewarded tenfold.

Pullman had worried me a little with La Belle Sauvage... He didn't see
Simon Clark
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely the most mature of Pullman's works involving daemons - the two trilogies of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust - The Secret Commonwealth remarkably responds to the main criticisms of the previous book in the series in a way that is entirely consistent with the story. The book carries on the story of La Belle Sauvage but with the interlude of Lyra's adventures in His Dark Materials, and we now find her as an undergraduate at Oxford while Malcolm is an academic and - dashingly - a ...more
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-shelf, fantasy
Something strange just happened.

After having just read La Belle Sauvage and also having just read the original His Dark Materials trilogy (for the second time, but again, recently), I have come to the conclusion that this might be my favorite of all five books.

Weird, right?

I mean, I liked the original trilogy well enough but I never went gaga over it. Maybe it was about the problem of agency. Or perhaps it was a few other issues. But I never disliked all the wonderful pan-religiosity, the many
Pullman has created something so special with Lyra’s world and the mythos of other worlds he set up in the original His Dark Materials trilogy. La Belle Sauvage, the first installment of this spin-off trilogy, took us back to Lyra’s beginning, giving up the wild story of her infancy and the two children who rescued her. This second installment fast forwards to years after the events of the original trilogy, when Lyra is grown, having just tipped over the cusp of adulthood. The final events of th ...more
Sep 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a long, and in many ways, a very strange book. For context, I am a HUGE fan of the original trilogy and grew up reading and rereading the books. Will and Lyra are two of my all time favorite book characters so I am definitely biased toward this story.

There were quite a few bits of this that I enjoyed and quite a few bits that I didn't. A lot of characters were introduced in this installment but not a lot actually happened.
I LOVED being reunited with Lyra and I thought the concept of he
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To review this book is an arduous task. I definitely had a few moments when I was just about to set it down and tell myself, no, no, I can’t. I did muddle through and was greatly rewarded. This second instalment of the Book of Dust series, a kind-of-but-not-really sequel to His Dark Materials, is a better book than the first in terms of plot and character development – because there is actual character development. Lyra, whom we leave at 13 in HDM, now returns as a young woman embroiled in the k ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it
It's not been a good year for the roses. It's bad enough that the perfume industry is on its knees, but when the steward of Jordan College has to make do with cheap rosewater for the fingerbowls you know the world's in trouble.

The Book of Dust must be one of the most eagerly-awaited literary projects ever. It's been promised for sixteen years now, and those who hunted between the lines of that curious 2004 artefact, Lyra's Oxford, could have a reasonable guess at where it might be going, so hope
Sarah Holton
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Boyle
Hmmm... As a big fan of His Dark Materials, The Secret Commonwealth was one of my most anticipated books of the year. So three stars might seem a little negative, but I will explain.

First, a quick summary. These events take place twenty years after La Belle Sauvage. Lyra is now a young woman studying at Oxford, but we soon realise that she is deeply unhappy. She and her daemon Pantalaimon cannot stop arguing and it's tearing both of them apart. Lyra has become fascinated by two books espousing h
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was excited about La Bella Sauvage AND its sequel, which I imagined would follow Malcum's adventures.
But a book with (relatively) grown-up Lyra, set AFTER the original trilogy?
It's not the stuff dreams are made of, but the stuff I never even dared dream of.

Update after my dreams came true:

So, I can confirm that this book, is in fact real. I have held it in my hand. I have read it with my own eyes (In fact, it's the first book in 15 years that I've read with my very own eyes, and that was a c
Nils Jepson
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm exhausted!! Probably compared to some of y'all I'm slow going but this book was a long, arborous, not always entertaining journey!! And I think that might've been the point!!

I worked my fucking way through The Secret Commonwealth. I know why Philip Pullman did what he did I think but god damn it got to be kind of hard sometimes. This really was not a kids book. I don't even know if it was a YA book! I saw a review or something before talking about how this book was being marketed to adults a
Kitty G Books
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this one on audiobook just now, and I think the narrator of this story did a brilliant job bringing everything to life. I love the HDM series from when I was a child, and still love it as an adult when I re-read it about a year or so ago. The first book in this series left me a cooler than the HDM series, but I still enjoyed the adventure even though in that one Lyra is just a baby. In this story we have skipped forward by 20 years so we're now beyond the ending of HDM and I loved get ...more
adventuresinabookshop Jo R
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance copy of The Secret Commonwealth from Penguin Random House - as a massive fan of Philip Pullman this was one of the greatest moments of my bookselling career so far.

When you love a series of books so much it can be a little daunting to read a new prequel or sequel in case it doesn’t live up to your expectations and ends up tainting the rest of the series for you. So although I couldn’t wait to read it, I was also a little apprehensive. I needn’t have worried.

We rejoin Lyra
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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

Other books in the series

The Book of Dust (3 books)
  • La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)
  • Untitled (The Book of Dust, #3)

Articles featuring this book

There's nothing like the pain of finishing a book with a cliffhanger…and needing to wait months (if not years) for the next book. Save...
22 likes · 12 comments
“The other side’s got an energy that our side en’t got. Comes from their certainty about being right. If you got that certainty, you’ll be willing to do anything to bring about the end you want. It’s the oldest human problem, Lyra, an’ it’s the difference between good and evil. Evil can be unscrupulous, and good can’t. Evil has nothing to stop it doing what it wants, while good has one hand tied behind its back. To do the things it needs to do to win, it’d have to become evil to do ’em.” 39 likes
“You're in a world full of color and you want to see it in black and white.” 25 likes
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