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The Secret Commonwealth

(The Book of Dust #2)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  6,987 ratings  ·  988 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.
Kindle Edition, 641 pages
Published October 3rd 2019 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  6,987 ratings  ·  988 reviews

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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
His Dark Materials shattered my heart as a kid...

I've been dreaming of a book about adult Lyra ever since!!
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 ¬¬
☙ percy ❧
Nov 13, 2017 marked it as tbr-sequels  ·  review of another edition
"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 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.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. A
Eleanor Slater
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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... H
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
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 weary of reading this book. Albeit hopeful still. And now, after spending a hulking 11 days on read
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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 that first trilogy haunt he ...more
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 where 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 kind of devast ...more
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 okay because she's twenty????? And
Jan 18, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: upcoming
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.
adventuresinabookshop Jo DM
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.

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 hyperra
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This second book is much better and more enjoyable than La Belle Sauvage (I personally didn’t get along with that book, and this one actually made me feel even more frustrated with the first!) and I’m super pleased to have returned to the same sense and feeling as the original HDM trilogy - albeit one through the lens of an adult’s perspective which casts the world in a rather chilling and sad way.

It’s a book that makes you want to keep reading and while in substance it delivered wha
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
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 go
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 me to a poin
Oct 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019, fantasy
Reintroducing a much-loved childhood character post their glory days is a daunting task which requires a delicate hand. With past achievements looming in the backdrop and formative in-between years available only in limited glimpses as the author sees fits, this kind of endeavour can risk dividing an original audience. I can't recall any other series which has attempted such a feat asides from Harry Potter, and everyone knows how that turned out. In The Secret Commonwealth, Philip Pullman restor ...more
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The tension and stakes ratchet up a notch in this story. I don’t want to spoil the story so I will say this: it was just as good as The Book of Dust but had a lot of ground to cover as our knowledge of Lyra’s world expands. With this in mind, while the context was absorbing, fascinating even, it does not entertain *quite* as much. The way Pullman has continued the story has in some ways surprised me, particularly in the character development of Lyra.
Alyson Kent
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Impeccable prose. Incredible story.... Prepare yourself for an adventure like no other. Expect the unexpected to happen...
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

His Dark Materials was a major part of my childhood so it was such a delight to be reunited with a grown up Lyra when I'm grown up myself.
I thought The Secret Commonwealth was better than Volume 1 of the Book of Dust trilogy. I can see that Sir Philip Pullman must have been planning this story for years because it was peppered with so many hints and links to his world. I actually squeaked in joy and surprise every time something was revealed. This book was full of action and intrigue and has been so imagin
Sep 20, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Arkham Reviews
Trigger warning: Violence against women. Rape.

This is a really hard review for me to write because I was looking forward to this book so much. I loved His Dark Materials as a teen and, although I was disappointed by La Belle Sauvage, I was excited to find out what Lyra was like as an adult. However, the result wasn't entirely satisfying.

While it was nice to revisit Lyra's Oxford once again, my biggest problem with The Secret Commonwealth was its length. This novel pushes
Lauren James
I've been waiting for this for a decade. I have no words. There's no one like Philip Pullman.
Jodie Cotgreave
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this and it is TREMENDOUS. A welcome return to our favourite characters but not quite as we remember them. The weight of adulthood has altered friendships, changed opinions and fractured beliefs. Its heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time and I was brought close to tears on a number of occasions. A superb achievement and probably one of the best books I've read this year. I honestly can't wait for everyone to read it and am gutted that I h ...more
Mar 01, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I don't think I've ever been more excited for a book in my entire life. 19 years since that Oxford Botanical Gardens scene. Good grief.
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
Holly Dunn
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second reading – just as good. I’m going to have to stop myself from going back and reading it again. I just want to live in this world 😭
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In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards ...more

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)
“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.” 12 likes
“What is the world of the spirits? It is nothing I know about. I don't know what spirit is."
"Spirit is what matter does.”
More quotes…