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The Secret Commonwealth

(The Book of Dust #2)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  15,637 ratings  ·  1,942 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
Kindle Edition, 641 pages
Published October 3rd 2019 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Alasandra Alawine I would actually wait until the third book comes out. The ending is a cliffhanger and it's very irritating having to wait for the next book.…moreI would actually wait until the third book comes out. The ending is a cliffhanger and it's very irritating having to wait for the next book. (less)
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 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,637 ratings  ·  1,942 reviews

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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.
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 ...more
☙ 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 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 one of my
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. 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
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
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 reading this tome, I
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 ...more
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... He didn't
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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).

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 ...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 going, so
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 ...more
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.
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
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.

We rejoin Lyra
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.
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
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
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 what I had
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 ...more
Upon further consideration, I'm lowering this rating from two stars to one, because Pullman's interesting philosophical ideas are far out shadowed by the sexism, racism, creepiness, and totally unnecessary sexual violence in this book. This is NOT feminist or enlightened. Also upon consideration, though I've said I'll come back and amend this if it turns out I'm wrong about what looks very much like setting up cultural appropriation and use of the white saviour trope in the final book, even if I ...more
Sarah Holton
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019

This started out FANTASTIC but was ultimately way too long for how little actually happened. We have way too many characters, too many POVs and it suffered from the middle-grade trope of having our MC meet a dozen new people and telling all their back stories and helping all of them. Also there were too many things repeated over and over and over and loooooong passages of traveling or thinking with nothing actually happening or coming out of it. I loved being in the world again
Kerry Adele
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 ...more
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 700 pages in length and
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.
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 appreciated
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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.” 18 likes
“You're in a world full of color and you want to see it in black and white.” 8 likes
More quotes…