Brierly's Reviews > La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
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bookshelves: reviewed, young-adult, fantasy

We return into the world of Lyra Belacqua and His Dark Materials with The Book of Dust, a companion triology that begins with La Belle Sauvage, taking place during Lyra's infancy. As with the original trilogy, The Book of Dust shines when it comes to world-building and classical adaptation. Anyone who has started The Golden Compass will be drawn in by daemons, animal-like creatures that represent your soul. Your daemon shape-shifts throughout your childhood before settling into one form, a lifelong companion that comforts and protects you. And as His Dark Materials rewrites Paradise Lost; so does The Book of Dust and The Faerie Queene.

I had a unique reading experience with this one... I felt like I was rushing through it, desperate on unraveling its mysteries. But the beauty is in the details. From the beginning, Lyra remains the protagonist, despite the POV from Malcolm. All events pivot around Lyra and her infancy with Pantalimon is truly wonderful. If you have ever wondered about birth, death, and daemonology, The Book of Dust will answer some of your questions. Ultimately, though, I still do not like the way Pullman writes youth romantic relationships. He writes well when discussing an individual child but when he starts talking about young love, whether in this book or in The Amber Spyglass, it doesn't sit right. Take it from someone married to her high school sweetheart.

So what happens in the narrative? Spoilers aside, we know Lyra spends her youth under scholastic sanctuary at Jordan College, Oxford. She's a highly coveted child that will fulfill a heretical prophecy, so numerous organizations want her dead or in captivity. So that's where she is headed... Pullman faces the impossible prequel task of writing towards a set ending. Therefore, since most of the book follows a heist-novel pacing (in which infant Lyra is the grand prize), the suspense is diluted because child Lyra will be safe from imminent harm. But as the next two novels in the trilogy are set post-Lyra's Oxford, I sense that La Belle Sauvage exists primarily as exposition. You discover more about Dust and alethiometers, as well as the Magisterium. And The Secret Commonwealth picks up when Lyra is 20 and an undergraduate... how exciting! Malcolm (and Alice) clearly care deeply for Lyra, so I hope they can continue to influence her life in a positive manner. Final note: I am also reading now that Malcolm is featured in Lyra's Oxford which I plan to read before the next release.
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Reading Progress

May 26, 2017 – Shelved
May 26, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
October 20, 2017 – Started Reading
October 20, 2017 –
page 14
3.12% "One chapter in to a brand new library book!"
October 20, 2017 –
page 97
21.51% "Going well so far!"
October 20, 2017 –
page 115
25.61%
October 20, 2017 –
page 186
41.24%
October 21, 2017 –
page 209
46.55%
October 21, 2017 –
page 280
62.08%
October 22, 2017 –
page 290
64.3% "End of weekend; ⅓ remaining"
October 23, 2017 –
page 310
69.04%
October 24, 2017 –
page 377
83.59%
October 25, 2017 – Shelved as: reviewed
October 25, 2017 – Finished Reading
March 21, 2018 – Shelved as: young-adult
July 19, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Brierly (new) - added it

Brierly Thanks Maddie!


message 2: by Rubens (new)

Rubens Great review!
I'm curious: what do you think that doesn't "sit right" about his romantic relationships narratives?
I didn't find it awkward in this book, but in the amber spyglass I remember (I read it many years ago) getting tired of the melodrama between Lyra and Will.


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