'The Amber Spyglass' - Book Review

The Amber Spyglass
by Philip Pullman
Alfred A. Knopf, 518p.

This is the sequel to The Subtle Knife. This is the final book in the trilogy, the first being: The Golden Compass. I started re-reading them after watching the second season of the "His Dark Materials" TV series based on these books.

This one gets pretty strange: you thought it was weird in the last book, with three different parallel worlds (Lyra's Oxford with its dæmons, Will's Oxford - our world, and Cittàgazze with its spectres) ... Pullman now adds dozens more worlds (with the statement that there are infinitely more) ... including the world of dead. And he adds a race of people six inches tall, a very non-human race who run on wheels, plus angels. Is it fantasy? Or science fiction? It combines elements of both. It's also noticeably longer than the previous books.

Lyra and Will work together to survive, and to do the morally correct thing through great hardship. Mary Malone (a dark matter physicist and former nun introduced in the previous book) spends a lot of time with the wheeled "mulefa," learning about "Dust" (or dark matter). She is blessed (or cursed, but Pullman would consider it the former) to play the role of "the serpent," as she was told in the previous book - so it's inevitable that her path and Lyra's cross again. And Lord Asriel's war with Heaven reaches a peak - with Lyra's mother Marissa Coulter inevitably playing a vital role as well.

Pullman continues the idea that Lyra doesn't achieve all this on her own: many people - adults, children, even angels - fight with her. Some die unacknowledged for belief in the cause. Which is a bit dark for a children's book, but as I said before - more believable than her doing this alone.

Didn't love this series as much this time through as I did with the first reading, although it's still pretty good.

SPOILERS: Stop reading etc. I love that they allow God to die part way through the book: he was old and completely senile and being held captive by some of the other angels, and was happy for the opportunity of release. I still can't imagine this sitting well with the Christian Church - even if he was called "the Authority" in the context of the book.