Northern Lights - Philip Pullman The Subtle Knife  - Philip Pullman The Amber Spyglass  - Philip Pullman

To be perfectly honest, these books have been sitting on the bookcase I use for most of my TBR books for quite a while and I've never got around to even starting them. I've always liked the idea of series (well, trilogies at least) where I can go from book 1 through to book 3 without the annoyance of waiting for stuff to be published, though now I understand a little more about the reasons why that might not be all that easy or work that well. 


Anyway, this series is pretty popular and there are probably folks out there who think it's the best thing since sliced bread. Sadly, however, I am not one of them, though I fully accept that if I'd read these books when I was a teenager myself, I might well have been smitten. Instead, by the time I was partway through The Amber Spyglass, I was just wanting everything to be over and wondering if it had been such a bright idea to read them at all; I'd invested so much time on the previous books I felt duty-bound to at least skim my way to the finale. 

 

 

There is, after all, a heck of a lot of plot in these books. I'm not completely certain that I got my head round what was going on with the concept of Dust, which crops up right at the beginning of Northern Lights - there's a lot going on about the difference between children and adults all the way through these books, from the mutability of people's accompanying daemons before they hit puberty, through to the attraction to adults of the Spectres we meet for the first time in The Subtle Knife

 

Northern Lights is all about Lyra, the abduction of her friends and the eventual role she plays in freeing them from becoming the victims of a scheme to do something or other about Dust. In The Subtle Knife, the character of Will is introduced - unlike Lyra, who comes from an alternate world where people have daemons (animal-shaped entities who seem to act partly as an external conscience and partly as a support mechanism), Will is from our world and stumbles into an alternate one by sheer accident. He then ends up as the bearer of the knife of the book's title, a tool that allows him to pass between those parallel worlds. Finally, in The Amber Spyglass, Lyra has initially been kidnapped by Mrs Coulter and Will stages a rescue, before they make a detour into the world of the dead in search of Lyra's friend and Will's father. 

 

In hindsight, I think I enjoyed the middle book best, though it does spend a lot of time setting things up for the events of The Amber Spyglass - new characters are introduced and a lot of not-very-much seems to happen in real terms. I can't say I particularly warmed to Lyra, she comes across as a bit of a special snowflake pretty much all the way through the books and, to be honest, Will isn't a great deal better. In some ways, I think the author does a better job with the supporting characters, which is not always a good thing if you're trying to make your reader give a crap about what happens to your protagonists! Anyway, that's 3 more books off the TBR pile and into the charity shop bag...