Book of the Month: His Dark Materials

Last Sunday I finished reading His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. I really enjoyed the three books. What starts as a children’s adventure in Northern Lights (also known as The Golden Compass) evolves into a complex story in The Subtle Knife and ends in an epic struggle between good and evil in The Amber Spyglass.

I like the three novels for a lot of reasons:

  • The story is quite novel and very unlike the usual fantasy story taking place in a medieval setting.
  • I like the humanistic philosophy developed during the course of the story.
  • The world of  Northern Lights where people have dæmons is really fascinating. Philip Pullman invents a whole society based around this situation.
  • There is an ample supply of very well written characters. Each of them has a strong background which makes her or his behaviour very believable. And a lot of the characters develop during the events in a way that is in line with the events portrayed by the story.
  • The whole story is well planed. Philip Pullman manages the multitude of story lines like a conductor guiding an orchestra. Even an immensely powerful object like the Subtle Knife cannot cut holes in his plot.
  • And there is that end! I really hate it because it is so sad. But I also love it because it is so brilliant. You can see the doom in advance and begin to think frenetically how things could turn out allright. But in the end the outcome cannot be changed. I agree with Silke that the end makes it even more worthwile to read these books.

If you so far only saw the movie The Golden Compass and are waiting for the sequels I would highly recommend to read the books instead:

  • The studio is not planning to finance further movies based on His Dark Materials as the Golden Compass was not very successful at the box office in the United States.
  • The first movie is incomplete as the scenes taken from the final three chapters of the first book were deleted from the movie (although at least one scene is shown in one of the trailers).
  • Considering the controversy over these books the story would probably be watered down badly if the sequels would ever be produced. This already happened to some extend in the adaption of the first movie.

So if you want to know what the story is really all about you have some reading ahead of you. 😉