Monday, May 17, 2010


The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman, Random House Inc, 2000, 465 pp

I missed posting my usual children's book review yesterday, so today I will combine a Young Adult/Adult book in one post. I am still not sure that Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is truly Young Adult literature, though I concede that it can work on different levels for different readers.

I guess I had no idea how the trilogy would end. In fact, I had no idea throughout this third volume. Well, I was getting clues but Pullman's excellent plotting did keep me wondering.

 The Amber Spyglass moves at a different pace than the earlier two novels; not at that breathtaking speed. I was aware of all the threads of the story being pulled to the conclusion. I wasn't sure I liked it. The story got thick and a bit turgid, more thoughtful, despite continuous action. Then I realized that Lyra, Will, Lord Asriel and even Mrs Coulter were all changing in unpredictable ways.

 Obviously Lyra would have to come of age, so to speak, because the whole dust thing hinged on that. So she does and it is a little sad to see her feisty, fearless, reckless childhood self evolve into something new. But when I thought about it, who would want the females of the world to always be eleven years old.

 I won't say more because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't finished the series. Not everyone agrees with Philip Pullman's thesis and conclusion but in my opinion he accomplished a wonderful feat of imagination, storytelling and philosophy.

(The Amber Spyglass is available in paperback on the science fiction/fantasy shelves at Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)


  1. I love this trilogy so much! It kept me on the edge of my seat, all through the Amber Spyglass. I thought that the nuance of his "villains" was commendable, as many who write for Young Adults believe that they MUST write a one-dimensional bad guy (among other faults). This book made me bawl my eyes out, though I suppose not in the places one might expect. A scene involving a certain high-flying hero and his furry friend turned me into an absolute baby! Hope all is well with you and OUAT!


  2. Thanks Carolyn! So good to hear from you. I like your comment about the villains.