Amph His Dark Materials

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by JediTrilobite, Jan 3, 2006.

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  1. JediTrilobite Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 1999
    star 7
    A friend of mine recommended these books to me, and I really got into the universe. They're hard to place, SciFi, Fantasy, Religion, Alternate Universes, etc. They're some of the better written, plotted and amazing stories that I've ever read.

    The Golden Compass

    The protagonist of this complex fantasy is young Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Oxford University. But it quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own--nor is her world. For one thing, people there each have a personal daemon, the manifestation of their soul in animal form. For another, hers is a universe in which science, theology, and magic are closely allied:
    As for what experimental theology was, Lyra had no more idea than the urchins. She had formed the notion that it was concerned with magic, with the movements of the stars and planets, with tiny particles of matter, but that was guesswork, really. Probably the stars had daemons just as humans did, and experimental theology involved talking to them.
    Not that Lyra spends much time worrying about it; what she likes best is "clambering over the College roofs with Roger the kitchen boy who was her particular friend, to spit plum stones on the heads of passing Scholars or to hoot like owls outside a window where a tutorial was going on, or racing through the narrow streets, or stealing apples from the market, or waging war." But Lyra's carefree existence changes forever when she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, first prevent an assassination attempt against her uncle, the powerful Lord Asriel, and then overhear a secret discussion about a mysterious entity known as Dust. Soon she and Pan are swept up in a dangerous game involving disappearing children, a beautiful woman with a golden monkey daemon, a trip to the far north, and a set of allies ranging from "gyptians" to witches to an armor-clad polar bear.

    The Suble Knife
    The Subtle Knife offers everything we could have wished for, and more. For a start, there's a young hero--from our world--who is a match for Lyra Silvertongue and whose destiny is every bit as shattering. Like Lyra, Will Parry has spent his childhood playing games. Unlike hers, though, his have been deadly serious. This 12-year-old long ago learned the art of invisibility: if he could erase himself, no one would discover his mother's increasing instability and separate them.

    As the novel opens, Will's enemies will do anything for information about his missing father, a soldier and Arctic explorer who has been very much airbrushed from the official picture. Now Will must get his mother into safe seclusion and make his way toward Oxford, which may hold the key to John Parry's disappearance. But en route and on the lam from both the police and his family's tormentors, he comes upon a cat with more than a mouse on her mind: "She reached out a paw to pat something in the air in front of her, something quite invisible to Will." What seems to him a patch of everyday Oxford conceals far more: "The cat stepped forward and vanished." Will, too, scrambles through and into another oddly deserted landscape--one in which children rule and adults (and felines) are very much at risk. Here in this deathly silent city by the sea, he will soon have a dustup with a fierce, flinty little girl: "Her expression was a mixture of the very young--when she first tasted the cola--and a kind of deep, sad wariness." Soon Will and Lyra (and, of course, her dæmon, Pantalaimon) uneasily embark on a great adventure and head into greater tragedy.



    The Amber Spyglass
    From the very start of its very first scene, The Amber Spyglass will set hearts fluttering and minds racing. All we'll say here is that we immediately discover who captured Lyra at the end of The Subtle Knife, though we've yet to discern whether this individual's intent is good, evil, or somewhere in between. We also learn that Will still possesses the blade that allows him to cut between worlds, and has been joined by two winged companions who are determined to escort him to Lord
  2. TC-47 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2005
    star 2
    Isn't the first one called Northern Lights; I think that was the best anyway. The book was very controversial in its religious views and was definately very well written.
  3. JediTrilobite Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 1999
    star 7
    It's called the Northern Lights in England and Europe, IIRC. The Golden Compass is the American title.
  4. TC-47 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2005
    star 2
    Cool, have you read the book "His Dark Materials" its about how he came up with the ideas and stuff like that.
  5. JediTrilobite Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 1999
    star 7
    No, but I've been wondering if there's one out there. I'll check it out.
  6. Ariadne Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2003
    star 4

    I've got a book somewhere called 'The World of His Dark Materials'. It's fairly standard stuff on his inspiration, chiefly Blake and Milton. It has some interesting notes on the soul in Lyra's universe, but seems generally aimed at people who didn't pay attention during the novels as the author spends a lot of time explaining the basics of Dust and daemons.

    Has anyone here read Lyra's Oxford, Pullman's own short story set after Amber Spyglass? I quite liked it, but largely for the wealth of minute detail included in the 'Globetrotter' map of Oxford in the middle.

    I keep coming across rumours that Pullman intends to write his own companion to the series. This book is supposedly going to be called 'The Book of Dust'. Anyone else heard of it?

  7. mrsvos Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2005
    star 5
    A film version of this series has been in "development hell" for a while. I'm looking forward to it as another reason to piss off the Harry Potter bashing-type-people.
  8. Cobranaconda Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2004
    star 7
    I really enjoyed the books when I read them a few years back. Unfortunately I've forgotten most of what happened :p
  9. -RebelScum- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2004
    star 6
    Fantastic, some of the best fantasy I've read. I have currently lent out my Golden Compass to a friend. I have to say that I find it odd my school sold the trilogy box-set at the book-fair considering we are a Christian school. [face_laugh]

    Brillaint books.

    -The Scummy-
  10. JamesBatista Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2005
    star 1
    I've just begun the first book... pretty interesting stuff.
  11. JediTrilobite Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 1999
    star 7
    The Amber Spyglass is by far the best of the three.
  12. NeverKnowsBest Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 22, 2004
    star 2
    I loved both The Amber Spyglass as well as The Golden Compass. I only liked The Subtle Knife and thought it was the weak link of the series.
  13. Ariadne Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2003
    star 4

    I agree. I like The Subtle Knife, but I find it doesn't have the emotional impact of Northern Lights or the end of The Amber Spyglass. I read the latter in three hours, and had to go for a walk at the end to think about it all.

    Northern Lights is my favourite, I think. I love Lyra's universe, and poor Tony and his fish gets me every time.



  14. TC-47 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 29, 2005
    star 2
    Completely mad, RIP Tony, I loved the Golden Compass/Northern Lights. I liked the armored bears they are very strange.
  15. Kahnate Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 22, 2005
    star 1
    God, His Dark Materia was a **** whirlwind through my soul. No other book/series has left me so mentally and emotionally drained. I just can't put into words how that series affected me. The period of my life that I first read them in was perfect too. I was a Junior in High School and was just starting to think on my own, considering my own conclusions to everything I'd been taught in life and for the first time spending hours upon hours contemplating "What do I really believe." So maybe that's why it had such an impact. I still re-read it everynow and then, and lately, here in Iraq, I loaned it to some of my fellow soldiers and an NCO who all couldn't put it down, going so far as neglecting their duites to read them.

    It's really just good stuff.


    Kahnate
  16. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2002
    star 9
    I really liked them. Wasn't happy with the ending, though :(
  17. Teegirloo Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2005
    star 6
    I wasnt either i wanted the two kids to be together (i forgot the names) but overall i loved it.
  18. Ariadne Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2003
    star 4

    The ending really tugs at the heart strings :( It's one of the reasons I like Lyra's Oxford, because she is moving on even if she'll never stop loving Will.

    I understand that the bench in the Botanical Gardens really exists, and has become a bit of a tourist attraction in Oxford, rather like King's Cross for Harry Potter fans.

  19. Hananiah Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 15, 2003
    star 4
    I wasn't sure about Lyra in the begining, but she grew on me. I loved the scene when she and Wil meet, a really good melding of the two worlds. The ending was really heartbreaking, the relationship between Lyra and Will seemed really mature and grown up even though it was told through children. I felt really bad for Lyra in the end when she found out about her parents though.
  20. DarthSparhawk Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2006
    Good series with interesting characters, but I was displeased with the anti-Christianity stuff.
  21. raisedbywolves Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2005
    star 2
    YAY! I was about to start this thread.

    The Golden Compass was a big childhood favorite of mine. I loved the Gyptians, the witches and especially Iorek and like some of you guys, felt awful for Tony without his daemon :_| I've given away at least 5 copies of that book. Most of them were mine, meaning I had to buy it again and again.

    The best thing in The Subtle Knife were the Specters. How creepy.

    And I do know a lot of people who didn't like the ending, but I think it just added to the allegorical quality of the books, as a story about adolescence. Lyra matures emotionally and physically, discovers she lives in a world where she has to be her own moral authority, and she loses her first love. Isn't that how it normally works?

    As for the movie... I am so worried. My first thought was "OH NO!" If they screw it up a la Chronicles of Narnia, I'll be mad. I was kinda hoping Hiyao Miyazaki (the Princess Mononoke guy) would make an anime version, but I guess that's never going to happen now.
  22. -RebelScum- Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 21, 2004
    star 6
    I personally wasn't offended. It was an interesting spin and I just had to read it at a distance. Besides, without any of the religious aspects it wouldn't even be the same story. And to be honest, the Church was pretty messed up around the time this took place. (or at least the time Lyra's world appeared to be in)

    -The Scummy-
  23. DarthSparhawk Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2006
    Probably Pullman's interviews and ugly remarks about "narnia" influenced my opinion. Still, I won't deny that HDM is a good book. The religious subplot could have been more subtle, though.
  24. JediNemesis Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 27, 2003
    star 4
    I enjoyed HDM immensely and didn't have a problem with the religious aspects. I agree with RebelScum in that it simply wouldn't have been the same story without the religious angles.

    I don't think I've read any interviews with Pullman, although I do remember hearing something about what he said about Narnia. He's entitled to his views, though - doesn't make him any less of a talented writer.

    Also, in HDM I never really got the impression that it was anti-Christianity as a faith. The Christian Church of Lyra's world is presented as a vile organisation, but then it's stuck in a mindset that's pretty close to that of the Inquisition. [face_plain]
  25. Ariadne Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 2003
    star 4

    I'm not Christian myself, but... I always read Asriel's war on 'The Authority' as a comment on the perils of blind faith and letting other people do your thinking for you. I never found it particularly anti-Christian, mainly because the type of Christianity portrayed in the novels died out in our own world with the birth of the Renaissance. Fortunately for us ;)

    Also, neither Metatron or The Authority are actually God despite what they claim, so it can't really be true Christianity at all. I suppose that means that the Magesterium et al are as bad as those who made idols of the golden calf when Moses was up the mountain, so according to the strictest doctrine, they deserve all they get...

    Just my two penn'orth :)



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