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Old 08-29-2019, 06:58 PM
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Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust trilogy


***There will be open spoilers in this thread!!!****

The first book was published in 2017 and is called La Belle Sauvage. I hope that other people are reading or have read this; I know we have a lot of fans of Mr. Pullman's previous trilogy, His Dark Materials, here on the Dope. The second book, The Secret Commonwealth, is due in just over a month.

I actually purchased this some months ago but it languished as I took care of other books and other projects. When I did start it a few weeks ago, I was in no hurry and the book seemed okay with that. I found the characters and story interesting but not arresting and so every couple of days I'd read another chapter and then put the book down to reflect and digest. As I said, the book seemed fine with this: the plot is slow and fairly mundane as we get to know Malcolm and his world and the other people in it (including Lyra, of course). There's some intrigue and danger what with the secret religious police and all, but it's a fairly low-key story.

Until Chapter 15, that is. I read Chapters 15-25 in a blur of a couple of hours this morning. The pace of the story, the danger of the setting, the resolve and growth of the characters, all went from well-under-the-speed-limit to the-bus-from-Speed in less than two pages and by Og the flood grabbed me right up with the characters.

The only part I thought was weird, like it stuck out to me, was the the bit with Diania. It just seemed forced and like an aside, as if Mr. Pullman had an idea and wrote it well but then couldn't bear to part with it, despite it having no real bearing on the story at all.

I loved the growth and change within and regarding Alice. I didn't like her at the beginning of the book (as intended) and was genuinely surprised when it was Sister Katarina and not her who compromised the priory. I loved the way that she and Malcolm grew closer and closer; it felt natural and realistic to me.

I am still concerned about Mr. Taproot and wish that his fate was described in the book; I am doubtful that it will be given in either of the next two volumes.

I am at the moment disheartened by the knowledge that the next two books will take place well after the events of not just La Belle Sauvage, but well after the events described in His Dark Materials. Also, I'm not at all sure that either Malcolm or Alice is a part of this next book, and I really liked them both. I'd like to read more about them but I don't know that they'd fit with the story of Lyra at 20 years old (they'd be in their early and mid-30s). Also, the way that LBS ended, it kind of clears the way to keep them clear of the storyline, doesn't it? Seems a shame to waste good characters like that, tho…

Also, for fun, I got the Collector's Edition so I could enjoy some pictures with my novel and I have to say, the work done by Chris Wormell is fantastic and was a wonderful addition to my reading experience.

I kept looking for the kind of things that prequels do that fuck up the original work, but I didn't really spot anything glaringly obvious, so kudos to Mr. Pullman for that.

All-in-all, I give this book an enthusiastic "thumbs up"; I've pre-ordered the next book and am now prepped and primed for it.

Anyone else read this? Like it? Hate it? Let's talk about it!

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 08-29-2019 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 08-30-2019, 08:21 AM
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Absolutely loved it. Will discuss more when I have time but just to add - I haven't read it - Michael Sheen read it to me, and my oh my what a fantastic job he made of it. You should ask him to read it to you too!

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Old 08-30-2019, 05:53 PM
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I read it not long after it came out and loved it.

I'll have to read it again, actually- I don't remember Diania at all. I looked it up and it sounds vaguely familiar, but tells me that I need to re-read the book. Next book in just over a month, you say? I'll be on the lookout!
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:43 PM
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It seems I have greatly over-estimated the appeal of Mr. Pullman's work to my fellow Dopers.
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
It seems I have greatly over-estimated the appeal of Mr. Pullman's work to my fellow Dopers.
I just saw this thread. Mr. Pullman's work appeals to me enough that I am interested in this new trilogy and think I want to read it eventually, so I will not be participating in this "open spoilers" thread any time soon.
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
It seems I have greatly over-estimated the appeal of Mr. Pullman's work to my fellow Dopers.
I like his writing okay( I don't much like his public persona, he comes off as an arrogant ass in the press ). But I didn't even know these books existed. So thanks for letting me know - I'll be giving them a try at some point .
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Old 09-07-2019, 09:18 PM
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I listened to it on CD and loved it, there are some books that are greatly enhanced by a good actor reading the parts and this is one of them. I recently discovered Michael Sheen by watching Good Omens - he was a great choice for narrator and added a lot to the book.
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:09 PM
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I don't enjoy listening to other people read, but I have many friends who do and I'll be sure to recommend Mr. Sheen's performance to them. I mean, so far 3 of us have experienced the book and 2 of those 3 were happily listening to Mr. Sheen; that's a pretty strong "thumbs up".
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