October 08, 2011

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

I'd have to give this third and final book in the Dark Materials Trilogy 3.5 stars. It wasn't nearly as good as the first, or even the second, yet despite that it did provide an ending for this very interesting fantasy series. This book should not be read as a standalone, but rather a reader should read the books in order starting with the first. For those not familiar with the series (and a possible spoiler) Lyra is a little girl who sets off on a quest to rescue her friend along with her daemon Pantalaimon and a mysterious alethiometer which always tells the truth. When her father opens a portal between worlds she goes through and meets a new friend in Will, who is the wielder of the subtle knife that can cut doorways between worlds. There is a war breaking out between rebels and the Authority and both children have to try to find out what is the best way for them to help but trouble comes when Lyra is kidnapped by her mother.

Now in this book, Will has set out to rescue Lyra and continue on in their quest. He is able to do so with the help of two rebel angels and a few small people from a different world. However, once they are together again they brave an even greater danger by journeying to the land of the dead. They hope to talk with some of their loved ones there for insight but it'll take more bravery and sacrifice then they can imagine. And while they're doing so the war is about to come to a head between Lyra's father and the leader of the Authority's troops, Metatron.

The characters were very very rushed in this novel. All of them change quite a bit (especially Lyra and Will) but it is done so quickly that it doesn't seem genuine. Even strong motivations are changed in the time it takes to blink and I felt myself re-reading a couple times to see if I had missed something. The book itself was also written very choppy and rushed and while I enjoyed the scenes with Mary the scientist on a different world, they only served to chop up the book even more. There is some controversy in this book and some of a religious nature could be offended by some of the content that Pullman has put down in this book. However one can make a choice to take the book seriously, or enjoy it as a fantasy read. And in my opinion I do think this is a series worth reading precisely because of the thoughts it provokes.

While this book wasn't the best of the series it did serve to act as closure on the series itself so I can't be too sorry I read it. I only wish Pullman would have wrote another book or left some of the ideas out to better serve the time line of this novel and keep it understandable.

The Amber Spyglass
Copyright 2000
465 pages

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