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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Review by Mike

The Subtle Knife, part two of His Dark Materials, continues the story started in The Golden Compass. A new main character, Will Parry, is introduced, and the story is set in no less than three different parallel worlds, one of them our own. TGC was solely dedicated to Lyra, but now we get to follow a number of people as they seek to find out whatís going on. In the beginning youíre a bit confused, but then slowly things start to converge towards the end of the book.

The Worlds

The basis of the whole series is that there exists a large, perhaps infinite, number of parallel universes. All of them looks the same, and the evolution probably has a common starting point somewhere in the past. Yet they are very different in some aspects. The adventures take place in three of them - Lyraís world, our world (where Will comes from) and a third world, that in some ways is a starting point for travelling between them.

The Characters

Lyra was the big star in TGC, but Pullman gives the rookie Will equal attention in this book. This is only to the good, since he is perhaps a more interesting character. Itís not that Lyra is a bad character, not at all, but Will has had a tough childhood compared to her, so he automatically gains your sympathy.

The Plot

Well, I admit to being confused after The Golden Compass, and itís only towards the end of this book that I felt "OK, now I begin to understand". Little by little vital information is delivered, and there are one or two surprises, especially at the end. Still, there are a lot of question marks left for the final volume to answer. Good work!

The Grade

So, TGC impressed me, and I enjoyed every minute of TSK as well, especially the final chapters. At the end my first impulse was "Hey, I want to read the finale now!", which of course is a very good sign. Therefore I can't give this book less than five amulets.


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