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His Dark Materials (Laurel-Leaf) [Mass Market Paperback]

Philip Pullman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (429 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 23 2003
Published in 40 countries, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – has graced the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

The Golden Compass
forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a world like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set partly in the world we know. The third moves between many worlds.

In The Golden Compass, readers meet 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Jordan College in Oxford, England. It quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own—nor is her world. In Lyra's world, everyone has a personal dæmon, a lifelong animal familiar. This is a world in which science, theology and magic are closely intertwined.

The Subtle Knife is the second part of the trilogy that began with The Golden Compass. That first book was set in a world like ours, but different. This book begins in our own world.

In The Subtle Knife, readers are introduced to Will Parry, a young boy living in modern-day Oxford, England. Will is only twelve years old, but he bears the responsibilities of an adult. Following the disappearance of his explorer-father, John Parry, during an expedition in the North, Will became parent, provider and protector to his frail, confused mother. And it's in protecting her that he becomes a murderer, too: he accidentally kills a man who breaks into their home to steal valuable letters written by John Parry. After placing his mother in the care of a kind friend, Will takes those letters and sets off to discover the truth about his father.

The Amber Spyglass
brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heartstopping close, marking the third and final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy. Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, The Amber Spyglass introduces a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spy-master to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. And this final volume brings startling revelations, too: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live—and who will die—for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that—in its shocking outcome—will reveal the secret of Dust.

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From Amazon

In the epic trilogy His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman unlocks the door to worlds parallel to our own. Dæmons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes--if it isn't destroyed first. The three books in Pullman's heroic fantasy series, published as trade paperbacks, are united here in one dazzling boxed set that includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. In these new editions, each chapter opens with artwork by Pullman himself, along with chapter quotations from the likes of Milton, Donne, Black, Byron, and the Bible that did not appear in earlier editions. Join Lyra, Pantalaimon, Will, and the rest as they embark on the most breathtaking, heartbreaking adventure of their lives. The fate of the universe is in their hands. (Ages 13 and older) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


"One of the supreme literary dreamers and magicians of our time" The Guardian "Philip Pullman. Is he the best storyteller ever?" The Observer --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful... Dec 19 2007
By C. Dill
I find it so disturbing that some reviewers are saying that this is a "poison" that entices children. Entices them to do what? READ? Isn't this something that we, as adults, can only hope for in order to create a more literate, educated world? Philip Pullman's trilogy is so amazing that I cannot begin to describe it in the eloquence it deserves. His entire message is that certain authorities in our world - and in all the worlds he so richly creates - will try to tell us what to do. They'll try to control us. That's EXACTLY what has happened after the movie release! Certain authorities are scared of his message: freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom to think for ourselves. I think Pullman's books have done exactly what he wrote about; they've set up this kind of duality between freedom and control, and it's manifesting in our own world in the same way it did in Lyra's world.

Let me put it this way: if a book can get people to speak about issues, that's a good thing. If it can get kids to read, that's a great thing. Why be afraid of this? Why tell children that they can't ask questions? Why the anxiety?

Buy these books. The trilogy is truly a masterpiece.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of storytelling and ideas. July 14 2002
Consider this: stories are a vital component of being human; without them, we would merely reproduce and die. That said, if the library of the world were on fire, and I had time to rush in and save only a handful of stories, this would be one of the first I would grab. I've been a lifelong reader and have a degree in Literature--I've read more than my share of stories. Philip Pullman has done an incredible thing by bringing these books into being. The story, though fantastical in many ways, speaks volumes about human experience: innocence, guilt, love, loss, and hope. The creativity is boundless; ideas about god, souls, consciousness, evolution and even contemporary physics are sculpted into a brilliant narrative. The underlying themes include a critique of dominant religious paradigms, which of course raises major antipathy in some readers (see other reviews). But I fail to see how a story that espouses freethinking can be anything but positive. Besides, the story is greatly concerned with--to oversimplify--love and responsibility; how can that be a bad thing? Above these undercurrents, though, the story is exciting, complex, and touching. There are moments that bring tears, goosebumps, and exhilharation. Pullman proves just how entertaining a profound story can be. If none of that entices you, Pullman has also invented one of the most fascinating ideas ever with his concept of daemons: animal-like companions that embody a person's soul. After finishing these books, you'll wish more than anything that you had one. I will read these books again and again, send them to my friends, leave copies lying in cafes, and read them over and over to my children. There are precious few stories that can compare with His Dark Materials. I only hope they eventually receive the widespread attention they deserve; if they were as widely-read as Harry Potter, the world would be the better for it.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
By M. B. Alcat TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Phillip Pullman's "Dark Materials" triology are the kind of books that you simply must read if you are a science fiction fan, or if you just like well-written books... You don't have to be a teenager to enjoy them, but you need to have a big imagination in order to thoroughly enjoy them. If that is the case, go on reading this review...

The "Dark Materials" triology takes place in a world similar to our own, that is at the same time very different. In that world, each person's soul can be seen, is called a "daemon" and takes the form of an animal. The daemons of children change their appearance constantly, but once the children become adults, their daemons choose only one form. Pullman's alternate world has other differences, too, for example the fact that it has different kinds of magic, and that witches and armored bears coexist with human beings. The result is that the world he builds is exotic, strange but at the same time familiar.

On the negative side, the writer also plays with an institution we are familiar with, the Church, using its name but leaving behind its essence, in order to talk about a world ruled by tyrannical ecclesiastical authorities. I didn't like that, and probably you won't like it either, but keep in mind that this is a work of fiction, and as such, its purpose is to entertain, not to be taken seriously. All the same, if you think your sensibilities will be offended, or that you won't be able to separate reality from fiction, don't buy this book. You will be losing a lot, though.

Regarding the plot of these books, the main character is an orphan girl named Lyra, that lives in the Jordan College of Oxford. Her life involves no more responsabilities than playing in the grounds (and roofs!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On a par with Tolkein, better than CS Lewis April 16 2010
By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is truly 1243 pages of on going action, thought provoking theoretical insights and pure enchantment. While the story, itself, unfolds itself in a mythical series of worlds that are nearly beyond our most vivid imagination, the allegorical truisms that are being portrayed are immense. Unlike 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Chronicles.....' where the tale of good vs. evil is compiled in highly readable texts, Philip Pullman re-examines the more recent conflicts between science and religion. Even though this struggle has only been with us since Darwin's time, the abrasiveness between these two parties remains as raw and vicious as it was at the time of the Scopes-Monkey trial. The church, whether it is defined as Catholicism, Fundamentalism, Islamicism, or the like, has stood as a steadfast bulwark against the progression of progressive, provable, scientific thought. This trilogy takes this struggle on and presents it in an idealistic, yet realistic, manner. Concepts such as 'Dust' are now scientifically being shown to exist and are presntly known as the Aksaic or Zero Point Field. Parallel universes have become part of the theoretical quantum physics melieu. Life after death, through near death experiences, are being shown to be far closer to Pullman's writings than anything that religious dogma has ever presented. And, lastly, it has always been the ignorance of not only the public that have stymied spiritual growth but the incessant need of the religionists to control and maintain the population under their inane dogmas.

The rumors that I heard before reading this series was that Pullman was a heretic and being so had twelve year olds children having sex in one section of the writings and that he actually had destroyed 'God' through a murderous act.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars ... reading the books would make it up for the bad movie but the books...
I thought that by reading the books would make it up for the bad movie but the books are quite boring.
Published 1 month ago by Christine Jenkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing books, cheap edition.
Great books, of course. This edition feels kinda cheap, but for the price you should definitely get it if you're interested.
Published 1 month ago by Simon L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic!
Very surprised by the novel and enjoyed the changed in style and format that this author brings to fiction; it is neither for the young nor the old. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Waymark, Graeme
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone Should Read This Series.
I remember reading these books as a kid. I still remember every bit of my journey through the universes and how Crushed I was when I flipped the last page of the Amber... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andres Consumer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
loved it
Published 3 months ago by denn
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This series is so much better than Harry Potter in that it is much more nuanced and much better written from start to finish. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rickard
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Trilogy!
Really enjoyed reading these books. Couldn't put them down. Would recomend to kids and adults. They are a great read.
Published 7 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Good price
Sometimes its a pain to find books in a book store but Amazon makes it easy to get those ones that you want.
Published 7 months ago by robert hartl
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Story of Ideas, Quantum Science, Adventure, and Love
Sadly, because this fine series was written within the context of the New Atheism, it has drawn considerable ire. Shades of Galileo! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Waltoon
5.0 out of 5 stars Books rock.
Great series. Its a shame production of a second series movie was stopped. The church is still ruining our lives.
Published 9 months ago by dustin johnston
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