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The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials [Paperback]

Philip Pullman
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (533 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 22 2001 His Dark Materials (Book 2)
In this stunning sequel to The Golden Compass, the intrepid Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld—Cittagazze, where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against the sky. But she is not without allies: twelve-year-old Will Parry, fleeing for his life after taking another's, has also stumbled into this strange new realm.

On a perilous journey from world to world, Lyra and Will uncover a deadly secret: an object of extraordinary and devastating power. And with every step, they move closer to an even greater threat--and the shattering truth of their own destiny.

This Yearling paperback edition contains 17 pages of bonus material: the secret letters and notes of Dr. Stanislaus Grumman. It also features chapter-opening artwork by Philip Pullman.

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The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials + The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials + The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials
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With The Golden Compass Philip Pullman garnered every accolade under the sun. Critics lobbed around such superlatives as "elegant," "awe-inspiring," "grand," and "glittering," and used "magnificent" with gay abandon. Each reader had a favorite chapter--or, more likely, several--from the opening tour de force to Lyra's close call at Bolvangar to the great armored-bear battle. And Pullman was no less profligate when it came to intellectual firepower or singular characters. The dæmons alone grant him a place in world literature. Could the second installment of his trilogy keep up this pitch, or had his heroine and her too, too sullied parents consumed him? And what of the belief system that pervaded his alternate universe, not to mention the mystery of Dust? More revelations and an equal number of wonders and new players were definitely in order.

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.

As Pullman moves between his young warriors and the witch Serafina Pekkala, the magnetic, ever-manipulative Mrs. Coulter, and Lee Scoresby and his hare dæmon, Hester, there are clear signs of approaching war and earthly chaos. There are new faces as well. The author introduces Oxford dark-matter researcher Mary Malone; the Latvian witch queen Ruta Skadi, who "had trafficked with spirits, and it showed"; Stanislaus Grumman, a shaman in search of a weapon crucial to the cause of Lord Asriel, Lyra's father; and a serpentine old man whom Lyra and Pan can't quite place. Also on hand are the Specters, beings that make cliff-ghasts look like rank amateurs.

Throughout, Pullman is in absolute control of his several worlds, his plot and pace equal to his inspiration. Any number of astonishing scenes--small- and large-scale--will have readers on edge, and many are cause for tears. "You think things have to be possible," Will demands. "Things have to be true!" It is Philip Pullman's gift to turn what quotidian minds would term the impossible into a reality that is both heartbreaking and beautiful. --Kerry Fried --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy now appears in sophisticated trade paperback editions, each title embossed within a runic emblem of antiqued gold. The backdrop of The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book I sports a midnight blue map of the cosmos with the zodiacal ram at its center. The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass carry similarly intriguing cover art, and all three titles offer details not seen in the originals: in Compass and Knife, for example, Pullman's stamp-size b&w art introduces each chapter; Spyglass chapters open with literary quotes from Blake, the Bible, Dickinson and more.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This is where things jump to a whole new level July 18 2014
By Andres Consumer TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
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 Spyglass. The subtle knife is where we are first introduced to Will and his story (an incredible one at that).

These books will take you on a fantastical journey through magical worlds with incredible object and even better characters. The story gets more complex as you move forward and you get more and more invested with the characters and story.
This is one of those series that we should all read. They are not a series just for children/teenager etc... They're for everyone.

Pullman wrote these books well and conveyed a solid story that had me trapped in it until I finished. You will feel empty when you're done, but you will have gained a lot in the process.

If you haven't read the second book in the series, you should do it now.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cuts to the quick! March 3 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Having written a review for the Golden Compass only days ago, I am now regretting giving it 4 stars because I loved the Subtle Knife so much more. I just found the storyline infinitely more rivetting.
With the Subtle Knife, I definitely can see now, the serious religious undercurrents (who am I kidding, tidle waves) that flow through this book. An afront to God? Perhaps, but it makes for damn good reading! I can't wait to start book three, in order to find out exactly who the good guys are and what Lyra must do in order to fulfill her destiny (and destroy others).
Some parts of the book did drag. I find Lyra and Will's story most interesting and often raced through the chapters that did not contain them in order to get back to the "main adventure". I can't wait to read "The Amber Spyglass".
If I could give 4.5 stars, I would, because I have a feeling I should reserve 5 stars for the final installment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing sequel to a good first July 4 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
While the plot of the Golden Compass is enthralling and a good read, the Subtle Knife expands upon it and unique ideas more than I would have imagined. I found myself much more taken in by the ideas Pullman expanded on - the link between science and fantasy and religion was a big appeal for me. This is a book (and series) I find myself telling everyone to read, because I was so taken by just how unique the storyline is. You won't be disappointed reading this.

The Golden Compass is longer and not as enthralling, but it is a vital set up to this and the next book (The Amber Spyglass), and worth reading so you can continue on with the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good Job June 8 2009
I placed this oder as a birthday gift to my daughter, It took awhile, but it got rectified> Amazon responded to my email very quickly. I ended up with 2 books. So I instructed them to go ahead and charge me for the other book. Very good service and wouldn't have it any other way. My daughter is very happy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Much more focused and exciting than the first Jan. 28 2008
If you're thinking to read this series, His Dark Materials, or were a bit put off by the first book, don't hesitate in starting the second, The Subtle Knife. This one is significantly more focused and interesting than The Golden Compass.

I am thoroughly looking forward to finishing the series off now with The Amber Spyglass.
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By M. B. Alcat TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The subtle knife" is the second book in Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" triology. The first book in the series is "The golden compass". If you haven't read it, don't continue reading this review because it has some spoilers. In case you have read "The golden compass", and are understandably eager to know how the story continues, I will give you some hints.

Do you remember the way in which "The golden compass" ended? Lyra and her daemon, Pan, enter an alternate world, passing through a bridge between worlds created by Lord Asriel. New adventures and an entirely new mission await them, as well as another friend, Will. Will Parry is a young boy from our world who is searching for his lost father, and running from the police after commiting a murder. Strangely enough, the fact that Will is a murderer makes Lyra trust him: after all, her dear friend Iorek is a murderer too.

Will and Lyra meet each other for the first time in a strange world where there are no adults, due to invisible Specters that kill them. That is the place where Will is going to find the Subtle Knife, a knife that can cut windows to other worlds, and that is capable of killing anything. Of course, that new tool will be highly useful to the children in their quest, related to the hideous crime Lord Asriel committed in order to create a bridge between worlds. Lyra and Will are not going to be alone, though: old and new friends will rush to help them. Unfortunately, they will also have to face old foes, and try to find out what some ambivalent people want from them.

On the whole, I think that "The subtle knife" is an entertaining book that will please those that have already read the first book in the series. Notwhitstanding that, I don't believe it is quite up to the very high standards previously set by "The golden compass". All the same, I recommend it as good reading material that you are likely to enjoy.

Belen Alcat
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5.0 out of 5 stars Even more riveting! July 25 2006
Once again Philip Pullman pulls off a spectacular work of fiction. The second book in His Dark Materials series is a must read for anyone who enjoyed the first book. I definately think the series should be read in order so that full understanding of the plot can be accomplished. Pullman succeeds in his creation of new and unique ideas for the second book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars At times it felt like the TV show, Lost
I read "The Subtle Knife" soon after having seen the movie "The Golden Compass" and I couldn't have realized that the story in "The Golden Compass" was just the tip of the iceberg. Read more
Published on March 3 2008 by Chris
4.0 out of 5 stars More gripping.
This is the second book of His Dark Materials (after Northern Lights, or The Golden Compass in the US, and before The Amber Spyglass). Read more
Published on July 8 2004 by Stephanie Noverraz
4.0 out of 5 stars More gripping.
This is the second book of His Dark Materials (after Northern Lights, or The Golden Compass in the US, and before The Amber Spyglass). Read more
Published on July 8 2004 by Stephanie Noverraz
4.0 out of 5 stars Good middle book
The Subtle Knife is a good middle book of a trilogy and in some ways a good 'link' book-not quite as good as the first in that you lose some of the novelty. Read more
Published on May 18 2004 by D. Spidet
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! Great Series!
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman is Amazing. It is an interesting fantasy novel that has tons of action. This book includes magic, battles, fantasy, science, and friendship. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by Jake Boyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! Great Series!
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman Is amazing. It is and interesting fantasy novel that has tons of action.This book includes Magic, Battles, Science, And Friendship. Read more
Published on May 16 2004 by Jake Boyd
4.0 out of 5 stars Not The Absalute Best...
Like i said. It's not the absalute best but it still is a good book. I was able to put it down BUT i couldn't. Read more
Published on May 6 2004
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