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The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials Paperback – May 22 2001


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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (May 22 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044041833X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440418337
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 19.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (533 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

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

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Taylor on 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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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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Format: Paperback
This is the second book of His Dark Materials (after Northern Lights, or The Golden Compass in the US, and before The Amber Spyglass).
Will Parry is a twelve-year-old boy living in Oxford with his mother, who's suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and his cat Moxie. His father, an arctic explorer, has gone missing almost since the boy was born.
Will's mother has been facing more and more crises of late, and strangers have been harrassing her repeatedly, asking questions about her husband, about the letters he sent her twelve years ago. Will decides to send her to his old piano teacher's house to keep her safe, but when these men come back and search their home, Will accidently kills one of them. Not wanting to call the police because they would put his mother into hospital, he takes his father's letters from their hiding place in the sewing machine, and flees.
But walking on the side of the road, he sees a cat much like Moxie suddenly disappear. Examining the patch of grass more closely, he discovers a window, resolves to cross it, and finds himself in Cittàgazze, a sun-drenched, palm-treed city on the sea shore, in another world.
The city looks as if everyone just left in a hurry though, and when Will is looking for food in the recently abandoned cafés, he stumbles onto a lost young girl, Lyra. Although shocked to see a human without a daemon, and after asking her alethiometer for advice, she knows she can trust Will, and they finally decide to help each other.
The rest of the book describes how they travel back and forth between worlds, Will searching for his father, Lyra gathering information about Dust, both making new allies as well as meeting new enemies, facing new, more deadly dangers.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This is the second book of His Dark Materials (after Northern Lights, or The Golden Compass in the US, and before The Amber Spyglass).
Will Parry is a twelve-year-old boy living in Oxford with his mother, who's suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and his cat Moxie. His father, an arctic explorer, has gone missing almost since the boy was born.
Will's mother has been facing more and more crises of late, and strangers have been harrassing her repeatedly, asking questions about her husband, about the letters he sent her twelve years ago. Will decides to send her to his old piano teacher's house to keep her safe, but when these men come back and search their home, Will accidently kills one of them. Not wanting to call the police because they would put his mother into hospital, he takes his father's letters from their hiding place in the sewing machine, and flees.
But walking on the side of the road, he sees a cat much like Moxie suddenly disappear. Examining the patch of grass more closely, he discovers a window, resolves to cross it, and finds himself in Cittàgazze, a sun-drenched, palm-treed city on the sea shore, in another world.
The city looks as if everyone just left in a hurry though, and when Will is looking for food in the recently abandoned cafés, he stumbles onto a lost young girl, Lyra. Although shocked to see a human without a daemon, and after asking her alethiometer for advice, she knows she can trust Will, and they finally decide to help each other.
The rest of the book describes how they travel back and forth between worlds, Will searching for his father, Lyra gathering information about Dust, both making new allies as well as meeting new enemies, facing new, more deadly dangers.
Read more ›
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