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The Temptation of Lyra *SPOILER*
on January 6, 2008
I thought I agreed with everyone that this last book in the series was a complete disappointment. BUT....hear me out, I'm sure I'm not the only one that put down the book in order to really think for a moment(or threw it, as seems to be the case in many reviews since it seems to abrubtly stop without a hint of resolution). Perhaps the last book is so subtle compared to the first two and Pullman actually has a point that isn't spelled out and repeated over and over as many of his ideas in the writing are (the diamond shaped bodice of the mulefa....seriously, did any of you NOT miss that point? <sarcasm>). So, here is what I have deciphered as a coherent meaning to the end of The Amber Spyglass:
Mary Malone's role with the Mulefa IS important because it helps her to regain that feeling that she once had as a child falling in love (through her experimentation and understanding of Dust). She is led to the opening for the dead and is reminded to "tell them stories" which leads her to share this notion with Lyra. Lyra in turn has a "door open inside of her that she never knew existed" which causes her to acknowledge her love for will. That moment becomes the pebble that changes the course of the river (or whatever metaphor you prefer) and Dust, as a concious substance, uses that moment in time as a foothold to save itself. Shaky, yea...but it works. As for the whole "fall" comparison....Just as Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden at the realization of themselves to a life committed to finding a way back into Heaven, Will and Lyra are unable to stay in their "Eden" (being together) after their realization of love and are cast back into their worlds to a life committed to building the Republic of Heaven.
Now, I must say that this is by far a disappointment when compared to the other two books, but only in the sense that where Pullman has been anything but vague or subtle anywhere in the first two books; all of a sudden when you are expecting this amazing battle and armageddon, the death of the creator, resolution, etc. There's silence. Instead, he gives us a moment. One moment that this entire trilogy builds to. Over and over we are reminded that the different worlds exist because at one time when something happened in one, chances caused something different to happen in another and by that moment, caused another world to come into existence. The moment where Will and Lyra fall in love seems like a complete disappointment when in fact it is the only act that changes the course of everything. Anticlimatic, you bet. Annoying, to me at least. Pullman, however, does manage to end things and not leave you hanging you just have to read a little deeper than you had been.
So, I still think the book was a complete disappointment, but only because I desperately wanted a different ending. I wanted more of the characters I had grown to love, I wanted an amazing battle, resolution between Lyra and her parents, Will and his mother, etc. The book itself could never stand alone, yet you need to read it to come to your own terms about the trilogy.