Monday, November 22, 2010

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman is a trilogy consisting of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.  They have been on my TO READ list for a while now, but I kept putting them off.   I had heard they were chalk full of controversy and on the Church's banned book list.  I'm not sure why I cared about it being on the boycott list by the Church, they don't approve of Harry Potter either and I didn't care.  I really kind of feel like a book is a book is a book and at the end of the day I have to be responsible for my own beliefs where ever I acquired them. And besides, I'm not the kind of person who believes something just because some one told me to.

As I was reading I made a mental list of all the possible reasons the books would have been on the do not read list.  Here's what I came up with:

Fallen Angels
An Angel who poses as the authority (God)
a plot to kill God
Alternate, Parallel Universes to ours
Talking animals
Portraying the institution as corrupt and inherently evil
Passages to other worlds in the air
Souls existing outside people as daemons
Original sin appearing as dust that gathers around people

Maybe if you are good at the whole drawing implied references out of fiction you would have taken more offense to the storyline.  But I think I already established that English wasn't my strongest subject.  The story at face value was really good.  Good as in I liked it like I liked Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia or the Percy Jackson books.

What I learned from wikipedia is that the trilogy was written to be somewhat a retelling and an inversion of John Milton's Paradise Lost.  (crickets chirping)  Which means I guess maybe I should add that to my TO READ list as well now.

In the Golden Compass, we meet Lyra and discover what the Authority has plans to do by way of severing children from their deamons.  Severing this bond releases a large amount of energy that can be used to open up doors into other worlds.  Lyra also finds the golden compass (the elithiometer) and learns how to read it.  It is a truth telling device that will answer any question you ask of it if you know how to use it properly.  We also learn that there is a prophecy about Lyra.  That she is meant to do something great but she must not know about it ahead of time.

Its not until the Subtle Knife that we learn that there are a large number of parallel universes to ours and it is possible to use the Subtle Knife to cut a door from any world into another.  The Subtle Knife is a continuation of Lyra's mission and the book where we are introduced to Will.  He will also have a significant role in Lyra carrying out the prophecy.

In the final book we learn what exactly the prophecy about Lyra is and see it be fulfilled.

My Favorite Characters:
Lorek Byrnison  is an armoured bear.  He has been tricked out of his rightful role as king of the bears and Lyra helps him to regain it.  Afterward, he is instrumental in Lyra fulfilling the prophecy.

Lee Scoresby is an aeronaut from Texas.  I loved him because he is good hearted deep down but extremely blunt (as in has no people skills), if it doesn't directly help him out then he's not for it.  He loves Lyra like a daughter and would protect her with his life.  There is also something about strong-willed Texans.  I liked Lee Scoresby just as much as I liked Richard from Texas in Eat, Pray, Love.

Serafina Pekkala is a witch that is all at once old and young, and extremely knowledgeable.  I saw her as a mother figure to Lyra.  Serafina in the beginning is the only one who knows the prophecy about Lyra.

Marisa Coulter, turns out to be Lyra's mother.  She wishes to destroy Dust and thus Original Sin.  Mrs. Coulter seems to switch sides regularly and the whole time I was left wondering if she was truly good or evil at the core.  

Now, I am off to find Paradise Lost at the library.

1 comment:

  1. This is on my list of books to read too. I see why the church banned it, but like you a book is a book. Narnia is also on my list to read too. I am sort of sad the movie trilogy didn't go far.



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