Book Review: The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

A few years there was a movie called the Golden Compass, based on the work of Philip Pullman, about a young girl called Lyra who owned and could read a strange instrument. She was the subject of a prophecy like Harry Potter and this made her a person of great interest to the religious, occult and scientific communities. The climax of the movie is when she frees a great polar bear and helps him regain his magic armor which makes him invincible in the war. If you enjoyed the movie, you’ll want to read this book.

The Book of Dust, his latest work, is the first of a trilogy published in 2017 is the prequel to Lyra’s story. It tells of the inauspicious circumstances of her birth, to the beautiful, yet terrifying Mrs. Coulter and the intrepid adventurer and scientist Lord Asriel. The two were in an adulterous love affair which resulted in the fatal shooting of Mr. Coulter by Lord Asriel in a fight. Lyra is born soon after. Mrs Coulter doesn’t have a maternal bone in her body and Lord Asriel is regarded as an unfit parent. As a result the baby Lyra is taken into sanctuary by the nuns at the priory in Godstow, a small village on the banks of the River Thames. There, she forms a bond with Malcolm, the innkeeper’s son who helps the nuns on a regular basis.

The story is told from young Malcolm’s point of view. An intelligent and curious child of uncommon kindness, decency and courage, Malcolm emerges as the hero, when the forces of nature, religion and the state threaten the baby Lyra’s life. After many misadventures and gaining an unlikely ally, Malcolm and his trusty canoe called La Belle Sauvage find themselves embroiled in a web of espionage as a they battle the elements, a demented ex-convict and religious fundamentalists in an effort to get Lyra to an alternative place of safety.

This is a gripping tale where the worlds of magic, reality, religion and fantasy collide in the battle for the hearts and minds of humanity. Philip Pullman takes us back to where it all began. The cliffhanger ending is sure to make you want to read the next work of this trilogy.

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