Book – The Amber Spyglass
Author – Philip Pullman
Year – 2000
Pages – 550
Genre – Fantasy
Series – His Dark Materials
And so this trilogy concludes. I like to try and leave a gap between parts of a series, and I did so here, but I was very much looking forward to getting this one under my belt. I first read this series when I was still at school, and could remember surprisingly little about it, but most of the big events that I could remember took place in this one so it was with high anticipation that I picked this one up – oh and of course, some spoilers ahead, so don’t read on if you haven’t read any of the other books. Books later in the series are so much harder to do without spoilers.
Lyra is asleep and in the clutches of Mrs Coulter, but Will is determined to not let her go, and makes it his mission to find her and rescue her. Meanwhile, a battle is brewing to take on the Authority – ostensibly God – with Lord Asreal opposing him. At the same time, Mary Malone has made her way to a world occupied by cow-elephants on wheels who worship seeds (yeah, I know, but it works).
Wrapping up a trilogy like this is no mean feat, but Pullman smashes it. It rolls along at quite the pace, and brings together all of the characters you have loved over the course of the books. There is a reason this series is so well regarded, and for me – along with many others it would seem – this is the best book of the bunch. Many have spoken about it, and it won plenty of awards, but I have one great thing to point out and one that still doesn’t work.
Philip Pullman’s writing is still not great. There are asides throughout this whole trilogy that really take you out of the moment, and quite unnecessary exposition at times that is quite distracting. It is so unneeded that I occasionally found myself a little frustrated.
That quibble aside, what makes these books is the relationships between the characters, and Philip Pullman has shown himself to be an absolute master here. Every character that Lyra and Will interact with has an earned bond with them that is well described and developed, and I got genuinely incredibly emotional towards the end of the book. More so, the relationship between the two of them has all of the potential to be overly cloying, and yet is brilliantly done. I really rooted for them throughout and found the whole thing quite lovely.
The excellent news, is that there is more to come! Pullman has returned to Lyra’s Oxford in a new set of books and I will have to get hold of these later on this year and give them a try.