Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials, Book II

1997, 2003 Laurel-Leaf edition
Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials, Book II
Original price $6.99, purchase price $2.80
Slightly worn paperback

This is the book that introduces Will Parry, from "our world," when the title object cuts "windows" between worlds.  While he's got a fairly interesting back-story, with his father turning out to be not-actually-beheaded Grumman from the first book, I didn't really like him, and I especially didn't like his effect on Lyra.  While there's still some of her spunkiness from before, she spends too much of the book following his "orders."  I also didn't feel like the other characters were woven in as well as before, although Lee Scoresby has some good scenes.  (The witches are again "ragged" and "elegant.")  And the scene where Will meets his father and they realise each other's identities was packed with cliches, including the dad's death.

Still, the idea of the knife and the parallel worlds is interesting.  Pullman gets more obviously anti-church, with one of the characters saying that all churches are evil.  This doesn't make Pullman anti-Christian exactly, and the prophecy about Lyra indicates that she'll be "the new Eve."  We'll see how it's all resolved in The Amber Spyglass in 2000, but I can say now that The Cincinnati Enquirer review quoted on that book in this, "Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century," had already been proven wrong by another series that had begun the year this came out.  (OK, not a masterpiece, but better than this series.)

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