In less than a week’s time, eager readers will be able to dive back into the compelling parallel universe of Philip Pullman, first created by the author over 20 years ago. Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy began with the publication of Northern Lights in 1995 and continued with The Subtle Knife (1997) and The Amber Spyglass (2000), as well as an additional companion book, Lyra’s Oxford. Today, it is rightly remembered as one of the most brilliantly imaginative fantasy series of all times. (A rather disappointing 2007 film adaptation is rightly forgotten).
The novels were fantastically clever, drawing upon quantum mechanics and the idea of parallel universes, as well as the Biblical story of the fall of man and Milton’s Paradise Lost, to tell a complex tale about original sin, free will and the triumph of the human spirit in the face of religious oppression. More crucially, especially for their young target audience, they were also rattling good reads. In the stubborn, passionate and brave Lyra, and cautious, wise-beyond-his years Will, Pullman created two of the best-loved protagonists in young adult fiction.
La Belle Sauvage, the first instalment of Pullman’s long-awaited three-part follow-up, will be published on October 19, and we already know from the author that this section of the story will be set 10 years before the events of His Dark Materials, when Lyra is still an infant. Subsequent volumes in the series, collectively called The Book of Dust, will be set 10 years after the events of His Dark Materials.