There’s something so spectacularly magical about the way Philip Pullman writes. His lyricism and imagination work so well together and the images he conjures are stunning. His Dark Materials make me want to read children’s books forever.
Set in a completely parallel universe, the book follows Lyra as she journeys to the Arctic in search of her missing friend, Roger, and Uncle Asriel who becomes imprisoned. It’s the first book in the trilogy and I’m sure I’m not the only one who wanted to pick up the next book as soon I’d shut the back cover.
The idea of human souls manifesting outside of our bodies is a major plot point, and these dæmons embody a sentient animal, bringing aid, comfort and companionship to their humans. The idea is genius, and one I loved as soon as I started reading. Lyra is intrigued after overhearing a controversial lecture on Dust from her uncle, Lord Asriel, and this leads her on her adventure.
Often fantasy novels take me a while to get into, but from the end of the first few pages I was hooked with Lyra’s character, and the idea of her dæmon.
Set initially in Oxford, Pullman uses varying forms of description to indulge the reader in the setting and life of Lyra. He does it so well it’s annoying. Pullman includes only what’s needed, and the scenes are visual and vivid, so much so that you can imagine them, and feel the atmosphere. Top writing, done well.
Along her journey, Lyra meets and interacts with many other people. There are themes of theology – particularly with the Gobbers – as well as abandonment and loss, which Lyra deals with both internally and externally. She’s a lot more than just her blonde hair, blue eye exterior, and this is developed throughout the novel and her journey, and the obstacles she has to face.
She’s crafty, brave, and equally curious. With Pan by her side, she manages to steer through the troubles and challenges until…
If you haven’t yet discovered Pullman and His Dark Materials, go and buy them. This introduction will leave you wanting more of his indulgent writing.