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The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Updated on January 19, 2015

The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

I first read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy about 5 years ago. If anyone asks me for book recommendations, or what my top books are, I always go straight to the His Dark Materials trilogy.

You might know them better as their individual books. The first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy is Northern Lights - but known in America as The Golden Compass. The second book in Philip Pullman's trilogy is The Subtle Knife, then ending with book three, The Amber Spyglass.

The His Dark Materials trilogy, has everything you want in a Young Adult book - love, loss, adventure and a whole lot more!

Photo credit: All images on this page are from Amazon.com

Why I LOVE His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

I love the His Dark Materials trilogy for so many reasons. I think it's fair to say that the first book Northern Lights / The Golden Compass starts off as a book aimed at the younger end of the Young Adult readership, and you think you're reading a relatively simple story. Then once I got engrossed (which happened very quickly) and went onto book2 The Subtle Knife, without realising it, the books grew and grew into a story of epic proportions.

So many times whilst reading, I thought "wow that's really clever", or "I like what Philip Pullman did with the story there" but then I got onto the 3rd book, The Amber Spyglass and my mind was blown! I couldn't believe that Pullman was able to grab an audience and take them through so many ideas and themes. We face good and evil, ideas of faith, religion and ideology. We go through emotions of love, family, companionship right through to loss and death.

It's like Pullman has something to say, but knew the only way to do it, would be through his characters, and letting us marinade with them for the first half of the trilogy, then when we get towards the end of this epic tale - what the characters go through really speaks to us as humans, and lets us examine our perceptions of the world and the ideas we hold. For a book to do that, I believe is very special indeed. That's why I have so much love for the His Dark Materials Trilogy.

Have you read HIS DARK MATERIALS?

Have you read any of the His Dark Materials Trilogy books?

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This is not just a book for Young Adults...

Did you know, that whilst you will find this book in the Young Adult section of a book shop, it was original intended for the Science Fiction genre. However, the publishers at the time thought it would get a wider readership by marketing it as a Young Adult book. Looks like they were right to do so!

What is the His Dark Materials Trilogy about?

Book1: Northern Lights / The Golden Compass - The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Lyra is an 11 year old girl, who lives with the scholars amongst the colleges of Oxford. Her friends are few and far between, so makes her home at Jordan College, with her Daimon, Pan. Lyra doesn't live in our world, however it is very similar and has many parallels. The main difference are the Daimons; animals that are the embodiment if a human soul, that goes everywhere with their human and can not be torn apart.

One of her gyptian friend gets kidnapped by the gobblers, which triggers an epic journey to get him back, ensuing an epic battle with the Polar Bears of Svalbard - which intertwines with the storyline of her devoted uncle, Lord Asriel as he starts his mission to find Dust, heading for the Northern Lights. What's the connection between dust and the gobblers? How will Lyra find her friend? Who is Mrs.Coulter, and why is she do interested in Lyra? What is an Aliethometer (The Golden Compass) and how does Lyra make it move?

Book2: The Subtle Knife - The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

A continuation of book1, takes Lyra into more peril. She's gone too far and got too involved with the mystery of Mrs.Coulter. We meet Will, from our universe, who lives in the Oxford we know today. He finds a special knife and once harnassing it's power, meets Lyra, and the 2 of them begin their journey to protect the children and defeat evil - but who is at the heart of the evil? Lord Asriel? Mrs.Coulter? The Gobblers? The Daemons? Iorek Bernerson, the reigning Polar Bear king? The witches? The Dust?


Book3: The Amber Spyglass - The His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

Is Lyra left for dead, and can Will get to her in time? As Lyra and Will jump from universe to universe, they discover something incredibly significant about dust and why it needs to be saved. But it's only with the amber, preserved from another universe, will they be able to find it. Their journey takes them to clutches of hell and the gates of heaven.

Amazon reviews say: In concluding the spellbinding His Dark Materials trilogy, Pullman produces what may well be the most controversial children's book of recent years. The witch Serafina Pekkala, quoting an angel, sums up the central theme: "All the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity. The rebel angels, the followers of wisdom, have always tried to open minds; the Authority and his churches have always tried to keep them closed."

More reviews on Amazon say: "I NEVER cry at the end of books, but I did at the end of this one!"

Did you know that Book1, The Golden Compass, got turned into a film?

Although it wasn't the most successful adaptation from book to screen, but in 2008, The Golden Compass was turned into a film starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. You can find "The Golden Compass" on DVD, at amazon.com here

Why else do I LOVE Philip Pullmans HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy?

I feel very connected to the books, mainly because I live in Oxford, where the book is set, and his descriptions are do evocative and real. I can't help falling in love with the books every time I read them. They really are excellent!

There's a gorgeous moment at the end of the series, that is set in the Oxford Botanical gardens, that you can actually visit in real life... and yes, I went to the gardens to visit specifically because I had read the trilogy! You'll understand what I mean, and why this is so significant, once you read them.

Who will the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy appeal to?

Everyone! The His Dark Materials books are aimed towards the Young Adult market, but were written for no age group in particular.

I think young boys would particularly like this series - as they can look up the male protagonist, Will. I used to work in a bookshop and was there for the release of the 3rd book, The Amber Spyglass, by that time I hadn't read them, but the MASSIVE queues of people buying it pricked my interest, especially as most if the queue was young folk, in particularly boys with their parents. Knowing that reading levels of boys is not as high as it should be - this pleased me. It reminded me of the hype of a Harry Potter release! I knew I had to read these books at that moment...and so happy I have!

Did you know that His Dark Materials has been put on stage?

This EPIC book was turned into a stage production, by the National Theatre, UK, back in 2004. The turned the book into 2 plays. On certain days, they would show Part1 as a matinee, and Part2 as an evening show. It was phenomenal! Probably one of the most ambitious and awe inspiring things I've ever seen in the theatre - they way they jump from universe to universe was astounding.

Read His Dark Materials as a play script, from the National Theatre here...

What are Daemons, in the His Dark Materials world?

In Lyra's world, everyone has a daemon. If you are male, your Daemon is a girl, if your a girl, your daemon will be a boy. They are the animal embodiment of your soul, that you can see and talk to. Although it's an animal, it can talk too. They stay with you for life and can never be separated.

When you are young, your daemon can change into whatever creature it wants, but during puberty, it locks to one animal.

In the book to the left, you can see in Lyra's right hand, Pan, her daemon, where is has transformed into a pole cat.

Do you have a Daemon?

What animal would your Daemon be?

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OMG! Philip Pullman is writing ANOTHER book in the HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy?

YES! Amazing news! Pullman is writing another book for the HIS DARK MATERIALS series, called THE BOOK OF DUST. It's still being developed, but it looks like it will be in 2 volumes, with one half being set before HDM, and the 2nd half happening 2 years after the HDM books. The 2nd half will reunite us with the now 16 year old Lyra! I CAN NOT FREEEEEEEKING WAIT!!!!

Who is Philip Pullman, the author of the His Dark Materials Trilogy

Philip Pullman is a British author, from Norwich. He is author of many, many books and is esteemed to be in the "Top50 list of authors since 1945" by The Times newspaper.

Multi-award winning author, his background is in teaching at Oxford. He became a CBE in 2004. Read more about Philip Pullman at Wikipedia

Visit Philip Pullman's website here

Philip Pullman's additional books for the His Dark Materials Trilogy

Philip Pullman has wirtten two short stories, that take place in Lyra's world. They are not part of the His Dark Materials Trilogy itself, but they involved some of the characters and are set at that time...they are also excellent reads on their own!

Thank you for visiting my page about His Dark Materials...please sign my guestbook before you leave

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    • MarcoG profile image
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      Marc 2 years ago from Edinburgh

      Yes! I saw it too. I manage to get a matinee part1, and evening part2. Utterly breath taking. The daemon puppets were so beautiful. Thanks for stopping by :D

    • Siclone profile image

      Simon 2 years ago from NSW, Australia

      Great Lens, these are my favourite books, although it has been a few years since I read them. I was lucky enough to see the play in London several years back, performed over two parts, staring Timothy Dalton. It was amazingly done. Just a shame the film was not even close to the standard set by the book and play.

    • MarcoG profile image
      Author

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      @texan203 lm: Thanks very much Texan (you're name isn't really Lee Scorsby, is it? lol). I LOVED His Dark Materials so much - I really recommend it :)

    • texan203 lm profile image

      texan203 lm 5 years ago

      Spectacular lens, great book review.

    • MarcoG profile image
      Author

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      @IsobelDeSantis: Thanks for visiting Isobel - I wonder what part made you feel like it was a cop out?

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      IsobelDeSantis 5 years ago

      I loved the books but I thought the end of The Amber Spyglass was a cop-out - I get the feeling it wasn't the ending Pullman wanted.

    • MarcoG profile image
      Author

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      @colgrym: Thank you very much indeed, Colgrym

    • colgrym profile image

      colgrym 5 years ago

      Absolutely stunning lens, you must have put some work into this one.. My congratulations sir and thank you.

    • MarcoG profile image
      Author

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      @TrishaCornelius1: I don't know anyone who didn't cry at the end! It's such a good book! Check out Once Upon A Time in the North, it's pretty good! I'm looking forward to the Book of Dust too!

    • TrishaCornelius1 profile image

      Trisha Cornelius 5 years ago from Gauteng, South Africa

      @grannysage: Grannysage, you need to read the Amber Spyglass, it is one of the best books that have ever been written, it is such a tale of love and hope and humanity. Read it! You will not regret it.

    • TrishaCornelius1 profile image

      Trisha Cornelius 5 years ago from Gauteng, South Africa

      I absolutely love his Dark Materials books. I love how compassionate Pullman is and his story telling is masterful. I cried like a baby at the end of the Amber Spyglass. I knew about Lyra's Oxford but not about Once Upon a Time in the North.

    • MarcoG profile image
      Author

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      @grannysage: Hey Diane, I recommend 100% that you pick them up and read again, lol. Funnily enough, opposite to you, I didn't like Northern Lights so much, I preferred the Subtle Knife - but then Amber Spyglass blew me away! Thanks for stopping by x

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      I really liked the first one, the second much not so much, and didn't start on the third. From what you are saying here maybe I should have finished them because I still don't know why dust needs to be saved. Excellent review and cool that you live in Oxford.