The world of Cittagazze is an unsettling place: silent, empty streets, the threat of horrible death from the soul-eating Spectres from which only children are safe. Into this world comes Will, a 12 year old boy who has just killed a man. On the run, he meets a strange young girl called Lyra. Their paths take them to the mysterious Torre degli ...Read MoreThe world of Cittagazze is an unsettling place: silent, empty streets, the threat of horrible death from the soul-eating Spectres from which only children are safe. Into this world comes Will, a 12 year old boy who has just killed a man. On the run, he meets a strange young girl called Lyra. Their paths take them to the mysterious Torre degli Angeli, where they must somehow acquire Cittagazze's most important secret: an object which people from many worlds would kill to possess. But Will has his own task as well: he must find the father he has never known. Could it be that this quest, and Lyra's, are a part of the same larger one? The Subtle Knife is part 2 of the trilogy His Dark Materials.Read Less
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In this second book of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, Lyra leaves the captivatingly created world in which the entire first book took place. Despite my reluctance for the narrative to leave Lyra's world, I was ultimately caught up even more tightly in the new worlds into which she ventures. Pullman's creativity really caught fire here, and his skill in committing these flights of imagination to the page is nearly unmatched in other contemporary young adult authors. I literally could not put the book down except to do the most basic tasks, such as eating and sleeping when I absolutely HAD to.
"The Subtle Knife" may simply be a transitional book between the beginning and the denouement of Lyra's story, but it hurtles with the pace of a freight train, making for a very exciting read. One of the most effective aspects of Pullman's storytelling is that despite the heart-pounding, frantic speed of the narrative, he still somehow makes time for deep, intricate characterizations of his protagonists and antagonists. I always felt like I was reading about real people in these fantastical circumstances.
This book is a wonderful continuation of the very complex story begun in the first installment.
Jul 5, 2007
Don't be put off by the "young adult" label. This is subtle, erudite fantasy. You must read The Golden Compass (Northern Lights) and The Amber Spyglass, the first and last books in the trilogy.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-06-30 More than fulfilling the promise of The Golden Compass, this second volume in the His Dark Materials trilogy starts off at a heart-thumping pace and never slows down. On the run after inadvertently killing one of the sinister men who have been stalking his emotionally disturbed mother, Will, 12, hitchhikes to Oxford to seek information about his father, an explorer who vanished in the Arctic over a decade ago. As Will searches for a place to sleep, he stumbles upon Citt?gazzeŠa deserted city in another worldŠaccessible via a sort of magic gateway located (in one of the story's many witty mixes of the banal and the unearthly) near an ordinary traffic circle. Crossing into this peculiar place, Will encounters Lyra (heroine of the previous book), who has left her own world to find out what she can about the mysterious substance called Dust. Will and Lyra (and Lyra's daemon) join forces and travel between worlds, performing a mind-boggling multidimensional burglary, uncovering the ugly secrets of Citt?gazze and gaining hold of an ancient and powerful weapon (the "subtle knife" of the title). Adding to the suspense are subplots involving Lyra's former companion, the Texan balloonist Lee Scoresby; the evil but beautiful Mrs. Coulter; the fierce Northern witch clans; and the mysterious Dr. Stanislaus Grumman. As in Golden Compass, the Arctic settings prove a strikingly original fantasy terrain. And where the first book hinted at a defective cosmology, this work develops that theme in terms of Judeo-Christian theology. Squeamish readers should beware: the narrative touches on such grisly topics as trepanning and genital mutilation. Nevertheless, the grandly exuberant storytelling is sure to enthrall. Ages 10-up. (July)
Publishers Weekly, 2002-09-16 Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy now appears in sophisticated trade paperback editions, each title embossed within a runic emblem of antiqued gold. The backdrop of The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book I sports a midnight blue map of the cosmos with the zodiacal ram at its center. The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass carry similarly intriguing cover art, and all three titles offer details not seen in the originals: in Compass and Knife, for example, Pullman's stamp-size b&w art introduces each chapter; Spyglass chapters open with literary quotes from Blake, the Bible, Dickinson and more. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-11-01 In a starred review, PW said, "More than fulfilling the promise of The Golden Compass, this second volume in the His Dark Materials trilogy starts off at a heart-thumping pace and never slows down." Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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