Oct 10, 2010

The Amber Spyglass

by Philip Pullman

I'm not sure I know how to talk about this book without giving stuff away; so if you haven't read it yet maybe you don't want to read this post.

Lyra and Will continue to follow their adventures through various worlds, pursued by various entities that either want to keep Lyra safe, use her skill with the symbol-reading instrument, or outright kill her to get rid of the threat she poses. But Lyra has her own plans and instead of heading straight for Lord Asriel's gathering to help his cause (and come under his protection), Lyra follows her own path, driven by guilt. She wants to find her friend Roger who died in the first book, and Will also wants to find his father, so together they make their way beyond the boundaries of all the worlds. This was my favorite part of the story. I loved how they dealt with the harpies, and that Lyra (such an admirable character, but nevertheless a deceitful lying child) finally found value in telling the truth. Later parts didn't thrill me as much- the battle was just a muddle and confusion for me- as battle scenes in reading often are, and even some parts I was looking forward to figuring out still puzzled me. I really liked seeing how Will and Lyra's relationship developed (although it was kinda odd to me how suddenly they were in love), and was glad that Mrs. Coulter met her end- that woman really disturbed me! Overall the book wasn't quite as good for me as the first two- it felt really long, and not as character-focused, but I still liked it a lot.

This is the one I couldn't read before. For probably the very reasons that make people want to ban the entire series- the idea of a controlling religion, battled against by the reasonable people in the world; it finally coalesces into an all-out war on heaven when one outrageously ambitious man plans to attack God himself and overthrow the rule of Heaven. Back ten or so years ago when I first approached The Amber Spyglass, I was still a very religious person and the idea -even in fiction- of God being just one presumptuous angel who set himself above all the others and made a bunch of rules to oppress people really bothered me. It made me quit. So in a way I can see why some find it uncomfortable, because I did myself once (but I still don't think the books should be banned).

However, none of that bothered me this time. I was wondering if it would, but my worldview is so different now and this time I just enjoyed it as a story. A different way of looking at things, and all in a different universe that doesn't exist anyways. In fact, I quite liked the ideas that were presented at the end, they fit more with my own current mindset now. But I was curious all the way through how Lyra would fulfill the prophecy- play the role of Eve, and how Mary Malone would be the snake. And whenever that moment happened, I didn't see it. Was the temptation that Lyra should leave more windows open? or stay with Will and one of them weaken? why didn't I see it? (someone please point it out to me I feels so dense).

And now perhaps I've said too much rambling on about it, but there you go!

Rating: 3/5 ........ 518 pages, 2000

More opinions at:
Hooser's Blook
Paperback Pirate
Jules Book Reviews
Keep the Wisdom


Jenny said...

I wish I'd read this more recently! I can't remember what happened with Lyra, so I definitely can't answer your question. :/

TheBlackSheep said...

It's also been a while since I've read this one. I'd have to go back to it before I could give you an answer. I do remember this one as the one I liked least though.

Jules said...

This was my least favourite book of the series. I loved the first one, enjoyed the second, and this one just fell apart for me. I just found it didn't fit well with the rest of the series. Complete let down for me. Thanks for the link back. :)

C.B. James said...

I can't answer your question, but I did end up liking the cosmology Pullman proposes in his third book. I love the idea of beign able to tell my life story to an interested listener once it's all done.

I believe I'll reread this series someday soon.