It’s been more than twenty years since the publication of the award winning novel The Northern Lights, but Philip Pullman has finally revealed The Book of Dust, his much-anticipated and ‘sort of sequel’ to the incredibly successful His Dark Materials trilogy.
The Book of Dust
The series, which will see the return of Pullman’s most enigmatic heroine Lyra Belacqua, will be the next instalment to Lyra’s adventures, and will explore two episodes in her life. The first volume will look at Lyra’s childhood, before she came to live at Jordan College, whilst the final volume is set a few years after the events of His Dark Materials. The new series also promises to finally solve the mystery surrounding “Dust” (the strange element that only seems to “settle” in adulthood, and is believed by The Magisterium to be the root of all sin).
For anyone who hasn’t read the #Books, Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials is an incredibly suspenseful dark-fantasy series, that has gone on to inspire a hugely successful film, The Golden Compass, 2007, as well as a series of short novels by Pullman (Lyra’s Oxford, published in 2003, and Once Upon a Time in the North, published in 2008 respectively).
His Dark Materials
Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials is a triumph of epic proportions. It is soaring achievement in the realm of imagination, in which marvels and monsters, adventures and misadventures are told in spectacular fashion. Like the most grand and finest dream, Northern Lights takes you on a magical ride through uncharted territories and parallel universes, where you’ll not only find some of the most magnificent creatures ever created in English Literature - sea-faring warrior gypsies and animal daemons (beings that reflect the inner-souls of their human counterparts) – but some of the best villains ever conceived by pen on paper (The Magisterium). The Magisterium is a powerful organisation that governs the magical world, and is run by Mrs Coulter - a sinister woman whose only mission is to separate children from their daemons and destroy “dust”.
The plot follows Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon, as they journey to the strange universe of Bolvanger, in the North, to rescue their friend Roger. But, when evidence of mysterious child abductions by criminals known as “Gobblers”, seem to point further and further towards the Magisterium, fate falls to Lyra and her daemon to not only save the day, but solve the mystery of “dust”.
Pullman is a master at blending dreamy characterisation and effortless plotting, to create a jaw-dropping fantasy that touches upon real human experience. Pullman is an incredibly imaginative writer who is able to transform simple themes and sit them beside more serious concepts (like religion and politics) which, come to think of it, reflects a lot of what is happening in the current political environment – with Donald Trump in the White House and Brexit on the horizon, you can begin to see how truly evocative a story like Northern lights is, given that the plot centres on a magical war between ‘good’ an ‘evil’ and the fight for freedom in an oppressive world.
However, despite being a huge success overall, the series did inspire some criticism for its representation of a Godless world, which some people viewed as an assault on organised religion. But this alone shouldn’t detract from the overall appeal of the franchise, which has inspired deep admiration for the author across the globe.
When can we expect to read the new series?
While we will all have to wait until October 2017 to read the first volume, this should at least give fans of the original series plenty of time to fall back in love with the franchise, and allow new readers the chance to discover the magic of Pullman’s writing. I, for one, cannot wait to start re-reading the series! #PhilipPullman #Fiction