His Dark Material Trilogy by Philip Pullman

The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman is a YA fastasy series about a young girl and boy's journey to save the human race. Although it's marketed to a YA audience, the themes of the books are so adult that I can't help but wonder if they were better marketed for adults.

The series comprises of three books:
  1. The Northern Lights (published as The Golden Compass in America – I wonder why it was thought that American's couldn't cope with The Northern Lights?),
  2. The Subtle Knife, and
  3. The Amber Spyglass.
I have to admit that although I really enjoyed The Northern Lights (couldn't put it down in fact), the other books progressively lost my attention. Maybe it's because I read them all in a row, which I sometimes find isn't a sensible idea with series. Maybe it's because the religious themes were a little bit too much for my tastes. It could even be because I haven't read (and nor do I intend to) Milton's Lost Paradise, upon which The His Dark Materials trilogy is based. Most likely, it’s a combination of all of these things.

The plots of each of the books are far too complex for to summarise effectively for you here.
I will say though, that I can't understand why I haven't heard about any particular controversy caused by these books?

The ideas of God and religion that Pullman displays in His Dark Materials Trilogy are really quite subversive.

The books are very critical of organised religion and how the word of man, in the name of God, is used to rule man with an iron fist.

Perhaps even more controversially, the purpose behind most of the characters actions in these books is to destroy God and rid human kind of his rule. There is in fact an ultimate battle to destroy God's regent and God himself – both of which are portrayed as evil dictators, bringing misery to the people through oppression and tyranny and then tormenting them for eternity after death in the bowels of the earth.

Although I can’t say I enjoyed the entire series, I certainly admire Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy for the interesting philosophical and theological ideas, the fabulous fantasy elements and the unique characters (Ruta Skadi being my favourite) contained therein.

Northern Lights


6 / 8
Really enjoyable and well written. I would recommend it


The Subtle Knife


5.5 / 8
It needs to be read to follow on from the Northern Lights, but it doesn't contain the same level of excitment.


The Amber Spyglass


5 / 8
It has to be read to finish off the series, but although there were some interesting ideas, I felt as though the books were dragging by this point.

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