It’s time for another book review! I’m so glad I got this trilogy for Christmas cause I couldn’t put this book down once I started it.
I have been exposed to different versions of the story based off of the first book such as the film by New Line Cinema and then HBO’s series. Those two sources used events from this book differently.
So, let’s get started shall we? I’m super excited to share my thoughts!
A little backstory, this is a story that takes place in a parallel world to our own where our souls walk beside us as sentient animals called daemons. Explorer and scholar Lord Asriel wishes to learn more about a mysterious particle called Dust which the Church (later revealed to be called the Magisterium) is afraid of. He also seeks to learn the existence of other worlds.
In the center of it all is his niece/daughter Lyra and her curiosity. We get a whole chapter about her life growing up at Jordan College early on in the book. But as I have stated in my episode reviews, he’s a jerk at the beginning of the book, but I did get my answer as to why he acted so distraught upon Lyra’s arrival at the end.
After being left behind by Asriel, Lyra meets Mrs. Coulter, and in these books she’s actually a lot calmer and acts very motherly. Her monkey daemon has golden fur too and Lyra grows suspicious when Roger vanishes as do other children from “Gobblers”, she then flees the party at Mrs. Coulter’s penthouse upon learning the latter’s relation to the missing children.
This book is told entirely from Lyra’s point of view in a third person perspective, so we don’t really get to explore other characters in this book. Many things played out in ways I was already familiar with, but just with more background.
The intercision process is hinted throughout several chapters and before it, there’s a lot more growth in the relationship between Lyra and Iorek Byrnison which I like. He even gets her to try and hit him with a stick in order to prove to her that you cannot trick a bear and their bond grows closer with that.
I imagined Bolvangar to be a lot of a darker place in the book where there was that nurse with her severed daemon trotting about. The cutting just turns them into nothing more than a mere pet to a person and Mrs. Coulter talks about how great that is leaving Lyra disgusted. I still remember before that the blonde girl Bridget, was about to reveal to the others what really happens to the children, until she was interrupted by being called in next for the operation. Lyra and the other children go to play games in some kind of gym afterwards, but she can’t help but wonder where Bridget went.
I could picture the actual guillotine so immensely, but my favourite part of this book was the fight between Iorek and the false king Iofur Rakinson. The book describes it as a much more brutal fight where they were both in armor and Lyra had to resist intervening. It was just a very well-written chapter, and I think when it comes to the adaptations, the film got it more accurately. I also loved how there were more bears in general at Svalberd too.
Then again, a lot of parts in this book were well-written that made me picture the events during each chapter very vividly, including Lyra’s discovery of the severed daemons that Serafina’s daemon helps her rescue. Another well-written part is how Lyra learns how to use the alethiometer. There’s a chapter that suggests what some of the symbols mean and that some have more than one meaning, which is how you can shape your question and how your answer is formed.
Fun fact, in this book, it was not Billy Costa that Lyra found in the fishing shack but a boy named Tony Makarios who had the daemon Ratter.
Towards the end, I began to realize the complexity behind everything: Asriel’s work and why Mrs. Coulter’s organization is so fixated on Dust not affecting children. There’s a whole religious aspect behind it, and Asriel was distraught upon seeing Lyra because he needed a child and their daemon to continue his work with finding other worlds, and that was to be anyone but her. Therefore he used Roger to do so which involved sacrificing him in the process.
The way some things in this book were written were quite vague such as how Roger died, but I’m sure Lyra no longer considers Asriel to be her father after that. Now, we can only hope to see where she is led when she begins to cross the bridge between worlds.
I’m so glad I finally picked up this trilogy.