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The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) Paperback – June 4, 2019
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Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of His Dark Materials--now an HBO original series starring Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, and Lin-Manuel Miranda--to expand on the story of Lyra, “one of fantasy’s most indelible heroines” (The New York Times Magazine).
Don’t miss Volume II of The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth!
Malcolm Polstead and his daemon, Asta, are used to overhearing news and the occasional scandal at the inn run by his family. But during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm finds a mysterious object—and finds himself in grave danger.
Inside the object is a cryptic message about something called Dust; and it’s not long before Malcolm is approached by the spy for whom this message was actually intended. When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he begins to notice suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.
Lyra is at the center of a storm, and Malcolm will brave any peril, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through it.
“Too few things in our world are worth a seventeen-year wait: The Book of Dust is one of them.” —The Washington Post
“The book is full of wonder. . . . Truly thrilling.” —The New York Times
“People will love the first volume of Philip Pullman’s new trilogy with the same helpless vehemence that stole over them when The Golden Compass came out.” —Slate
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About The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage
|His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (Book 1)||His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife (Book 2)||His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass (Book 3)||The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Volume 1)||The Book of Dust: The Secret Commonwealth (Volume 2)|
|Enter the world of His Dark Materials||The modern fantasy classic soon to be an HBO original series – HIS DARK MATERIALS!||The second book in the HIS DARK MATERIALS series – soon to be an HBO original series!||The third book in the HIS DARK MATERIALS series – soon to be an HBO original series!||Set in the same world as HIS DARK MATERIALS - meet Lyra before the events of The Golden Compass!||Set in the same world as HIS DARK MATERIALS - discover what happened to Lyra after The Amber Spyglass!|
"It's a stunning achievement, the universe Pullman has created and continues to build on." —The New York Times
"A phantasmagoric waterborne odyssey. Mr. Pullman is a supple and formidable writer." —The Wall Street Journal
"Enthralling, enchanting. The first half reads like a thriller. The story becomes darker, deeper and even more engrossing when a cataclysmic flood overtakes Southern England. Too few things in our world are worth a seventeen year wait: The Book of Dust is one of them." — The Washington Post
"Pullman's writing is as deftly brilliant as ever. A triumphant return to the alternate Oxford we love."—Bustle
"The Book of Dust passes by in one tumultuous wave of literature, that leaves you queasy, but wanting the next volume as quickly as possible. It deserves not only a reread, but an unpacking. It is not a one and done novel, something that, in a time where binging and passing is the status quo. This is a novel to digest. One to take in, let settle, and then revisit. We are lucky to have Pullman's words. Words that will continue to nourish the souls and imaginations of readers for a long, long time." —Hypable
"Once again, Pullman’s fantasy arrives precisely when it can teach us the most about ourselves, as if it were guided by Dust itself." —Entertainment Weekly
"High-octane adventure accompanies ingenious plotting." —The Times (London)
"Lyra Silvertongue, Lyra Belacqua, but really just Lyra: one of those characters—Pip, Emma, Lolita—who is on first-name terms with her public."—The New York Times Magazine
"Pullman's imagery is as dazzling as ever. La Belle Sauvage reveals the incredible ways in which 'ordinary' children can react whenplaced in extraordinary circumstances: with kindness, bravery and cunning." —The Bookseller
"A rollicking adventure. Delightful." —Mother Jones
"A stunning, otherworldly journey. La Belle Sauvage dives deeply into magic and intrigue. What a gift it is to be allowed back into this universe." —BuzzFeed
"Full of acute observation. A rich, imaginative, vividly characterized rite-of-passage tale." —London Sunday Times
"Thrilling and thought-provoking." —Times Literary Supplement
"A singularly beguiling work of fantasy. [Pullman is] perhaps the best fantasy writer alive." —The A.V. Club
"A profoundly compelling foundation for a new trilogy." —Vox
"This tense, adventure-packed book will satisfy and delight Pullman's fans and leave them eager to see what's yet to come" —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Pullman is an easeful storyteller and an intricate and inventive world-builder, and everything he has to write is worth reading." —The Telegraph
"Magisterial storytelling will sweep readers along; the cast is as vividly drawn as ever; and big themes running beneath the surface invite profound responses and reflection." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Luminous prose, heady philosophical questions, and a lovable protagonist combine with a gripping plot sure to enchant fans and newcomers alike." —SLJ, starred review
"Pullman demonstrates that his talent for world building hasn’t diminished, nor has his ability to draw young characters—here, Malcolm, who is layered enough to carry an adventure through multiple dimensions." —Booklist, starred review
"Pullman's immense powers of kinesthetic visualization keep the story pulsing on an epic scale."—The Guardian
"An immersive, creepy, edge-of-your seat adventure." —Shelf Awareness
"To connect once more with a fictional universe of such great power is a delight." —Financial Times
About the Author
The Book of Dust, Pullman’s eagerly anticipated return to the world of His Dark Materials, will also be a book in three parts. It began with La Belle Sauvage and continues with The Secret Commonwealth.
Philip Pullman is the author of many other beloved novels. For younger readers: I Was a Rat!, Count Karlstein, Two Crafty Criminals!, Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. For older readers: the Sally Lockhart quartet (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess), The White Mercedes, and The Broken Bridge. He has written a magnificent collection, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and his essays and lectures on writing and storytelling have been gathered in a volume called Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling.
Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England.
- Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 4, 2019)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0553510746
- ISBN-13 : 978-0553510744
- Reading age : 14 - 17 years
- Lexile measure : HL770L
- Grade level : 9 - 12
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.98 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #26,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Here’s an example of what makes Philip Pullman’s writing so special. It’s early in the first volume of his new fantasy trilogy, The Book of Dust. Malcolm, eleven years old and the son of an innkeeper, is the protagonist. He’s rock solid, good and decent, and observant beyond his years. As in the previous trilogy, His Dark Materials, Malcolm, like everybody in this imagined world, has his own daemon, an opposite sex animal familiar tied to him both geographically (if the familiar moves away from her master, the master must follow) and psychically. The choice of animal for one’s daemon tells something about one’s character. Later in the book, the evil Gerard Bonneville is revealed as having a hyena as his daemon, and unlike the closeness that exists between other masters and their daemons, Bonneville abuses his.
Now to the example I promised. Malcolm has just been permitted to see the little baby, six-months-old Lyra, who is being cared for in a nunnery near his father’s inn. Read on.
"Malcolm had never seen a baby at close quarters, and he was struck at once by how real she seemed. He knew that would be a silly thing to say, so he held his tongue, but that was his impression all the same: it was unexpected that something so small should be so perfectly formed. … Her daemon, the chick of a small bird like a swallow, was asleep with her, but as soon as Asta [Malcolm’s familiar] flew down, swallow-shaped too, and perched on the edge of the crib, the chick woke up and opened his yellow beak wide for food. Malcolm laughed, and that woke the baby, and seeing his laughing face, she began to laugh too. Asta pretended to snap at a small insect and thrust it down the baby daemon’s gaping mouth, which satisfied him, making Malcolm laugh harder, and then the baby laughed so hard she got the hiccups, and every time she hicked, the daemon jumped.
“ 'There, there,' said Sister Fenella, and bent to pick her up; but as she lifted the baby, Lyra’s little face crumpled into an expression of grief and terror, and she reached round for her daemon, nearly twisting herself out of the nun’s arms. Astra was ahead of her: she took the little chick in her mouth and flew to place him on the baby’s chest, at which point he turned into a miniature tiger cub and hissed and bared his teeth at everyone. All the baby’s dismay vanished at once, and she lay in Sister Fenella’s arms, looking around with a lordly complacency.
Malcolm was enchanted. Everything about her was perfect and delighted him."
That’s magical: simply presented but with an aura of wonder to it. And even as the scene is being set –a young boy seeing a baby for the first time—magic (the daemons) intrudes on the scene. You have also a sense of what Malcolm is like and a vague premonition that Lyra’s and Malcolm’s relationship will be important to the rest of the book, probably –possibly? —across the remaining books of this trilogy as well.
La Belle Sauvage (the name of Malcolm’s most treasured possession, a canoe) inhabits the same world of magic-physics as the preceding trilogy –sub-atomic dust leaking in through cracks of the world, scientists’ exploitation of the uncertainty principle, a weird but believable instrument that lies half way between astrology and physics and is called the alethiometer, which measures truth but uncertainly. The events of this series take place earlier than the happenings of the previous series but the enemy is the same: a devouring church hierarchy cracks down on heresy, cowing young and old as efficiently as ever did Torquemada. (“How can knowing something be sinful?” Malcolm asks one time.)
The first trilogy, His Dark Materials, came close to saving my sanity. It came out when I was leaving for Dubai to take a job twelve time zones away from my family. I was lonely! I needed something all-consuming to read to take my mind off my isolation. I finished the first installment on the plane ride over (twenty-one hours, seventeen on the plane); the second, soon after I arrived; and the third, as soon as it came out --in England, not the United States –it came out there earlier. Like those books, La Belle Sauvage offers small (turns of phrase, particular descriptions of places or people) and large (scary, powerful bad guys, and good guys with interesting characters and pasts; a large-scale, almost cosmic fight for noble goals) pleasures. It will keep the reader reading from start to end with no stop.
I think my seesawing feelings about LA BELLE SAUVAGE come from the fact that the first half of the book was stronger than the second half. Watching Malcolm become an amateur spy was both fun and suspenseful, since every minute I was worried whether he'd be found out. It was also gripping to see how the Magisterium operated in the years before Lyra's adventures began, including how they persuaded young children to report alleged acts of heresy. The tension was mounting, and the mysteries surrounding Dust, the Rusakov field, and the world's strange interest in baby Lyra grew more interconnected and layered - and then the flood happened.
Actually, the early flood chapters were still thrilling, since Malcolm, his acquaintance Alice, baby Lyra, and their daemons were constantly in danger. But after a while, the plot began to feel episodic, as if Pullman was throwing an obstacle per chapter at the youngsters. So even though a lot is happening, it doesn't feel like the plot is building to a clear climax. And when the climax does come, it's messy and rushed. A few plot threads are left hanging, too, and we never learn the fates of certain characters. Given that Book #2 of the Book of Dust Trilogy will take place about 20 years in the future, with Lyra as the main character, I'm not sure we'll learn all the answers - and if we do, I have a feeling I'll be angry about having to wait that long to find out.
So... yeah. I wanted to love LA BELLE SAUVAGE. I probably would have if the ending had been better crafted and more satisfying closure-wise. Here's hoping that Book #2 won't suffer from the same pitfalls.
Top reviews from other countries
The answer for this book at least is somewhere in between. The hero is Malcolm, a boy working at his parents' inn and helping out with oddjobs at the local nunnery. Malcolm is a nice, unassuming lad who makes a good central character as he is immediately sympathetic. He reminds me of Will, the hero in the 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. Some of the characters from the main series appear here, including Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter, although not in major roles. Lyra, the star of the original novels, has plenty of page time but is only a small baby so doesn't get to shine in her own right.
The novel is exciting and bowls along at a good pace. The problem is that, as with any prequel, you know where it is heading. That takes away some of the tension because you know things have to turn out in a certain way. To really succeed, these books would need to find some sort of compelling subplot that doesn't have an immediate link-through the original series and thus hasn't already been spoiled for readers. There isn't that here. However, it is only the first book of three and it's quite possible the story will build and improve throughout the series, which was the case in the original as well.
It's certainly a good fantasy adventure and one you'll enjoy reading if you like this genre. It isn't outstanding and it isn't in the same league as the original set of books - but there is potential. I'll certainly want to read the next ones.
And what was that really stupid fairy all about?
Shoddy, in a word.
While a separate and enjoyable story in its own right, several of the themes and characters have a lot more meaning if you have read the original trilogy, which I think will be more important as the series progresses (with the next books taking place after His Dark Materials, while this takes place before). That said, even a fairly rudimentary memory of the original story will more than suffice to equip readers for La Belle Sauvage, as we are thrown into the midst a catastrophic flood that seems set to alter the course of history in this alternate version of Britain.
The plot of the book itself is simple enough, but a lot of Pullman's strength lies in his character work and careful implementation of deeper themes and ideas into his stories. I believe the latter is lacking here, perhaps intentionally so as (much like Northern Lights) this is the first book in a trilogy and so serves more to simply introduce us to the major characters involved. In this, it does very well as grow gradually more attached to protaganists Malcolm and Alice as they experience numerous trials and develop as characters. I personally can't wait to read more about them, and how they tie into Lyra's world.
The scope of the book may be less ambitious than fans of the series were hoping for, but I'm glad Pullman chose to start the new trilogy on a small scale so readers could really get to know the new characters before the next books start tackle more complex themes. I loved it and cannot wait to read to more.