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Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip…
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Once Upon a Time in the North (2008)

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: His Dark Materials (prequel)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,145627,136 (3.83)51
Recently added bydrhapgood, private library, jies, mathsie
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  1. 20
    Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman (RosyLibrarian)
    RosyLibrarian: Both books are related to Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' series and reference many of its beloved characters.
  2. 10
    The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène Du Bois (kaledrina)
  3. 10
    The Creature in the Case by Garth Nix (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Alternate Earth fantasy novella featuring magic and non-human creatures.
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» See also 51 mentions

English (57)  German (2)  Swedish (1)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
This novella is set in the world of the His Dark Materials trilogy. It tells the story of how Lee Scoresby gets his balloon, comes from Texas to Europe, and joins up with the bear Iorek. It hints of much greater things to come, but itself is a relatively simple story about Scoresby helping a captain escape from the harbor where he has been trapped at the behest of an evil corporation in league with a mercenary politician and an assassin.

Worth reading if you've exhausted everything else, including Lyra's Oxford, which in some ways is better than this book. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
Nicely written, simple tale. If Lee Scoresby hadn't seen the assassin, however, he might not have been able to make up his mind what side to be on. ( )
  themulhern | Dec 21, 2013 |
For an audiobook I thought it was excellent.Like all audiobooks it detracts from a lot of detail that's provided when reading the story.

Philip Pullman stated in an interview when commenting on his recent 'GRIMM Tales for The Young and Old' that traditional folk-tale and fairytales have 'flat' characters - they're psychologically dimensionless and based on culturally based ideals and gender stereotypes. Like fairytales I found the female characters in 'Once Upon A Time in The North' flat and based on strong gender stereotypes.Although it's arguable whether this helped bring the characters to life and consequently contributed to a more plausible creation of Lyra's Oxford and HDM's Universe.

The book is written for young adults but can be equally enjoyed by an 'older' audience.


I would definitely buy a physical copy of this book and believe that more satisfaction is gained from this story when reading it from the book as opposed to an audiobook, some of the details in the story that are presented chronologically in the book are ommited and added at the end of the story in the audiobook version.

Overall, it is definitely worth listening/reading, as it does contribute to undersatnding HDM world.
For readers that aren't familiar with HDM , I would still recommend it as supplementary reading s but it would be preferable if the trilogy was read prior to this.

For those that haven't read HDM's I would still reccomend it, it's story-telling at it's finest.( ( )
  Alexandra.Moraiti | Jul 14, 2013 |
A gorgeous little book. Adult in places. Daemons, bears and aeronauts from Texas. A lovely interlude of a book, only 112 small pages, and beautiful woodcut illustrations. ( )
  devilish2 | Jun 22, 2013 |
the story of how Lee Scoresby, his rifle and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison came together. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Pullmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lawrence, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stensen, DanielleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
The battered cargo balloon came in out of a rainstorm over the White Sea, losing height rapidly and swaying in the strong north-west wind as the pilot trimmed the vanes and tried to adjust the gas-valve.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Lyra Silvertongue's
tale: cowboy meets polar bear
a long time ago.
(ed.pendragon)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375845100, Hardcover)

In this new prequel episode from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials universe, Lee Scoresby--Texan aeronaut and future friend to Lyra Belacqua--is just 24 years old, and he's recently won his hot-air balloon in a poker game. He finds himself floating North to the windswept Arctic island of Novy Odense, where he and his hare daemon Hester are quickly tangled in a deadly plot involving oil magnate Larsen Manganese, corrupt mayoral candidate Ivan Poliakov, and Lee's longtime nemesis from the Dakota Country: Pierre McConville, a hired killer with at least twenty murders to his name.

It's only after Lee forms an alliance with one of the island's reviled armored bears that he can fight to break up the conspiracy in a gun-twirling classic western shoot out--and battle of wits. This exquisite clothbound volume features the illustrations of John Lawrence, a removable board game—Peril of the Pole—on the inside back cover, and a glimpse for Pullman fans into the first friendship of two of the most beloved characters in the His Dark Materials trilogy: Lee Scoresby and armored bear Iorek Byrnison.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In a time before Lyra Silvertongue was born, the tough American balloonist Lee Scoresby and the great armoured bear Iorek Byrnison meet when Lee and his hare daemon Hester crash-land their trading balloon onto a port in the far Arctic North and find themselves right in the middle of a political powder keg.… (more)

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