Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife (1997)

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: His Dark Materials (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
16,966241104 (4.08)322
  1. 73
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Leishai)
    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
  2. 21
    The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers (Leishai)
  3. 21
    Wizard and Glass by Stephen King (levasssp)
    levasssp: or any of the Dark Tower series...similarities include an ability to travel between different, but closely related, worlds through portals or doors. Additionally, there are themes of religion, good/bad and questions about "essence" that are similar in both series.… (more)
  4. 11
    Lycidas by Christoph Marzi (Leishai)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 322 mentions

English (233)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (240)
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
The Subtle Knife is just like its predecessor, it contains an amazing story, world, and characters. The reader will find it difficult to put this book down once they get started. The book leaves off where the first one ended, and draws the reader into another amazing story. The characters are again plentiful, and the reader will also be introduce into new characters. This time around, The Subtle Knife contains many twist and turns in the story that the reader will be engrossed in this fantastic story. ( )
  Remy_Ferrell | Nov 24, 2014 |
I liked it more than the first book even though there was a distinct lack of armored bears. ( )
  PaulDW | Oct 14, 2014 |
better than the first book in character development and storytelling, but not quite as imaginative and captivating and awesome as the first. I also feel that Pullman loves Will more than Lyra. ( )
  CassandraT | Oct 10, 2014 |
Darker than the Northern Lights, the Subtle Knife transports most of the action from Lyra's world (Compass) into Will's world (Tree) and the Spectre world (Knife). Violence abound, with Coulter snapping a witch's finger, the Lord-of-the-Flies children in Cittàgazze trying to stone a cat and have an old-fashioned pitchfork and fire angry-mob, Will - after killing a man - gaining the "mark of the bearer of the Subtle Knife", i.e., having two fingers chopped off!?, Lee's one-man thirty-bullets stand-off against twenty-five men, and more! Not violence, but while I have the spoiler on, what was with the basically-explicit seduction of Boreal by Coulter near the end and her monkey caressing his serpent!? Yes, I'm not even speaking euphemistically, that is exactly what happened! (half star off) This made for an unsettling read, since it is so much easier to disassociate yourself from death or violence in a book set in a fantasy world - e.g., the Iorek-Iofur face-off literally for Iofur - especially when you don't have any view other than that of Lyra who is always on the side of "good". Yes, there was also Roger's death in the first book but Lyra never really had more than a passing thought about that in the second book.

Speaking of Lyra and how Northern Lights was mostly from her point of view, Subtle Knife distorts - rightly/wrongly? - her characterisation by having her clueless in the Tree and helpless in the Knife world. Then along comes Will and there is an immediate contrast between him and Lyra, from the real (to us) world and fantasy (to us) world - it sets up the idea, whether intentionally or not, that Will is living in the real world whereas Lyra was just playing make-believe? - and it cannot help but make Will and Lyra seem mature and immature respectively. (one star off)

Fantastical elements still abound in all the worlds now that the gateways between them are opened. There are new mysteries (Spectres, the Cave, Will's father, angels, etc). Other than Lyra and Pan, the witches, Lee, and, very minorly, Coulter and Asriel, most of the characters in Subtle Knife are either new or more developed minor characters of Northern Lights. Pan is still great, as is Mary Malone, nun-turned-physicist-turned-espionage-agent, who did something so complicated that three-halves somehow equalled a whole which Pullman acknowledged (half star on). ( )
  kitzyl | Sep 27, 2014 |
I remembered The Subtle Knife being my favourite book of the trilogy but from this feminist future I am not sold any more. Curiosity is supposed to be good but they still call discovery the fall. Also, why do the children have this absolute blank regarding romance? It sort of assumes that it is a type of love separate from all others, Will clearly loves his mother dearly, of course, since he is not psychotic this would not lead him to killing her if she didn't love him back but that's got nothing to do with innocence. Lyra is also capable of strong emotional bonds, as evidenced by her relationships with almost everybody she meets as allies, why is she portrayed as finding her own parents' romance so strange and the witches' sex lives unimaginable?

I'm not sure I want to read book 3 again, because one thing that remains true is that His Dark Materials make me cry and the ending of book 3 was so unsatisfying on both an intellectual and emotional level... So tragic and so senseless... ( )
  Evalangui | Aug 22, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
J. R. R. Tolkien, the granddaddy of modern high fantasy, asserted that the best fantasy writing is marked by ''arresting strangeness.'' Philip Pullman measures up; his work is devilishly inventive. His worlds teem with angels, witches, humans, animal familiars, talking bears and Specters, creatures resembling deadly airborne jellyfish... Put Philip Pullman on the shelf with Ursula K. Le Guin, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, at least until we get to see Volume 3.

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip Pullmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peterson, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tutino, AlfredoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Will tugged at his mother's hand and said, "Come on, come on..."
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
AR 6.2, Pts 16.0
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0440238145, Mass Market Paperback)

With The Golden Compass Philip Pullman garnered every accolade under the sun. Critics lobbed around such superlatives as "elegant," "awe-inspiring," "grand," and "glittering," and used "magnificent" with gay abandon. Each reader had a favorite chapter--or, more likely, several--from the opening tour de force to Lyra's close call at Bolvangar to the great armored-bear battle. And Pullman was no less profligate when it came to intellectual firepower or singular characters. The dæmons alone grant him a place in world literature. Could the second installment of his trilogy keep up this pitch, or had his heroine and her too, too sullied parents consumed him? And what of the belief system that pervaded his alternate universe, not to mention the mystery of Dust? More revelations and an equal number of wonders and new players were definitely in order.

The Subtle Knife offers everything we could have wished for, and more. For a start, there's a young hero--from our world--who is a match for Lyra Silvertongue and whose destiny is every bit as shattering. Like Lyra, Will Parry has spent his childhood playing games. Unlike hers, though, his have been deadly serious. This 12-year-old long ago learned the art of invisibility: if he could erase himself, no one would discover his mother's increasing instability and separate them.

As the novel opens, Will's enemies will do anything for information about his missing father, a soldier and Arctic explorer who has been very much airbrushed from the official picture. Now Will must get his mother into safe seclusion and make his way toward Oxford, which may hold the key to John Parry's disappearance. But en route and on the lam from both the police and his family's tormentors, he comes upon a cat with more than a mouse on her mind: "She reached out a paw to pat something in the air in front of her, something quite invisible to Will." What seems to him a patch of everyday Oxford conceals far more: "The cat stepped forward and vanished." Will, too, scrambles through and into another oddly deserted landscape--one in which children rule and adults (and felines) are very much at risk. Here in this deathly silent city by the sea, he will soon have a dustup with a fierce, flinty little girl: "Her expression was a mixture of the very young--when she first tasted the cola--and a kind of deep, sad wariness." Soon Will and Lyra (and, of course, her dæmon, Pantalaimon) uneasily embark on a great adventure and head into greater tragedy.

As Pullman moves between his young warriors and the witch Serafina Pekkala, the magnetic, ever-manipulative Mrs. Coulter, and Lee Scoresby and his hare dæmon, Hester, there are clear signs of approaching war and earthly chaos. There are new faces as well. The author introduces Oxford dark-matter researcher Mary Malone; the Latvian witch queen Ruta Skadi, who "had trafficked with spirits, and it showed"; Stanislaus Grumman, a shaman in search of a weapon crucial to the cause of Lord Asriel, Lyra's father; and a serpentine old man whom Lyra and Pan can't quite place. Also on hand are the Specters, beings that make cliff-ghasts look like rank amateurs.

Throughout, Pullman is in absolute control of his several worlds, his plot and pace equal to his inspiration. Any number of astonishing scenes--small- and large-scale--will have readers on edge, and many are cause for tears. "You think things have to be possible," Will demands. "Things have to be true!" It is Philip Pullman's gift to turn what quotidian minds would term the impossible into a reality that is both heartbreaking and beautiful. --Kerry Fried

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:34:48 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

As the boundaries between worlds begin to dissolve, Lyra and her daemon help Will Parry in his search for his father and for a powerful, magical knife.

» see all 20 descriptions

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (4.08)
0.5 4
1 45
1.5 13
2 184
2.5 57
3 747
3.5 260
4 1776
4.5 270
5 1764


Six editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 94,035,867 books! | Top bar: Always visible