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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)

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English (219)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  German (1)  All languages (225)
Showing 1-5 of 219 (next | show all)
Even better than the first book! Pullman is a master at pacing and knowing just how much detail to include, allowing the reader to fill in the rest with just slight subconscious tweaks of the imagination. I picked up Book Three at the library this weekend and will be diving in this evening. ( )
  S.D. | Apr 4, 2014 |
In this sequel to "The Golden Compass", Lyra finds herself in an alternate world and meets Will, a boy from our own world who is trying to escape the men who will stop at nothing to silence him. Lyra and Will embark on an adventure in search of the Subtle Knife, an instrument that can create doorways between worlds and may be the key to altering the course of all the worlds. "The Subtle Knife" is another brilliant story from Pullman that goes even deeper into the question of free will and the power of the Church over the lives and moralities of human beings. ( )
  TheMadHatters | Apr 2, 2014 |
Second in the "His Dark Materials" trilogy (and I still don't know whose dark materials they are, or why they're so dark. You can turn on the lights if you want), and the first where I don't have the help of a movie. The story is interesting, but it suffers from the trappings of the second part of a trilogy - all set up for the ending, resting on the laurels of an exciting beginning.

Also, it starts to become heady and scientific, talking about dark matter and molecules, getting my science-fiction in my fantasy. It tries to be epic and melodramatic by telling you "oh my god, this shit just got real". Some people can do it well, but I don't think you can have metaphysics and talking animals in the same book (and not have the metaphysics explaining the talking animals), unless you dedicate your science to explaining everything in your fantasy. Michael Crichton did that with time travel in "Timeline", but it took a third of the book to do it. Still, I will be reading the last book. ( )
  theWallflower | Feb 24, 2014 |
After loving the first book in this series, I was disappointed in this one. I loved Lyra's world, but didn't enjoy the shifts between it and Will's world. Actually, I didn't enjoy Will's world at all. Though I love magical realism, I felt that high fantasy and the real world just didn't mix well here. And I found Will himself to be a boring hero--kind of whiny and an all-around dud. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
The series steadily degraded as Pullman continued writing. ( )
  Zabeth | Dec 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 219 (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
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Will tugged at his mother's hand and said, "Come on, come on..."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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AR 6.2, Pts 16.0
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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)

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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.

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