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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)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
17,43824799 (4.07)328
  1. 73
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Leishai)
    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
  2. 41
    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)
  3. 21
    The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers (Leishai)
  4. 11
    Lycidas by Christoph Marzi (Leishai)

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» See also 328 mentions

English (239)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (246)
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
The second book of the series drifts away from YA and has a much more darker and complex theme. The parallel worlds are done very well without being overly burdensome. The story moves very fluidly and the religious theme starts to shine out. It is clear on what Philip Pullman is trying to convey without distracting from the story. The main characters are very strong and interesting. The ending is great and makes me excited to finish the trilogy as soon as possible. ( )
  renbedell | Nov 3, 2015 |
So, from glancing at reviews of this book around the internet, I gathered that it was the least favourite of the series. Strange... as I enjoyed it more than the first one (and I loved the first one). In this book, we're introduced to a new character, Will, right away. I'll admit this bewildered me for a moment. The Golden Compass was so focused on Lyra that I wasn't really expecting there to be much in the way of point of view changes in future novels. Thankfully, I was wrong. I love Lyra, but, she's a little much and having three books strictly in her POV would have probably been too much for me to handle.
Now, ok, it was weird that the one thing that made the first book brilliant (daemons. obviously.) was kind of taken away from us in this book. I guess that could be one of the downsides of this book. Also, not really much of anything ever happened... Yet, I was more interested than during that long bout in the North in The Golden Compass.
The book starts out with Will, as I said, yet he lives in a world without demons (basically, just think our modern world and bingo! you've got it!). He meets Lyra when he crosses over into another world (again, a world without daemons. unfortunately) and Lyra's alethiometer tells her to assist him. So. Cool. See, from there, we get a lot of little plot instead of big plot. Like, Lord Ariel is in the background during the whole book preparing to wage war on the Authority, but we never see him. Mrs. Coulter makes a few appearances, but we never really see much of her, either. So, that was kind of strange. Because this book mainly focuses on the happenings in Cittágazze and the the Spectres (beings not unlike Dementors from Harry Potter, except they leave people completely immobile.) and a knife that can fight them off and cut through the worlds.
And that's basically the plot of the book. As I said, little plot, like, it was kind of obvious that the only purpose of this book was to set up whatever is going to happen in the last (which, yes is kind of the point of the middle book of a trilogy, however usually they have some element that allows them to stand on their own, whereas this did not).
So, I think what made me enjoy this one more was not the plot, but the fact that we saw more characters. We got chapters in Will's point of view, and Serefina Pekkala, and Lee Scoresby. This book had more diversity in its characters and I think that's what made me love it more. The plot was thin, but it was there enough to keep me going and make me reeeeallly want to read the third book. So, basically it did its job. It was the characters that made me really love this book on its own. I love Lyra, but my issue with The Golden Compass was that it felt so focused on Lyra that I really didn't get a sense of any of the characters, and in this book I was given the other characters that I wanted to know more about. ( )
  glitzandshadows | Oct 12, 2015 |
There's a special kind of young adult book that can be thoroughly enjoyed by old adults. The first in this series was that kind of book, the second, not so much.

It's a neat story with an original concept, but my brain was craving for a little more subtlety in the writing (no pun intended).

If you happily read young adult fiction, this is a great book. If you like your young adult stories a little more grown up, perhaps just get a book for your age, which is what I'll be doing henceforth forthwith. PDQ. QED.

Right. ( )
  liso | Sep 18, 2015 |
All promises of the 1st book are ruined in the 2nd. The author have fallen for same flaws he thought of being fighting. ( )
  Arseny | Jun 24, 2015 |
Not a review:
I just found out that these books caused some kind of stir in religious people. Something about anti-Christianity. I wanted to find a quote about this particular book and, instead, I found some ridiculous page speaking of brainwashing. That made me feel disgusted.

I wonder if they even realize the meaning of fantasy. I mean, there is so much media around that is based in things that other cultures might regard as important, or deserving a greater respect than the one given in the stories that use them. Most of the times it doesn't become this sort of witch hunt. Sigh. I don't know if I am making any sense here. I just think that fantasy is supposed to make you question reality or view it in a different angle. Which is actually good. Sort of the opposite of brainwashing or following sheep-like.


( )
  aka_no_joou | May 19, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 239 (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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First words
Will tugged at his mother's hand and said, "Come on, come on..." But his mother hung back.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:31 -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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