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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
16,810237105 (4.08)320
  1. 73
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Leishai)
    Leishai: Also a story about fantasy with another world
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    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)

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» See also 320 mentions

English (229)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (236)
Showing 1-5 of 229 (next | show all)
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 |
Read my full review here.

In this installation of the series, Pullman takes us jumping from world to world, and this introduces new and exciting things. For example, we meet Dr. Mary Malone, a character who is dedicated to learning about Shadows - otherwise known as Dust. Also, Will is introduced. The book begins by following him and we get to see how traumatic his life has been. He has been caring for a mother that seems mentally unstable. He seems like a tormented person yet he’s cold when he meets Lyra. To him, she seems immature. Yet to the two children bond based on what they go through together. They become each other’s support, in a way.

The narration of this novel follows a different character in each chapter. This gives readers a better sense of past and new characters. My favourite chapters to read are those that follow Lee Scoresby and, of course, Lyra and Pan. Those characters are extremely complex and well-written. Scoresby and Lyra have a special bond and that is more apparent in this installation. In this sense, I feel that Scoresby is a central character to Lyra. Lyra is, of course, still amazing. She may come across as immature at times but she can be extremely mature.

Of course, there is a fair share of drama and tragedy within the novel. For instance, Lee Scoresby is killed. Now, this made me angry because Pullman just set him up as an important character, and then killed him off. I can’t see how this particular event will benefit the overall plot of the book series, so for now it doesn't sit right with me.

Overall, The Subtle Knife>/i> was well-written. This novel was so easy to slip into. I kept wanting to read more chapters which is something a book should always make me feel. ( )
  CaitlinAC | Aug 10, 2014 |
Gets pretty intense compared to the first book, and definitely more mature. As a child I loved it, and of course didn't pick up on all the "anti-Christian propaganda" that most readers comment on. For me, it was just a continuation of a fascinating story. ( )
  Tigerlily12 | Jul 9, 2014 |
I listened to the audio for this and I have to say it was a great production. ( )
  Glennis.LeBlanc | Jul 8, 2014 |
With the introduction of Will as a main character alongside Lyra, all the charm that might have been left over from the first book of this series vanishes like so much Dust. Lyra is made to seem much more petulant and immature beside him; what is supposed to look like growth looks more like regression and sloppy writing on Pullman's part. Pullman's blatantly anti-Christian propaganda becomes clear in this volume, and while the mysteries which were introduced in the first book seemed intriguing, with more and more explanation, they become both more confusing and more dull. The exposition is not very well written, and is barely rescued by a few interesting plot twists. ( )
  milkyfangs | Jun 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 229 (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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