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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
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The Subtle Knife (original 1997; edition 2002)

by Philip Pullman

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18,09126794 (4.06)337
Member:brigneti
Title:The Subtle Knife
Authors:Philip Pullman
Info:Knopf Books for Young Readers (2002), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:fantasy, series, his dark materials

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The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (Author) (1997)

Recently added byprivate library, antdos, philosovashka, FUSDen, kl.meyer, boyboffin, FlaPubLibGuy, Bookwyrmle
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» See also 337 mentions

English (259)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (266)
Showing 1-5 of 259 (next | show all)
Doesn't hold up as well to a re-read as I'd hoped; its didacticism becomes even more glaring. ( )
  KateSherrod | Aug 1, 2016 |
The second installment in the His Dark Materials series, The Subtle Knife follows protagonist Lyra Silvertongue on her way to find out the truth about dust, a mysterious substance that seems to control many aspects of life in Lyra's world. Will Parry, a boy from another world, sets out to find his father. Then their paths cross and they discover that there are multiple worlds. Both know their way around Oxford, for example, but their versions of Oxford are somewhat different. To travel between the worlds, one has to find almost invisible doors in the air that serve as portals. In their quest, Lyra's alethiometer, a dust-powered instrument that tells her the truth about everything, is stolen. Confronting the thief, Lyra and Will are offered a deal to bring him the subtle knife, a knife that can cut through every material known to man. What is more, this knife can also be used to open doors into other worlds and the bearer of this knife has control over opening and closing those portals. In the meantime, Lord Asriel gathers troops to fight the authority. In the end, several plotlines converge and leave the reader with an outlook on what could happen in the third novel of the series.

I liked The Subtle Knife better than The Golden Compass as it was more fast-paced and seemed to be more mature than the first novel in the series. I kept turning pages in order to see what would eventually happen to Lyra and her world, but in the end I was a little disappointed by the open ending that leaves the most interesting questions unanswered. On the whole, 3.5 stars. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | Jul 16, 2016 |
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?


SPOILERS BOOK 3
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... ( )
  askajnaiman | Jun 14, 2016 |
The symbolism is still too heavy-handed for me, but I feel that I need to finish up the series. I read these when I was younger and they affected me deeply, and I wanted to re-read them to see why. Apparently because of the propaganda-esque tendencies of the series so far, which seem to be getting more obvious the further I go. Part of me doesn't want to finish, but the bigger part of me thinks I've come too far to stop now. ( )
  shulera1 | Jun 7, 2016 |
Second in the trilogy and very nearly as good. This book introduces Will and a new world and the adventures continue apace. Heartbreaking moments around family relationships. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Apr 25, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 259 (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 (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pullman, PhilipAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bailey, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peterson, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rohmann, 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..." 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)

(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.

(summary from another edition)

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