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La Belle Sauvage (2017)

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Book of Dust (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9001073,546 (4.11)134
When Malcolm finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust, he finds himself embroiled in a tale of intrigue featuring enforcement agents from the Magisterium, a woman with an evil monkey daemon, and a baby named Lyra.

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» See also 134 mentions

English (105)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (107)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
I love the original trilogy. The Golden Compass was one of the books that restarted my love for reading/audiobooks. When I heard Pullman was writing a new series I couldn't wait. When I read it, it felt very much in the same world. There were mysteries that organically unraveled to open new possibilities in the world while introducing the characters. This one had a lot of groundwork being laid that I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next book. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
Very good but so far this series is no His Dark Materials. Nor is any other series ever written, to be fair! ( )
  rosscharles | May 19, 2021 |
I wolfed this book three hundred pages nonstop at a time, just two big bites and I was left in a daze on the couch bloated but sated.

Pullman's imagination, plotting, and writing, they're as smooth as his Tokay (which I imagine is absolutely neat-o!). He captures perfectly the determination and the foolishness of youth but he never underestimates nor condescends.

The story is superficially so simple. Like the flood, it covers up so much machinations below the surface. The invisible current sweeps you along - seemingly randomly - but thanks to the exquisite control of the author, your final destination is where you're meant to be and yet it never felt forced.

As with His Dark Materials, The Book of Dust seems destined to be a perfect trilogy. Now I just have to find a copy of The Secret Commonwealth and eagerly await the release of the third. (Edit: it has come to my attention that TSC has some questionable content which has made me very disappointed in Pullman and not want to read it anymore.)

Aside: children rowing down a river feels like a perfect children's adventure. Reading this book reminded me so much of Eva Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea. So much nostalgia.

Aside II: can't stop thinking what my dæmon would be, hopefully something cute and not evil. ( )
  kitzyl | May 17, 2021 |
I'm a fan of Pullman's (well, except for his disparagement of Milne, who is a cherished part of my childhood). I relished the Golden Compass et al., and his opinions on organized religion chime powerfully with mine. So I looked forward to this and absolutely enjoyed it. It is not great literature, but his craft is solid, his characters interesting, vivid and very likable. It's a "lark" for birders, populated with avian daemons (owls, crows, finches...). He has created a culture so convincing that when the heinous Gerard Bonneville violently thrashes his hyena daemon, it is truly shocking. Other reviewers have described the hyena as horrifying, terrible, scary... I found her more tragic than awful. The League of St. Alexander, which co-opts children into informing on their parents, teachers and schoolmates to the sinister religious cabal is far more frightening. This is a finely involving, thoughtful, and compelling adventure story with a hero you will admire and become fond of. I eagerly await the next volume! ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
I began this book a bit skeptical, and ended it mostly charmed, and over the course of the plot my level of interest in the proceedings went up and down quite a bit.

Pullman's capable and charming protagonists, first Malcolm and then Alice, get themselves into and out of major trouble over the course of the book (as an adult reader there wasn't anything too shocking, but I can imagine younger readers being pretty disturbed by a plot that rather frankly deals with violence, murder, sex, and rape, so be aware), passing from the world of the mundane to the fantastical and back again. There are echoes of the adventures that Lyra (here an 8-month-old baby who's presence complicates matters mostly by her habit of soiling her nappies) and Will have many years after the events in this book, but overall the tale of Malcolm, Alice, and "The Belle Sauvage" is more local and intimate in focus: The action is largely confined to Oxford and the English countryside, with the occasional jaunt to more exotic realms.

The plot can sometimes be meandering and recursive to a fault, Pullman has a strange habit here of having Malcolm witness something, then describe what he has just witnessed to another character in detail, in a manner that does help to reinforce elements of Malcolm's personality (observant and intelligent, but limited to a child's comprehension of events), but inevitably feels both repetitive and a bit odd. The book takes a major turn about halfway through, with the action becoming markedly more propulsive after a series of major events change the situational (and physical) landscape, but here again there are oft-repeated elements (building a fire, changing the previously mentioned dirty nappies, seeking out supplies) that can bog down the otherwise propulsive plot. Interestingly, the second half of the book reminded me more than a little of elements of [b:A Wizard of Earthsea|13642|A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1353424536s/13642.jpg|113603] with its desperate flight over water, pursuit by a shadowy evil, and self-contained encounters with magic and spirits on lonely islands that lay the groundwork for presumed later events.

Pullman has pulled off an interesting trick here, filling in corners of the universe of [b:His Dark Materials|18116|His Dark Materials (His Dark Materials #1-3)|Philip Pullman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1442329494s/18116.jpg|1943518] in ways that are generally unexpected, and that I for one hadn't even really considered: Who created the alethiometer? What are baby dæmons like? What does the soul of a madman look like? Are there færies is this world? As a stand alone novel [b:La Belle Sauvage|34128219|La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)|Philip Pullman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1498930382s/34128219.jpg|14190696] probably wouldn't work, it introduces too may different threads and leaves almost all of them loose at the somewhat abrupt conclusion. And if the concept of this book was to continue with young Malcolm's adventures years before [b:His Dark Materials|18116|His Dark Materials (His Dark Materials #1-3)|Philip Pullman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1442329494s/18116.jpg|1943518] takes place, I don't know if I would be very excited to continue. However, it seems that the plot of the next volume of The Book of Dust, [b:The Secret Commonwealth|19034943|The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust, #2)|Philip Pullman|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1551278002s/19034943.jpg|27058954] will flash forward a hefty 20 years, continuing the tale of Lyra (who will be 20 years old) and Malcolm (31), thus interweaving the plotlines of this new trilogy with Pullman's classic. That's an exciting and intriguing possibility that will have me back in the world of alethiometers, dæmons, and dust before long, I reckon. ( )
  francoisvigneault | May 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
I recognize that my expectations are impossibly high and that, in literature as well as in romance, you cannot return to the exact feeling you had before. I’d like to think that Pullman is biding his time, laying down the groundwork for what is yet to come.

And even with its longueurs, the book is full of wonder. [...] It’s a stunning achievement, the universe Pullman has created and continues to build on. All that remains is to sit tight and wait for the next installment.
added by melmore | editNew York Times, Sarah Lyall (Oct 18, 2017)
The Greeks permeate his writing. Like Odysseus, his new hero, Malcolm, is on a self-appointed quest, fighting off enemies from his boat. (He’s also very unlike Odysseus, being 11 years old, ginger-haired and partial, like Pullman, to woodworking and meat pies.) “The Book of Dust” has other touchstones too: William Blake, the occult, ancient civilizations, East Asia and a eight-minute piece by Borodin called “In the Steppes of Central Asia.” Most of all, Edmund Spenser’s epic, 16th-century allegory, “The Faerie Queene.” Pullman copies the structure of “The Faerie Queene” — strange encounter after strange encounter — but thankfully not its style. When I admitted how I had struggled with the countless pages of archaic verse, Pullman shouted, gleeful, from his seat: “So did I! Couldn’t read it. Couldn’t read it at all until I was doing this.” His own novel is more readable, and earthier, locked into reality by character and geography, Malcolm and Oxford.

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pullman, Philipprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sheen, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wormell, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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When Malcolm finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust, he finds himself embroiled in a tale of intrigue featuring enforcement agents from the Magisterium, a woman with an evil monkey daemon, and a baby named Lyra.

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