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The Secret Commonwealth

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Book of Dust (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4255010,673 (3.99)59
It is twenty years since the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded and saw the baby Lyra Belacqua begin her life-changing journey. It is seven years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford's Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materialssequence. Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child . . . The second volume of Sir Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now twenty years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed. Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right. Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost - a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust. 'Sheen conjures a multitude of accents and delivers rapid-fire conversations between them. He's in step with the text at every turn; when situations become fraught or dangerous, Sheen ramps up the tension exquisitely. Thanks to Pullman's intricate storytelling and Sheen's propulsive narration, listeners will be on the edge of their seats' - AudioFile The Secret Commonwealth is truly a book for our times; a powerful adventure and a thought-provoking look at what it is to understand yourself, to grow up and make sense of the world around you. This is storytelling at its very best from one of our greatest writers.… (more)
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» See also 59 mentions

English (48)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (50)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
This is the second in The Book of Dust series, a new series in the same universe as Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. In this book, we follow Lyra as an adult in a world that is complicated by increasing control by the Magisterium.

Based on pre-release descriptions of this book, I was worried that it was going to lean too heavily on awkwardness between Lyra and Malcolm as a theme. Fortunately, that element was neither under- nor over-emphasized. Instead, what we get is a mix of espionage, fantasy, and learning how to adult that was quite enjoyable. There's also a good dash of philosophy on reality and consciousness that I'm interesting to see developed. Pullman can be a bit heavy handed about such things, but I personally enjoy it (whether or not I agree).

One thing this volume did well was start to pull together what had seemed like random elements of the first volume (one of the things that had dissatisfied me about the first volume). One of the things that it did badly was to not tie up any plot lines at the end of the book. This failure is so common in series and trilogies that I tend to think of it as the "second book problem", so I can't fault Pullman completely. However, great series manage to tie up something significant feeling in each volume while still leaving and opening plenty of threads for later.

Overall, this was worth reading and made reading the first volume in the Book of Dust, which I'd been so-so on, worthwhile. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
While I enjoyed revisiting the characters from His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust, #1 - I felt a little disappointed in the lack of resolution. It was a gripping book which gave lots of insight into familiar story lines, but frankly left me unfulfilled. I know they will be revisited in The Book of Dust, #3 but I wished for most of a conclusion here. I appreciate how Pullman aged the writing style - much more darker and gritter with teen/adult tones and conflicts - but certain parts felt out of place and rushed. I wonder if it will all come together in the next book. ( )
  FrontierGirl | Jul 3, 2022 |
Michael Sheen is an actual god. Somewhat disappointed by the abrupt, middle-of-the-story ending and tendency towards the typical dark moodiness of the 2nd in a trilogy (see LOTR) but overall fell right back into the delightful world creation of PP. Excited for the next book. ( )
  cefreedman | Jul 1, 2022 |
How unexpected a book is this? Full of new ideas, new challenges, strange unexpected twists; both in plot and in where you think the whole philosophical place the writer is coming from. I want the next one soon!! ( )
  Estragon1958 | May 23, 2022 |
Ugh. I can’t believe I finished it. I shouldn’t have. It was plodding and keeping all the intrigue and characters straight was annoying. I won’t read the third one. ( )
  Dairyqueen84 | Mar 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
The Secret Commonwealth is a book whose political signification is much closer to the surface than in earlier work: both the refugee crisis and the current state of democracy are repeatedly referenced. There's something really interesting going on here: by interjecting familiar real-world concerns into a well-loved fiction universe, Pullman gives them added urgency, powerful resonance. A scene in which a ferry capsizes a boat of refugees is almost unreadably tragic; doubly so when we see it through the eyes of Lyra, with whom many of us have grown up. [...]

It's darker and more dangerous than much YA fiction, but there was nothing here that my 11-year-old couldn't handle – indeed he raced through it quicker than I did; loved it, if possible, even more. [...] That Pullman is our best children's author is clear; The Secret Commonwealth establishes him as one of our greatest writers, full stop.
added by Cynfelyn | editThe Guardian, Alex Preston (Oct 20, 2019)
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

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

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Epigraph
Every thing possible to be believ'd is an image of truth. —William Blake
Dedication
To Nick Messenger, fine poet and indomitable friend
First words
Pantalaimon, the dæmon of Lyra Belacqua, now called Lyra Silvertongue, lay along the windowsill of Lyra's little study-bedroom in St. Sophia's College in a state far from thought as he could get.
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Everything possible to be believ'd is an image of truth

- William Blake
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It is twenty years since the events of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One unfolded and saw the baby Lyra Belacqua begin her life-changing journey. It is seven years since readers left Lyra and the love of her young life, Will Parry, on a park bench in Oxford's Botanic Gardens at the end of the ground-breaking, bestselling His Dark Materialssequence. Now, in The Secret Commonwealth, we meet Lyra Silvertongue. And she is no longer a child . . . The second volume of Sir Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust sees Lyra, now twenty years old, and her daemon Pantalaimon, forced to navigate their relationship in a way they could never have imagined, and drawn into the complex and dangerous factions of a world that they had no idea existed. Pulled along on his own journey too is Malcolm; once a boy with a boat and a mission to save a baby from the flood, now a man with a strong sense of duty and a desire to do what is right. Theirs is a world at once familiar and extraordinary, and they must travel far beyond the edges of Oxford, across Europe and into Asia, in search for what is lost - a city haunted by daemons, a secret at the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust. 'Sheen conjures a multitude of accents and delivers rapid-fire conversations between them. He's in step with the text at every turn; when situations become fraught or dangerous, Sheen ramps up the tension exquisitely. Thanks to Pullman's intricate storytelling and Sheen's propulsive narration, listeners will be on the edge of their seats' - AudioFile The Secret Commonwealth is truly a book for our times; a powerful adventure and a thought-provoking look at what it is to understand yourself, to grow up and make sense of the world around you. This is storytelling at its very best from one of our greatest writers.

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