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The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

The Amber Spyglass (2000)

by Philip Pullman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: His Dark Materials (3)

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Showing 1-5 of 298 (next | show all)
I literally burned through His Dark Materials in two days. The world-building is exceptional and the story was fast-paced and engaging. This final book is not as good as the first book, but provides a (mostly) satisfying conclusion to a well-told tale.

Lyra has been captured by Mrs. Coulter and is being kept in a coma. In it, she dreams of Roger in the Land of the Dead. Will is desperate to find her and is relying on two reluctant angels to help him. Mary Malone has traveled to an alternate world, met a new and unusual people, and will be instrumental in learning the nature of Dust. Lyra will reunite with Roger, but she and Pan will pay a tragic price. All the while, Lord Asriel assembles an army to oppose The Authority and Mrs. Coulter continues to interfere in everything. So yeah, a lot happens in this conclusion!

Pullman pretty much abandoned subtlety in the second book of the trilogy: the Church is an enemy of reason and will engage in evil, including assassination, to protect its power. I see how people might view this series as an attack on religion. That didn’t bother me, except that the author makes it very black and white. Everyone working for the Magisterium is evil, everyone else is free to fall into shades of gray (both good and bad, as people are wont to be). This is unfortunate because it undermines the allegory he’s trying to weave, which is why I gave it four stars instead of five.

Still, the revelations concerning the nature of Dust and why children are the key to the story were excellent and very satisfying. Innocence is a type of Grace, but experience is just as beautiful. Reason makes us human. Overall, I thought the trilogy was excellent and with ideas that challenged me and kept me thinking long after the final page. I look forward to reading The Book of Dust. ( )
1 vote jshillingford | Aug 15, 2017 |
Forse il più bello, il più profondo ma anche il più difficile della trilogia. Alla fine non sono riuscita a non piangere. ( )
  LaPizia | Aug 3, 2017 |
This is a very hard book for me to review, because I remember it with such fondness. However, it is by far the weakest entry in the series. The problems of the previous books is compounded in this one. Primarily, Pullman's ambition far outstrips his storytelling ability.

The Amber Spyglass is far longer than the previous instalments, yet it moves at a crawl. The plot is fragmented, feeling rushed at some points yet far too slow in others. The theological leanings of The Subtle Knife have now sparked an epic battle between Lord Asriel and the angels, yet we see so little of it. Instead, we follow the young protagonists as they travel between worlds, motivated by dreams and plot conveniences, and spend a lot of time discussing their theories about life, death and faith with characters old and new.

The strong theological focus may also put off some younger readers. This book has a very anti-organised religion message and it goes to great lengths to illustrate this again and again. While I argued that you could enjoy the previous books without picking up on this message, this time it's unavoidable as it's deeply rooted in the plot.

Yet the novel is very moving and has some memorable scenes. It also isn't a very happy tale. There are a lot of deaths of major characters in the story and even Lyra and Will's story has a sting in its tail. If you don't like sad endings, I'd certainly suggest giving this one a miss.

Yet it was the characters that frustrated me the most. The female cast of this novel were especially frustrating. Lyra has "grown up" in this story by basically becoming submissive to Will. She doubts herself and stops doing things without his agreement. When danger strikes, she constantly reaches for him or hides behind him. Really, this annoyed me more than anything. Young Lyra had so many positive features but they all seem to have left her.

More annoying still was the fact that every character seems to have fallen in love with Lyra. Even career villains like Mrs Coulter have had sudden changes of heart in this story and will fall over themselves in order to protect her. Really, this was very weak characterisation. It should take more for a character to completely change their attitude to life. Mrs. Coulter has just become a completely different person between books.

Anyhow, to conclude, this book is a weak finale to an otherwise enjoyable series. It was just too long and contained a heavy-handed message and weak character development. Hopefully, Pullman will be back on form when the first Book of Dust is released later this year. ( )
  ArkhamReviews | Jul 20, 2017 |
( )
  Samantha_D | Jul 16, 2017 |
When I was younger, I only read the first book of the series and didn't enjoy it all that much. So in grad school, a friend and I who had had a similar reaction to the books when we were younger agreed to read them again and decide how we felt now. To me, this last book of the trilogy is the best one, the one where you get to see all of to strings come together. There is a lot of imagination and creativity in the world that Pullman has created. Personally I would have liked to get to the third book faster - the first two books dragged for me, and so while I enjoyed seeing all the parts come together in the last book I probably would have given up long before reaching it if I hadn't made an agreement to read all three of them. I love the world that Pullman created, and the story line is creative and intricate. I don't think Pullman's writing lives up to his ideas though, and I found his characters to be flat through much of the story. They would have moments of brilliance, and that was enough to keep me invested but not enough to make me fall in love with them.

The ending is brilliant though - Pullman does not pull his punches, and for a YA novel that it something to be admired. Having the courage to not create a fairy tale ending is deserving of kudos. I would definitely recommend this book with the caveats that you should not be 1) easily/at all offended by anti-Christian sentiment and 2) be willing to push through weak writing in order to read a great narrative. ( )
1 vote LSmith862 | May 31, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 298 (next | show all)
And as the bumpy journey among these dark materials comes to an end, there is the most moving of scenes: all fantasy subdued and only human frailty revealed in the real world of Oxford's Botanic Garden.

» Add other authors (45 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pullman, PhilipAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bailey, PeterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bützow, HeleneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bruno, FrancescoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pullman, PhilipNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rohmann, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

    Robert Grant, from Hymns Ancient and Modern.
O stars,
isn't it from you that the lover's desire for the face
of his beloved arises? Doesn't his secret insight
into her pure features come from pure constellations?

    Ranier Maria Rilke, The Third Elegy.
    From The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke (transl. Stephen Michell)
Fine vapors escape from whatever is doing the living.
The night is cold and delicate and full of angels
Pounding down the living. The factories are all lit up,
The chime goes unheard.
We are together at last, though far apart.

    John Ashbery, The Ecclesiast.
    From River and Mountains.
First words
In a valley shaded with rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where a stream milky with melt-water splashed and where doves and linnets flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half-hidden by the crag above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below.
I used to be a nun, you see. I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn't any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway. The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all.
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Book description
In the astonishing finale to the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra and Will are in unspeakable danger. With help from Iorek Byrnison the armored bear and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a dank and gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone. All the while, Dr. Mary Malone builds a magnificent Amber Spyglass. An assassin hunts her down, and Lord Asriel, with a troop of shining angels, fights his mighty rebellion, in a battle of strange allies—and shocking sacrifice.

As war rages and Dust drains from the sky, the fate of the living—and the dead—finally comes to depend on two children and the simple truth of one simple story.
Haiku summary
Heroine suffers.
But in the end it's only

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Lyra and Will find themselves at the center of a battle between the forces of the Authority and those gathered by Lyra's father, Lord Asriel.

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