His Dark Materials: The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman
February 25, 2010 § 12 Comments
And so this book, The Amber Spyglass ends my 1016-page long journey through His Dark Materials. And I don’t know how to start telling you about what a wonderful adventure it has been.
Will and Lyra now share a strong bond between them, a sense of duty and protection for one another. There is something they must do, and they go to all extremes to get the job done. They get separated, but drawn together like two opposite sides of a magnet, Will seeks Lyra out, searching for her through different worlds, meeting angels who insist on his fulfilling his duty. They are held hostage, then take company with spies; they go to worlds they should never have entered. And war was never more imminent.
I don’t want to ruin the book for those who haven’t read it yet. So much of the story in this third book ties in back to the first and second, it’s hardly possible to gush about it without spoilers. But in more general terms, I think this book was probably the most complex of the three, possibly because it’s the one that took on the most difficult task of ending the trilogy. So many things that were left hanging now needed a place to land properly, issues that were left loose now needed to be tied up, and rough edges needed to be smoothened. In the midst of all that, new characters were still being introduced, more problems kept coming our way, and Lyra and Will were slowly but surely growing up.
Some parts of this book felt a little random, and I got confused a couple of times, but nothing too drastic, nor anything I couldn’t forgive Pullman for. Because for any of the flaws that this final book might have had, the story compensated for it, and more. Characters I thought I knew introduced to me this other side to them that I never knew existed; they did things that even they didn’t expect themselves to do, and always something would end, and I would feel this sudden jolt, or my heart would squeeze and I’d hold my breath. Sometimes, it got rather painful.
The trilogy as a whole is just one helluva story. It had everything you could ever imagine, and it had things you never would have imagined. While things were happening in front of you (that’s what it felt like, the action was just right in front of you), there was still this impending doom hanging over your head (again, that’s exactly what it felt like, just up there over our head). Even when Pullman does nothing to draw your attention to that dark cloud, you’d still feel it there anyway, and you want to warn Lyra and Will about it, but you don’t really know what it is. And that’s what keeps you turning those pages; the feeling that you know something is going to happen, but what is it? Does it happen? Does it not happen? After that, something else will happen, but what? And it goes on.
The back of the book has this quoted:
This trilogy is one of the great imaginative works in the English language. And it contains one of the best villians in all literature.
~ Terry Jones
The best thing about it is that there’s never really one person/character/thing that I can point to and say, “You’re the ultimate villian.” Because there isn’t. There is always a sense of it, and sometimes you think you can find a physical manifest for it, but most of the time, it’s just there, you know it’s there, and that’s all there is to it.
It’s a trilogy that I can just see myself wanting to reread some time in the future. The worlds that Pullman created in there were just so full of magic, yet so believable, I could almost taste the chill and frost in the air (and it’s summer here in New Zealand). You just can’t help but get lost and immersed in it.
This has got to be one of the best (if not the best) stories I’ve read this year.
For: Random Reading Challenge
Note: Comparing the 3 books, I think The Subtle Knife stands just a fraction of an inch taller than the other two. Just that little bit. Click to read my thoughts on: Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife.