The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman

Ah the middle book of a trilogy, a tricky place. You’ve introduced your characters, but the resolution is far away, and it’s time to set the pieces in place for the finale. Pullman does a good job here, broadening the universe further by literally adding countless alternative universes, all the while giving us a literal war with God. So uh, that religion thing, not subtle about that one was he, no wonder he copped flak (and I haven’t even seen what he’ll do next).

We start following around Will, and you are left wondering, what happened to Lyra, and am I actually reading the right book. Because we’re in a modern day world, this wasn’t the one Lyra was in, so what’s going on? That’s right, we’ve actually gone into another universe, and soon enough we find Lyra in yet another universe. One where adults are turned into lifeless forms by Spectres. All because someone tried to split open a fundamental particle, the ever intriguing, Dust, or Dark Matter, or Shadows. And what else do we get to do in this book, have an actual conversation with Dust, that’s what. And there are angels, and what is even happening anymore.

We are once again left wondering, who should I be rooting for here. Lyra? Will? Are they mutually exclusive? What about Asriel or Coulter? Asriel is amassing an army to fight ‘the authority’ (aka God). And Mrs Coulter wants to help Lyra prevent the Original Sin. Like, who are we going for here? It’s so confusing.

There were times where I was restless. It was likely because we had split perspectives and I just wanted to know what was going on with Lyra or someone else. But there was probably a sense of the middle book territory where it can feel like a lot of pieces are being placed, and we’re just waiting for the game. The majority of that feeling was likely the former, which I guess is a complement, because it means I actually want to know what is going on. AND UGH PULLMAN WHY DO YOU END IT LIKE THAT.

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