Continuing on from last time with the fantasy thread (many, many trilogies are fantastical or supernatural themed, so it seems) we’re spotlighting His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. They’re reasonably well-known, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recommend them to you!
The first book, Northern Lights (also published as The Golden Compass) follows 11 year old Lyra Belacqua, a young girl living at Oxford University and spending her days playing and warring with the kitchen boy and other young ruffians. Lyra’s uncle Lord Asriel is a famous scientific researcher, and during one of his rare trips home to Oxford, Lyra overhears Lord Asriel’s theory of the existence of multiple worlds, as well as learning of a mysterious substance called Dust, with a capital D. As well as all this, children all over England are going missing by child snatchers known among kids and adults alike as the “Gobblers”. Lyra fights for, then is abruptly hurled into an epic adventure to the Northern Lights in the Arctic in order to rescue the missing children and prove Lord Asriel’s theory of the universes. In 2007 there was a movie adaptation of the book (which you can reserve here), but in our opinion it doesn’t live up to the beautiful language and imagery of the novel. They did, however, get the look of the armoured talking bear Iorek Byrnison just right, then did even better by having him voiced by Ian McKellan. Perfect!
The Subtle Knife is the second in the trilogy. Lyra and Will, her new travel companion, find themselves in the tropical world of Cittàgazze where there are no adults and the kids run wild. With the aid of the alethiometer (a symbol reading device which only Lyra is capable of using) Lyra and Will must work together in order to find Will’s father. The alethiometer also leads them closer to the titular Subtle Knife, an ancient and deadly object with the power to cut open windows to other worlds. Witches, spirits, beasts and the worlds themselves are banding together like never before and bracing themselves for an epic battle with an extreme force that will affect them all.
Lastly is The Amber Spyglass. Lyra and Will are still in danger, but even more so now! With Iorek Byrnison and some other smaller companions they must travel to a world where no living soul has gone before. Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Malone, a physicist from Will’s world, has invented the Amber Spyglass after learning of the existence of Dust. She finds her way though a window to another world where she meets a species of creatures named the Mulefa (the descriptions of the Mulefa’s world are marvelous!). The Mulefa can see the mysterious Dust naturally, and Mary becomes fascinated by the strange creatures. Lord Asriel is fighting a rebellion, and Lyra and Will must face the realisation that the fate of the living, the dead and everything in between is now up to them.
This trilogy is pretty epic, and it’s challenging to summarise each of the novels, let alone the whole series! But since we have to, it’s about fantastical creatures, witches, talking polar bears, angels, adventure, discovery, friendship, and love of all kinds.
The trilogy is also available in one massive book here.