Tag Archives: Phillip Pullman

Re-reading ‘His Dark Materials’ (Part 1)


Before ‘The Book of Dust’ came out I had said to myself that I wanted to re-read ‘His Dark Materials’. The plan was to read them then buy ‘The Book of Dust’…but I sort of failed. ‘The Book of Dust’ came out and I hadn’t even started ‘The Northern Lights’ (Or the Golden Compass if you’re an American person). I tried not the buy ‘The Book of Dust’ but I didn’t manage that either! So since ‘The Book of Dust’ came out I have been, with the occasional break, making my way through ‘His Dark Materials’. I wanted to not write a review as such, because of it being a re-read, but to sort of get some thoughts down.

I discovered ‘The Northern Lights’ around about the same time as I was discovering Harry Potter, I want to say 1998- I had got ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ the Christmas before. I guess 1998 was a good bookish year for me! Because these were two amazing books, and two fantasy books, that I discovered around about the same time I always compared them in my head and they became sort of linked to one another.

‘His Dark Materials’ could have easily done what Harry Potter did. At the time I prefered ‘Northern Lights’ to ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ and I think the series as a whole are certainly at least comparable in the sense of enjoyment. Harry Potter became more important because it was more than a book after a while, it was a part of my life, but even now I would say as a series in itself ‘His Dark Materials’ is better.

The Northern Lights

This one has always been my favourite, which makes it quite unique as a start of a series, because the first book is often about establishing background and story foundations. In fact one thing I would say about the series as a whole is that each book could be read independently, even though they do link together.

I really love Lyra in this book. She’s just a normal kid, pretty much. She’s not some angel, or a nightmare, and her motivations are somehow realistic. It’s not about saving the world or some sense of bigger purpose, she just cares about her friend, and she wants to visit the north. For a kid yes she ends up doing some amazing things, but actually she’s still very much a child. I suppose you can say she’s an unlikely heroine because she was never trying to be one. And she’s relatable because she’s so ‘normal’.

Despite this being the book of the series that I’ve read the most I was surprised of how much I’d forgotten. At times I thought I was being smart when reading- but was maybe actually just remembering at the back of my mind somewhere. It doesn’t help that the other half kept telling me thing that were going to happen because his own memories of the book were different!

One of these things which has been said about ‘His Dark Materials’ is that it’s anti-Christian. When I was younger I would have defended this as being wrong because Lyra’s world is a different world. Now I read ‘The Northern Lights’ and see the parallels. Lyra’s church does have a certain Catholic like element, the beauty and extravagance, the idea of a powerful church leader. From within that’s not my experience of Catholicism, but it does have those elements. Does that make the books anti-christian? I’m not so sure. I think, at least in this book, it’s more against the misuse of religion. The idea that by doing bad things you are somehow doing something for God. Now the crusades would be criticised, but in their time people saw it as helping spread the ‘true’ religion. Or if you want a more modern version, ISIS is apparently muslim- but most muslims don’t support ISIS. In later books I might change my view of how ‘His Dark Materials’ might be anti-christian, but we will get to that later

Buy:

Northern Lights Paperback (£3.99) Kindle (£4.99) Hardback (£12.27)

His Dark Materials Paperback (£15.40) Kindle (£13.99) Hardback (£15.42)

The Book of Dust Hardback (£9.99) Kindle (£9.99)

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Children’s Book Week (Books for older children)


Yes that’s right book fans, it’s still Children’s Book Week. Today I’m looking at books for older children (i.e. children who can read for themselves). As before these are books I enjoyed as a child.

Image from The Book Depository

Anything by Roald Dahl.

Apart from the adult books obviously. I think I have read more or less every children’s book by Roald Dahl. I am still a particular fan of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I just loved the idea of a chocolate factory being like that, and I loved reading about the horrid boys and girls. I wanted to be Matilda though! I remember being disappointed in the Matilda film because it didn’t have my favourite scene from the book, where Matilda puts the parrot up the chimney.

Image from The Book Depository

Anything by Jacqueline Wilson.

Jacqueline Wilson was my favourite author for quite a few years. I read everything written by her up until I was about 12 and after then I read Falling Apart (which was more of a Young Adult novel, and now I think about it pretty depressing) a couple of times as a teenager. I always say I was a fan of Jacqueline Wilson before it was cool. I even wrote her a letter, and I still have the reply she sent me. My favourite Jacqueline Wilson book was probably The Lottie Project which I liked for it’s historical bits and its issue-y bits.

Image from The Book Depository

Special Powers- Mary Hoffman

This book was one I kept borrowing from the library again and again. I really don’t know why I never bought it. Maybe because at the time I only got 50p pocket money a week. It would never have occurred to me to buy my own books when I could go to the library or ask my parents to buy them. And even then I rarely asked my parents to buy things for me, or at least things more expensive than a pack of sweets. Anyway the book. Special Powers is about a girl, Emily who is a pretty normal girl, boring even. She brings excitement to her life by imagining a fantasy land where she is queen. One day she meets a girl who has just moved to town with her strange family and her fantasy starts to seem more realistic. Special Powers is the first fantasy book I can ever remember reading. Although I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy anymore it still holds a special place in my heart, and this book lead me to some of my favourite books.

His Dark Materials Thrilogy- Phillip Pullman

Image from Amazon

To this day Northern Lights remains one of my favourite books (while I enjoyed the others I liked Northern Lights the best). I love the characters, all off them. Especially I loved Lyra, and Mrs Coulter and Lord Asriel were both fascinating. For a while I even considered that I might name one of my children Lyra. I would recommend these books to pretty much anyone, adult or child. I even managed to convince a few girls in my English class to read The Amber Spyglass one year when it was a nominee in a children’s book award (it didn’t win but if everyone else was put off by the size of it, like many in my class were, I’m not surprised).

Image from goodreads

The Adventure Series- Enid Blyton

I used to get teased by my sisters for reading these books. When I was a kid it really wasn’t cool to like Enid Blyton. The Famous Five was still popular but I always refused to read them because I didn’t want to read the popular ones (even now I often shy away from books which are very popular). I liked them though. They were exciting. I didn’t read them in order, but I don’t think it really mattered. I started off with The Circus of Adventure, and, maybe because I owned it and got to re-read it, it was my favourite. Oh and I liked the parrot (Kiki) and that one of the characters was called Lucy-Anne which is my name and my sister’s name together (Simple pleasures!). I also read all the Secret Seven books and particularly liked that one of the characters had a pet monkey.

Image from Amazon

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit- Judith Kerr

Yes the same Judith Kerr who wrote The Tiger who came to Tea which I mentioned in my previous post, but I did not realise it until yesterday! I often credit this book for starting my love of historical fiction. Or, more accurately fiction focused around war time. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is beautifully and sensitively written for children in a way that really gets into a child’s mind. Not just worries about war but little things too, like leaving your toy rabbit behind. I cannot let it go past though that I loved lots of ‘war stories’. Carrie’s War. Goodbye Marianne. Remembrance. A Little Love Song (although that came more as a teenager) Goodnight Mister Tom. The Dairy of Anne Frank. Tom’s Midnight Garden

I do not think I need to do more than mention my love of Harry Potter. I could not even link you all the posts for it! But if you type Harry Potter into the little search box on my sidebar you will find plenty! Or click the link and you will find out about my relationship with the Harry Potter books.

I feel I am missing so many books out but still special mentions go to. Heaven Eyes. Woof! Bill’s New Frock. The Family from One End Street. The Hobbit. The Peppermint Pig. The Sophie Books. Moondial, The Worst Witch, The Horrible Histories books, Witch Child.

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Great Literary Women


I thought it would be good to make a post for International Woman’s Day (which, if it has managed to pass you by, is today) So I thought I would make a post about great women in literature. I would love to hear your own thoughts on this, who else would you include? Who wouldn’t you include?

In no particular order

1) Lyra Belacqua/Lyra Silvertongue (His Dark Materials- Phillip Pullman): Lyra’s quest in the first of the Northern Lights starts as a quest to save her friend, but as Lyra grows it becomes a fight for her beliefs and what is right.

2) Ana Fitzgerald (My Sister’s Keeper– Jodi Picoult): Ana is great because he stands up to her parents, a very difficult thing to do for a young girl, because she believes she is right. (Highlight for spoiler)Ultimately she does this not for selfish reasons but because her sister asked her to, which makes me respect her all the more

3) Ma (Room– Emma Donoghue): Ma is strong because she goes through so much but still manages to bring Jack up well despite being away from civilisation, and because she fights to get Jack out of Room

4) Thursday Next (The Thursday Next Series- Jasper Fforde): I find Thursday Next especially strong in Something Rotten, not only is she fighting the criminals, but she’s also fighting the establishment, the corporation, fighting to have her husband re-actualised and being a single parent!

5) Minny (The Help- Kathryn Stockett) Minny doesn’t take rubbish from anyone, even though she may be better off fearing. She holds together her family and is a great friend. When she is loyal she stays loyal but you certainly don’t want to get on the wrong side of her!

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