The story in this book is the second of the Dark Materials trilogy and should not be read before reading the first book. That being said, I loved this trilogy and feel that it surpasses even Harry Potter (another series that I love). The book is written for young adults, but I've known several older adults who've read the book and enjoyed it tremendously.
"The Subtle Knife" is the second book in "The Dark Materials" trilogy. This book introduces a whole new story line to the story: that of young Will Parry, a boy from "our world" in Oxford. Will decides to undertake a mission to discover the fate of his father, the Arctic explorer John Parry. Will meets the young girl Lyra Silvertongue, protagonist of "The Golden Compass" and together they undertake the search for Will's father.
This book is even more magical than the first book in the trilogy.
This book is listed as a young adult but I have read the trilogy twice now as an adult and throughly enjoyed it. The Subtle Knife is the best of the trilogy. Read it the first time when my daughter was in elementary school and reread the series after seeing the Golden Compass. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and reading just one more chapter before you go to bed.
Volume 2 of His Dark Materials. I found the characters uneven, with motivations that aren't explained, and the overall direction of the story gets a bit muddled in here.
Not terrible, but just not that good.
The second and third books in the series are written for people whose spirtual journey is not yet over. If you are absolutely sure you have all the answers, then why bother reading anything? In my interpretation, Pullman is not "killing God." In actuality (in the third book in the series), God dies, or rather dissolves, from old age and irrelevancy. But keep in mind that Pullman's God is part of his constructed fantasy world. Some will find that offensive. I didn't; but then my journey is still ongoing.
nougat37 reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on
I did not care for the book itself. While I realize that good characters should change as time passes, just like people, I was bothered by the changes in Lyra. She just didn't seem like herself. Will, the main character for this book, didn't interest me all that much either. In fact, I can't say I cared or was even interested in ANY of the characters.
I continued reading this book, thinking it might get more interesting. The plot points were not compelling to me.
I realize this is a middle book, so it may get how this all fits together until the last book, but I'm not all that compelled to finish the series.
This is the second book in the series and does not stand alone so read The Golden Compass first. This is still a good read, but not as good as the first book.
There is some interesting stuff in here about wars in heaven and how angels came to be. There is a promise of a really interesting revelation. Lyra's father has upset the balance of the world in the first book and there are lots of references to Lyra being the Eve of the remaking of the world.
There are some anti-religious references, but the speculation is confined to fantasy. You must believe the fantasy the author creates to truly find this a reasonable argument against God.
This one picked up right away from where the first book (The Golden Compass) left off and was very interesting. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Mostly, I was thrilled and shocked with the end. It was exciting and surprisingly sad. I am very interested to keep reading. The religious stuff was a bit more involved in this one, and my only real complaint about the whole book was the over-use of the title within the prose. It just grated on my nerves.
The second in the His Dark Material trilogy, this book is just as good as the first, and sets the reader up for the amazing finale. Better than most fantasy I've ever read, and definately for more than just young adults!
This book is the second of the dark material series. Lyra and Will are introduced to other worlds in different dimensions as they search for Will's lost father. Along the way, they obtain the subtle knife, which can slice through any form of matter. Their journey is hastened and interrupted by the magisterium and others seeking to kill them.
This series is controversial because Lyra and Will are supposed to be Eve and Adam, complete with committing the original sin. According to Pullman, God isn't the ultimate creator. He is a lying angel on a power trip, who just happened to be the first one created from Dust. The children are supposed to kill God, but the moment is rather anti-climactic.
I would recommend this book to anybody who is seeking spiritual enlightenment. Read it as a work of fiction, not a religious text and it is an enjoyable, well written story that makes you think.
With The Golden Compass Philip Pullman garnered every accolade under the sun. Critics lobbed around such superlatives as "elegant," "awe-inspiring," "grand," and "glittering," and used "magnificent" with gay abandon. Each reader had a favorite chapter--or, more likely, several--from the opening tour de force to Lyra's close call at Bolvangar to the great armored-bear battle. And Pullman was no less profligate when it came to intellectual firepower or singular characters. The dæmons alone grant him a place in world literature. Could the second installment of his trilogy keep up this pitch, or had his heroine and her too, too sullied parents consumed him? And what of the belief system that pervaded his alternate universe, not to mention the mystery of Dust? More revelations and an equal number of wonders and new players were definitely in order.
The Subtle Knife offers everything we could have wished for, and more. For a start, there's a young hero--from our world--who is a match for Lyra Silvertongue and whose destiny is every bit as shattering. Like Lyra, Will Parry has spent his childhood playing games. Unlike hers, though, his have been deadly serious. This 12-year-old long ago learned the art of invisibility: if he could erase himself, no one would discover his mother's increasing instability and separate them.
As the novel opens, Will's enemies will do anything for information about his missing father, a soldier and Arctic explorer who has been very much airbrushed from the official picture. Now Will must get his mother into safe seclusion and make his way toward Oxford, which may hold the key to John Parry's disappearance. But en route and on the lam from both the police and his family's tormentors, he comes upon a cat with more than a mouse on her mind: "She reached out a paw to pat something in the air in front of her, something quite invisible to Will." What seems to him a patch of everyday Oxford conceals far more: "The cat stepped forward and vanished." Will, too, scrambles through and into another oddly deserted landscape--one in which children rule and adults (and felines) are very much at risk. Here in this deathly silent city by the sea, he will soon have a dustup with a fierce, flinty little girl: "Her expression was a mixture of the very young--when she first tasted the cola--and a kind of deep, sad wariness." Soon Will and Lyra (and, of course, her dæmon, Pantalaimon) uneasily embark on a great adventure and head into greater tragedy.
As Pullman moves between his young warriors and the witch Serafina Pekkala, the magnetic, ever-manipulative Mrs. Coulter, and Lee Scoresby and his hare dæmon, Hester, there are clear signs of approaching war and earthly chaos. There are new faces as well. The author introduces Oxford dark-matter researcher Mary Malone; the Latvian witch queen Ruta Skadi, who "had trafficked with spirits, and it showed"; Stanislaus Grumman, a shaman in search of a weapon crucial to the cause of Lord Asriel, Lyra's father; and a serpentine old man whom Lyra and Pan can't quite place. Also on hand are the Specters, beings that make cliff-ghasts look like rank amateurs.
Throughout, Pullman is in absolute control of his several worlds, his plot and pace equal to his inspiration. Any number of astonishing scenes--small- and large-scale--will have readers on edge, and many are cause for tears. "You think things have to be possible," Will demands. "Things have to be true!" It is Philip Pullman's gift to turn what quotidian minds would term the impossible into a reality that is both heartbreaking and beautiful
I just finished the last of Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials books. I have to say all three were spellbinding and I ate them up.
The Subtle Knife is my favorite by far. If you are Lyra's fan you will love this book as I do. It is more of an in-depth look at our fair young heroine. This book brings in a new character as well. You won�t want to put this book down. The vivid imagination from the author paints a scene that will keep the pages turning unnoticed as the movie plays in your head.
After watching the movie (which I thought was kind of dull), I tried out reading the books. The first book is better than the movie, by quite a bit, but still at times it felt like it was "work" to read. The second book was even worse and then the third book I skipped most of it. The first book is worth reading the second and third are not.
I just finished reading this book and it is excellent.
Yes, it is a little dreary-dismal but so are the Harry Potter books and the Lord of the Rings.
Read the first one, The Golden Compass, first... definitely.
The book kept me interested throughout.
I read it all the way through and I am a grown-up!
All three books are keepers!
Second in the His Dark Materials trilogy, this book was as much of a page-turner as the first one. This book begins in "our" world at the home of a young boy named Will, who eventually meets up with Lyra, the girl from The Golden Compass, and they set out on their own adventures together from 'our' world to parallel universes that are recognizable but vastly different as they try to stop the evil Mrs. Coulter and her friends from gaining control of "dust."
I felt this book was a bit on the disturbing side. Children going out to kill God is scary at the best. The "Dust" are fallen angels that created man's conscience (which is clearly against the teaching of the Bible), and they are the ones that are guiding the children to the inevitable ending.
Again, as others have said, this is NOT a children's story. Just because the author declares it to be, does not therefore make it so. In fact, it reminds me of something scrawled on the restroom wall of my alma mater:
DO NOT BE FOOLED! Our family listened to the audio of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife - enjoying the action, while still having an uncomfortable feeling in the gut. When we got to the third book in the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass - we stopped listening. For the Christian - this is NOTHING SHORT OF BLASPHEMY. The entire series is about "killing God" in the author's own words. The third book in the worst - but all are bad....trying to set the trap to ensnare kids into the fantasy world of believing all this stuff. No, the demons, witches, spectors and talking animals didn't freak us out. It was the out-and-out lies of an athiest author that turned us off. So, IF YOU ARE CHRISTIAN....DON'T BOTHER WITH THIS SERIES.