Philip Pullman’s latest book is the first in a brand new series that takes place years before the His Dark Materials series. But how have critics reacted to it?
Winding the clock back a decade before the events of the original series, La Belle Sauvage promises the return of Lyra – here still an infant – and the emergence of young Malcolm Polstead, the future academic who suddenly finds himself drawn into the cloak-and-dagger intrigue of Lord Asriel, Lyra’s father. Beyond lie the elements that shape their world; the daemons that mirror their souls, the strange technology of the aletheiometer, the dark powers of the Magisterum and, above all, the Dust – salvation to some, the source of infinite evil to others.
The Guardian: “the commitment to the making of things as well as possible in the here and now expresses his faith that a well-made story, like the small, well-trimmed boat that carries the children on their long, dangerous journey, will offer shelter in any storm.”
The Independent: **** “Fans of His Dark Materials will find themselves joyfully immersed in a familiar world of daemons, alethiometers, the evil Magisterium, friendly witches and foul night-ghasts, yet also delighted by Pullman’s new material; meanwhile, awaiting first time readers is all the pleasure of commencing their own journey into this most captivating of universes at the very beginning of Lyra’s story.”
Herald Scotland: “It is to Pullman’s credit that he has tried to do more than play to the crowd with a reworking of greatest hits, and one now awaits the final two parts of The Book Of Dust – set ten years after the conclusion of the original trilogy – with expectations that are, like La Belle Sauvage itself, rather more realistic.”
The Times: “The early adventures of Lyra Belacqua are a less demanding read than His Dark Materials”
The Telegraph: ***** “Pullman is an easeful storyteller and an intricate and inventive world-builder, and everything he has to write is worth reading.”
The FT: “Pullman’s imagination is so enticing that any new window into it is welcome; and to connect once more with a fictional universe of such great power is a delight.”
Newstatesman.com: “Pullman’s world is not a “disenchanted” one; it is a world where matter and meaning are woven inseparably, as surely as they might be for an Eastern Christian theologian or for a Henry Vaughan or Thomas Traherne.”
The Spectator: “the problem with Pullman is that his larger aspiration — to see off Christianity — is an impediment to his storytelling.”
The Book of Dust Volume 1: La Belle Sauvage is available to buy now.