21st November, 2018

REVIEW: The Book of Dust - La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

In The Book of Dust we revisit the world of Pullman's His Dark Materials series, but the story is set roughly ten years before the events in Northern Lights. Here, the protagonist is Malcolm Polstead, the son of an Innkeeper, who is regularly taking his boat ("La belle sauvage") around the canals of Oxford and therefore sees and hears more of what's happening in the area than other people. When he witnesses an alleged spy being hauled away by two men and several people arrive at the Inn asking strange questions, Malcolm's curiosity is triggered and he is hurled into a dangerous mission to protect baby Lyra.

The story starts out a bit slow but becomes increasingly fast-paced after the first half. It is full of little mysteries and I found Malcolm, the boy turned spy, to be a likeable and versatile character. Pullman captures the atmosphere of the original books well. However, it is quite obvious that The Book of Dust is but part one of a new series - it feels more like an exposition to a more elaborate story that will deal with more of Lyra's past.

All in all it was wonderful and entertaining to revisit Pullman's world of alethiometres, daemons and secret societies. I would have liked a more rounded narrative though, even if this is "only" the first part of a series.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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