Saturday, May 21, 2011

His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Philip Pullman

I am fascinated by the many worlds and characters Pullman has created, and I enthusiastically recommend this trilogy to everyone--young and old. My book club hasn't read this trilogy yet, which consists of The Golden Compass (or The Northern Lights), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. But I will encourage them to because it will provoke some interesting conversation.

The following may semi-spoil things. I'll try not to be too specific.

I was curious to see what all the hubbabaloo was about "killing God," and, I have to say, I disagree with the notion that that's what these characters do. I understand the story as showing a tyrannical "authority," who is not the true creator but an angel imposter, who has inspired the religious leaders to oppress its peoples by spreading lies and keeping them in ignorance, and it is Lyra and Will's duty to help Asriel and others overpower this imposter and his minions and establish a new kingdom of heaven that fosters knowledge and tolerance and diversity.

The novel is kind of saying that Lucifer was really the good angel and that some imposter--not the creator--flung him down from heaven, and ever since, things have been wrong. The new uprising overthrows the imposter and all the tyrannical, oppressive followers of that imposter, and then we start again in the garden, and instead of a serpent we have a scientist and other loving creatures who help the new Adam and Eve into truth and understanding and responsibility.

But the new Adam and Eve have to pay a price in order to help their respective worlds to succeed.

And Dust is consciousness--or understanding--which you have as an adult, but which the Church tried to prevent the people from having by severing their daemons from them before they settled. The Church saw Dust as something dangerous, but Asriel and Dr. Malone and so many others realized that without Dust the worlds would wither and die. 

Both The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife were FAST reads full of intrigue and delightful creativity. The Amber Spyglass was equally delightful in the amazingly creative worlds and inhabitants, but much more slowly paced. Over all, I highly recommend the entire trilogy.