The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two (Book of Dust 2) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2019/10/3
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The Secret Commonwealth is ablaze with light and life. The writing is exquisite; every sentence sings ... To read Pullman is to experience the world refreshed, aglow, in Technicolour (Independent)
Lyra is all grown up in a rich, vivid sequel (Telegraph)
Engrossing (Financial Times)
Pullman's story is still thought-provoking ... This book elegantly weaves in live issues, from Europe's refugee crisis to facts in the post-truth era. And Pullman's prose is rewarding as ever (The Times)
The novel gallops forward, full of danger, delight and surprise. Nearly miraculous, it seems, is Pullman's ability to sketch character, place and motive in just a few lines (New Statesman)
A long, taxing, complex journey, laced with beauty, terror and philosophy (Metro)
As ever, Pullman's story is complex and vast but home to some of the finest storytelling in the 21st century. Revel in whole new worlds and enjoy one of literature's most wonderful heroines before she comes to HBO and the BBC (Stylist)
Pullman is confronting readers with the horrors of our own world reflected back at us. In The Secret Commonwealth he creates a fearful symmetry (The Herald)
Pullman has created a fantasy world, made yet more satisfying in this new volume. This is a book for getting older with (Guardian)
Philip Pullman (Author)
Philip Pullman is one of the most highly respected children's authors writing today. Winner of many prestigious awards, including the Carnegie of Carnegies and the Whitbread Award, Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials has been acclaimed as a modern classic. It has sold 17.5 million copies worldwide and been translated into 40 languages. In 2005 he was awarded the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. He lives in Oxford.
Christopher Wormell (Illustrator)
Chris Wormell is an award-winning, well-loved illustrator and storyteller. Most recently, he has illustrated the cover of Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust, and has lent his woodcut style to Dinosaurium. Chris has created many award-winning books, including Molly and the Night Monster (shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal), Two Frogs (winner of the Nestlé Bronze Award), and One Smart Fish (winner of the Booktrust Early Years Awards Best Picture Book). His books include the much-loved George and the Dragon and also Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice (winner of the Children's Book Award).
Content wise (which is what should matter for a book rating 🙄), the first volume was completely absorbing, and a welcome reentry to the world I loved as a kid. Can't wait to read the next one.
This is a really hard review for me to write because I was looking forward to this book so much. I loved His Dark Materials as a teen and, although I was disappointed by La Belle Sauvage, I was excited to find out what Lyra was like as an adult. However, the result wasn't entirely satisfying.
While it was nice to revisit Lyra's Oxford once again, my biggest problem with The Secret Commonwealth was its length. This novel pushes 700 pages in length and it certainly felt it. While the early chapters, in which Lyra and Pan investigated a murder, were gripping, the novel soon began to get bogged down. While the previous novels all contained complex themes, The Secret Commonwealth is the first that I would say is probably too complex for younger readers. The novel has no characters under the age of twenty this time around, and the dialogue contains some stark criticism of organised religion, politics and philosophy that often touches close to real life events.
The novel also contains some very adult incidents. While the earlier novels could be violent and frightening in places, this novel was just dark. The worse violence in the story is almost exclusively focused on female characters, who are still largely seem to be a lot weaker and less effectual than their male counterparts. Once act of violence against a primary character towards the end of the novel left a particularly bad taste in my mouth as it was gratuitous and used purely for shock value, adding nothing to the character's development.
The novel flips between the third person perspectives four primary protagonists - Lyra Silvertongue, Pantalaimon, Malcolm Polstead and Olivier Bonneville - with occasional chapters that focus on other secondary characters. As with previous instalments, I personally felt that this was to much. The focus jumped around a lot, giving us glimpses into the characters at different points in their journeys with no true sense of the passage of time. None of the these stories received any degree of closure, which brings me to another problem. The Secret Commonwealth is a middle novel of the worst kind, acting as an extended build up to the final act. While characters are moved into position, no plots are tied up and the novel ends with a horrible cliffhanger, cutting off the action in mid-flow and raising many questions without answering any.
In terms of characterisation, I was also left a bit underwhelmed. The Lyra of this story is a pale shadow of what she once was and just seems ordinary. Gone is her confidence and ability to lie, apparently swallowed by her newfound interest in philosophy, although I never truly felt this in the story. While Lyra did get some of this back as the story progressed, she is still thoroughly dependant on others over the course of the story, particularly the male characters.
Pan also posed a problem. While he was more sympathetic than Lyra, I never really understood how their hatred of each other began and Pan's actions in the story make as little sense as Lyra's. He often seems to be spoiling for an argument, provoked by nothing, and he seems to vanish from the plot in its final act. Ultimately, I wasn't even sure where he was during the climax.
Malcolm's chapters are a little more interesting, as he seems a lot more in control than Lyra, though I did find his attraction to her a little unsettling. While I have no issue with the age gap (both are adults), the fact that he has known her from birth and seemed to have some attraction to her as an underage student made this very creepy. As with Pan, the final time we see Malcolm in the story also left his fate uncertain, which was most frustrating!
Beyond these three, the novel had a vast cast of secondary character across many different countries. Everywhere that Lyra and Malcolm travelled seemed to open up a new host of friends and foes, many of whom were brand new. This often made me have to flip backwards and forwards to remind myself who belonged to which faction and what their connections were, as many only existed as names and received little development as the story progressed.
So, all in all, I liked this book more than La Belle Sauvage but it still had many problems with pacing and characterisation. He's hoping that all of this build-up leads to a more satisfying finale!
The interesting inventions that overflowed in the previous books just aren't there. Where are the bears? Where are the witches? The mulefa? What happened after all the seismic changes in the first volumes? And the introduction of characters like Mozart and Napoleon - yes, honestly - don't sit well in a world that's supposed to have split off from our world several hundred years ago.
Part of the plot consists of an argument between two best-selling philosophers who have somewhat reductionist views of human life. Neither is described with any sort of detail, they're not very interesting, and I really can't work out what purpose they serve. I suppose the intention was to satirise some current debates - or maybe to revert to Gulliver's discovery of the big-enders and little-enders - but the satire lacks bite.
I'll finish it, of course; just as I used to finish my vegetables. But I doubt I'll enjoy it or even remember what it was all about.
To say I am disappointed in this book is a huge understatement. If you are a fan of His Dark Materials no doubt you have already read this but WITH SOME DEGREE OF SPOILER i will try and outline now why it has upset me so much. It started well enough with a little bit of intrigue. Lyra is not nearly as compelling to read as an adult and her relationship with Pan is upsetting. The events of His Dark Materials also seem to have had a bizarrely immaterial effect on the world when one consides the magisterium was on the loosing side of a rather massive conflict. And a quarter of the way through the book Pullman slaps you in the face: crowbarring awkwardly and unnecessarily a 'love' story between characters that is as inappropriate, creepy and morally repugnant as it is a total betrayal of a character's former good nature who was much loved by me before this novel. And leaving me wanting that character to die a profoundly noble death at the earliest opportunity so he might be forgiven for his lecherous sniffing. So profoundly shocking was this ridiculous writing decision that I felt like putting my kindle down and not reading more. The book then progressively turns into a more and more extraordinarily boring snorefest of one irritating nothing after another - with absolutely no imperative whatsoever driving the reader to turn the pages and read on to the end.
The story is a nonsensical mishmash of odd encounters and ideas with no substantive overarching gripping plot. Very few likeable or even very believable characters - adult versions of formerly child characters now dull stereotypes. What can only be described as gratuitous use of threat of, and actual, sexual violence was as insensitively written as it was irrelevant and unjustified in narrative terms, whilst being extraordinarily distressing to the reader. And along with a feeling that the author arbitrarily and morbidly wished to focus on sinister threats the context and subsequent narrative came off as being both misogynistic and culturally offensive or racist etc.
I read La Belle Sauvage in a night. This book was a grinding mission that took me several hateful days to wade through. Even the end of the book - with the exception of a couple of sections back in Oxford - was thoroughly dull. Excruciatingly dull.
My wife finished it before me and we agreed (as did friends of hers) on the above points made.
Read His Dark Materials, and read La Belle Sauvage - and if after that you have fallen in love with the characters therein: LEAVE THIS BOOK WELL ALONE.
I am returning the hardback copy for a refund - we do not want a keepsake of this horrific failure. In fact, I am seeing a hypnotherapist to see if the memory of it can be substantively repressed.
I did turn the pages, of course, in the hope that something interesting would be over-leaf but it seldom was and I lost the will to live long before the end.
As for people here praising the writing, I can't think what sort of things they must be reading.
To me the writing is humdrum, without much spark or wit.
I want a work of fiction to have me riveted. To find that hours have flown by and it won't be too long before I have to get up.
I can think of any number of authors to whom that applies, even in some of their books that I don't rate too highly. And many make profound points, as well as entertain.
I'm struggling to think why the author bothered. The reasons can't surely be financial so if it's social commentary he's wanting to make, why not just come out and make it without fictionalising in such a long, drawn out fashion..
I'm also at a loss as to how professional reviewers can be so full of praise. Perhaps they're unable to see profundity in the real world and have to look for it elsewhere.
Lyra's character has changed so significantly that it is impossible to recognise in her the child she once was. This would be fine if her character was properly developed, but this Lyra is almost 2 dimensional.
The other characters range from pantomime villain to forgettable raconteurs. None are given any depth or a unique voice. It's possible that they will be further developed in the next book, but for now I almost needed to write a dramatis personae to keep them apart.
Finally, the writing style is nowhere near as engaging and tight as in previous Pullman books. It almost feels as if the Editor was on holiday and the book went straight to print without refinement.
Overall a disappointing offer after a 2 year wait. Now instead of looking forward to the next release, I am dreading the decision on whether to stay with it to the bitter end or abandon the series now as a lost cause.
The plot itself is complex with many parallel strands but Philip Pullman manages to allow one to follow all of them simultaneously with difficulty. Lyra has matured but lost none of her courage or moral strength. The only thing that left me unsatisfied (as the author intends) is the cliff-hanger ending and I shall be fidgeting for volume three.
This lends this book an altogether more adult tone, especially whence considers events toward the end of it. But it works, beautifully. The world the now young adult Lyra finds herself in is more complex than she realises, and altogether more dangerous. However, also doesn't realise who all of her friends are, nor the depth of their feelings for her. She is exploring the world with eyes very different tot he last time we encountered her. She is more learned, to be sure, but more hestiant, more cautious, and more troubled, as her strained relationship with her daemon shows. This relationship reaches breaking point, and she has to enlist the help of old friends to try and do something about it.
It'a a world not dissimilar to our own, without theological strife, radicalism, refugee crises and political intrigues. it even manages to subtly and cleverly call back material used in book site Lyra's Oxford, published in 2003. It's clear then that she of this story has been in the planning for a very long time indeed, and it's all the richer for it. It does also manage to push into some rather deep philosophical waters won the nature of being, the post-truth world, and the power of stories, and what makes us all human. These are the parts I think I need to give another pass to enjoy them even more.
I read it over the course of yesterday, and now intend to go back and read it more closely again because I think there are other, richer levels to be found on repeated inspection.
I loved His Dark Materials, and this book pushes the story on to new heights. It adds a richness and a depth to that world, and makes me want to know what happens next so very much. I cannot wait, though I know I''ll have to.
This is the Hobbit unnecessarily made into a film in two parts - it comes to an incomplete ending; an abrupt stop that has insufficient drama to be called a cliffhanger but feels more like a tour guide demanding extra to show you the way back. Why sell two when you can sell three? Thanks
I loved the BoD 1 - thought is was a brilliant backstory to HDM; this? Not so much.
I thought the author needed to do more work to make it believable that the Lyra we left at the end of the Amber Spyglass - having just personally travelled through the multiverse and the world of the dead and fought angels and witnessed the death of the Authority - has morphed into a rationalist materialist sceptic, apparently because she read a fashionable novel.
Did the adolescent Lyra tell the Master about her experiences, or Hannah Relf? Did they believe her? Did she talk to any scholars studying Rusakov particles? Was she able to tell them anything they found useful? Why has Serafina not checked in on her in the last decade? For both Lyra herself and the wider world, it feels curiously almost as if the events of the first trilogy never happened.
All that said, the story works well enough on its own terms. It kept my attention to the end - when you realise, after 700 pages, that nothing much has happened except setting the stage for the final instalment. I'll read that when it comes out, but with less of a sense of anticipation than I read this one.
I have to admit i was a little worried about a fifth of the way in that it loses pace a little but my god does it pick it up again. And theres not one cliff hanger theres about 20! Absolutely brilliant sense of place especially in Europe and the Middle East, its so great to see more of the world of Lyras Oxford and to meet so many new and interesting characters (perhaps a few too many if im being picky). Honestly i cant wait for the next book. HURRY UP!!
In keeping with Belle Sauvage and the Dark Materials trilogy there is nothing fluffy or whimsical about Lyra's world. Just like ours it is a place where acts of horror can be perfectly legal, where money makes the rules, and where unscrupulous people can shape circumstances to their own liking no matter the consequences. Just like our world children and other vulnerable souls suffer for the gratification of immoral people with power.
His characters are wonderful, his descriptions immediate, the plot has circles within circles where the smallest act by the least person can have unimaginable results.
It is a joy from beginning to end and I already look forward eagerly to the final part of the story.
It starts with an 'incident' and has all the hallmarks of an exciting story. Lyra sets off on a journey in search of things and the entire book describes the journey in great detail. Obviously a few things happen on the way but very little of importance.
If someone were to write a couple of paragraphs summarizing everything you need to know you could skip this book and move straight to part 3 when it is published.