Book Reviews 2005 (57)

Our fifty-seventh book of the year is the second in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy, The Subtle Knife.

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2)
Clearly a continuation from the first novel, The Golden Compass (reviewed recently as Book 49 of the year), The Subtle Knife is not really a stand-alone book, even as it introduces new characters and plots to Pullman’s universe. Will Parry is a youth troubled and under as much threat as Lyra, and finds his way to Citagazze just as she does.
In the meantime, other forces are still at work, seeking to find and control Lyra, or for purposes which, opaque in the Golden Compass, become a little more clear, even if the “how” is not as clear as the “what”. Revelations about what destiny may have for Lyra as well illustrate and describe more of the Miltonian themes that Pullman is employing in this series.
As a stand alone book, The Subtle Knife (named for a powerful artifact that can cut anything, including ways between worlds) fails. In conjunction with its predecessor, it holds up far better, and should not be read without reading the first.
Recommended, but only for those who have already read and enjoyed The Golden Compass.