The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

I know I’m late to the starting line on this series but my gosh, I’m glad I’ve started it! After starting to watch His Dark Materials on the TV and seeing all the buzz over Volume Two in this series, I felt this was the perfect book to read between Christmas and New Year.

This particular book is set prior to His Dark Materials and tells the story of Lyra as a baby (FYI for those who haven’t read/watched His Dark Materials – Lyra is a very important character as a prophecy surrounds her). Told mostly from Malcolm’s perspective, Pullman has introduced a whole new array of characters for his fans to fall in love with.

Malcolm is the hard working son of the Polstead’s; who own The Trout Inn, which sits opposite St Rosamund’s – a priory. He’s helpful, smart and inquisitive; which makes him a likeable main character to readers, whilst also giving him the qualities to survive the adventures that fate holds for him.

His pocket money goes towards the upkeep of his prized possession: La Belle Sauvage; a canoe that lets him explore the world around him, and is of great importance to the second half of this story.

Dr Hannah Relf is another key POV in this tale as she brings the link to the organisations that are fighting the Magisterium and what’s even more special about her is her research… she’s studying alethiometers!

I’ve always wanted to say this phrase: “this was a tale of two halves”, and I’ve finally found a book that it works perfectly with! In the first half of this story, the focus is heavily on the every day fight against the Magisterium and understanding the new characters; whilst the second part is a thrilling adventure with danger and challenges at every turn. For me, the shift felt as if we were moving from theory to practice.

Dæmons are my favourite aspect of Pullman’s world, they add such a charming addition to the pages and bring a lightness to a deep and complex plot; and within this tale I adored the interactions of Malcom and Lyra’s dæmons.

The uniqueness of Pullman’s style is in his ability to let a story touch so many generations and an array of personalities. You can enjoy this book for the philosophical topics it raises, the social and government matters it explores, the fantasy world it takes you to… or like me just because it’s a great story.

La Belle Sauvage is out now in paperback version now, and if you’re ahead of me The Secret Commonwealth is currently at a great discounted price on Amazon! I am holding off until the paperback comes out in June as I want my set to be consistent 🙂

Until next time, Chloé x

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