Summary and book reviews of The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

The Book of Dust #1

by Philip Pullman

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman X
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
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  • Published:
    Oct 2017, 464 pages

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Book Summary

The much-anticipated new work from the author of The Golden Compass is coming at last!

Renowned storyteller Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of Lyra Belacqua and His Dark Materials for a thrilling and epic adventure in which daemons, alethiometers, and the Magisterium all play a part.

The Book of Dust will be a work in three parts, like His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass). The book is set ten years before The Golden Compass and centers on the much-loved character Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon.

Philip Pullman offers these tantalizing details: "I've always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College, and in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she's grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra's life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her twenty years later. As for the third and final part, my lips are sealed.

"So, second: is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? It's neither. In fact, The Book of Dust is ... an 'equel.' It doesn't stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It's a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognize, and characters they've met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have glimpsed in an earlier part of Lyra's story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.

"Third: why return to Lyra's world? Dust. Questions about that mysterious and troubling substance were already causing strife ten years before His Dark Materials, and at the center of The Book of Dust is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organization, which wants to stifle speculation and inquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free. The idea of Dust suffused His Dark Materials. Little by little through that story the idea of what Dust was became clearer and clearer, but I always wanted to return to it and discover more."

The books of the His Dark Materials trilogy were showered with praise, and the Cincinnati Enquirer proclaimed, "Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century." With The Book of Dust, Philip Pullman embarks on an equally grand adventure, sure to be hailed as the first great fantasy masterpiece of the twenty-first century.

Excerpt
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

Eleven-year-old Malcolm lives with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford, across the river Thames from Godstow Priory, where the nuns are looking after a special guest. One night his father comes to Malcolm's bedroom.


"Malcolm, you en't in bed yet—good. Come downstairs for a minute. There's a gentleman wants a word with you."

"Who is it?" said Malcolm eagerly, jumping up and following his father out.



"Keep your voice down. He'll tell you who he is if he wants to."

"Where is he?"

"In the Terrace Room. Take him a glass of Tokay."

"What's that?"

"Hungarian wine. Come on, hurry up. Mind your manners and tell the truth."

"I always do," said Malcolm automatically.

"News to me," said his father. But he ruffled Malcolm's hair before they entered the bar.

The gentleman waiting gave him a start, though all he was doing was sitting still by the cold fireplace. Perhaps it was his dæmon, a beautiful silvery ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Washington Post

The Book of Dust feels more earthbound — in the best way — than the earlier trilogy. The cosmic clockwork of His Dark Materials, with its multiverses and metaphysics, becomes grounded in this new novel... This is an alternate world where a clever boy reads both Stephen Hawking and Agatha Christie, and the first stirrings of sexual desire are as puzzling to him as the uncertainty principle. But there is plenty of magic here, too, not just daemons and startling prophecies but witches and specters, forays into Faerie, and Malcolm's eerie, migraine-like visions of the aurora borealis. Too few things in our own world are worth a 17-year-wait: The Book of Dust is one of them.

The Wall Street Journal

A phantasmagoric waterborne odyssey. Mr. Pullman is a supple and formidable writer.

Entertainment Weekly

Once again, Pullman’s fantasy arrives precisely when it can teach us the most about ourselves, as if it were guided by Dust itself.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This tense, adventure-packed book will satisfy and delight Pullman’s fans and leave them eager to see what’s yet to come.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Magisterial storytelling will sweep readers along; the cast is as vividly drawn as ever; and big themes running beneath the surface invite profound responses and reflection.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. Luminous prose, heady philosophical questions, and a lovable protagonist combine with a gripping plot sure to enchant fans and newcomers alike.

The Guardian (UK)

Philip Pullman is the living heir of Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald and, yes, CS Lewis – in spite of Lewis being his chief bugbear, whom he attacks furiously for his religiosity and misanthropy. While JK Rowling carried on the tradition of jolly school adventures and gripping supernatural yarns, he has chosen the pilgrim road of fantastic metaphysical allegory, and his new book nods to Spenser's The Faerie Queene in the same way as His Dark Materials took on Milton and Paradise Lost. In this longed-for opening volume of the new trilogy, Pullman faces his lineage without apology: his young heroine is even called Alice, and the story follows her as she is swept down the Thames in the eponymous canoe of the hero, Malcolm. But whereas the Thames offered Carroll's Alice an idyllic, pastoral meander, a very contemporary apocalypse explodes around this older Alice.

The Times (UK)

High-octane adventure accompanies ingenious plotting.

The Bookseller

Pullman’s imagery is as dazzling as ever. La Belle Sauvage reveals the incredible ways in which ‘ordinary’ children can react when placed in extraordinary circumstances: with kindness, bravery and cunning.

The Sunday Times (UK)

Full of acute observation. A rich, imaginative, vividly characterized rite-of-passage tale.

The Telegraph (UK)

Pullman is an easeful storyteller and an intricate and inventive world-builder, and everything he has to write is worth reading.

The Guardian (UK)

Pullman’s immense powers of kinesthetic visualization keep the story pulsing on an epic scale.

Financial Times (UK)

To connect once more with a fictional universe of such great power is a delight.

Author Blurb Siân Gaetano
The highly anticipated first book in the companion series to Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is out today, 17 years after The Amber Spyglass, the final book in the trilogy, was released. 'The [new] story begins before His Dark Materials and continues after it,' Pullman said on NPR's Morning Edition. 'You don't have to read it before you read [the original trilogy]... it's not a sequel, and it's not a prequel, it's an equel.' Equal indeed--the masterful writing, fantastic elements and heroic journey that made the first three books shine are in full force in La Belle Sauvage.

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