I’m Excited

It has come to my attention that Phillip Pullman is going to release a new trilogy to accompany his Dark Materials, and I am officially excited to take a look at them. There will be one prequel to the series, set when Lyra was an infant, and two sequels, which follow Lyra as a young woman.

I remember reading that Trilogy for the first time at 14, and being sucked into Lyra’s world from the start. I also remember not liking the sappy tone of the last quarter of the third book, disliking the way he left things, so I very much want to see how he proceeds with the story. I also remember rereading the books as an adult, and picking up a whole lot more of his parallels to, and fierce criticisms of institutionalized religion, which made me appreciate how his books could appeal to a very wide range of ages.

I have heard people speak of Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials in very different ways. I have heard his treatment of religion in his books characterized as too harsh, as too pro-religion falling just short of C. S. Lewis, and others who missed the parallels he draws altogether, finding the books to be simply a fun fantasy story.

The last quote from Phillip Pullman in the article is indicative of the fact that he too is somewhere in the middle with his views on religion.

My attitude to religion is that religion is a most interesting and extraordinary human phenomenon. I’m fascinated by it, interested in it, and at some points critical of it. And the points when I become critical are the points when politics come into it, and religion acquires political power — political with a small “p,” for example, within the confines of a single family, or Political with a large “P,” on a national or international scale.

When religion gets the power to tell people how to dress, who to fall in love with, how to behave, what they must not read, what they must not wear, all those things, then religion goes bad. … Religion is private thing, and a fine thing and a good thing, as long as it remains private. As soon as it becomes public and political, it’s dangerous. That’s the position I’ve taken up in the first series and the position this current one takes up as well.

While I might disagree with his characterization of religion as a “good thing” even when it is private, on the whole I agree that religion’s habit of intertwining with politics and dictating people’s lives is by far the bigger problem. Regardless, I intend on reading his new books, though when I’ll find the time to fit them into my life remains to be seen.

I bring this up, partially to express my enthusiasm for new fantasy books, but also because I am curious about the FtB’s reception of his Dark Materials. My question to you is, have you read them? And if so, what was your impression of them?


  1. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    It’s hard to believe it’s been over twenty years since they first came out.
    I was over 40 years old when I first read them and mostly wanted to smack Lyra upside the head. Will Parry, too.
    I didn’t particularly like the books on the first read but was sufficiently impressed to re-read them a couple of years later.
    I enjoyed them that time and subsequent readings.

    • thoughtsofcrys says

      I never saw the movie, but then again I generally avoid movies of books I have enjoyed, especially if the books were long and intricate in detail, I’ll always find the movies a bit flat.

  2. says

    I didn’t care for HDM, at least not the last two books. I would not say that the problem was that they were harsh, but rather that they were very heavy-handed. If some people say they don’t like it both because he’s too harsh on religion, and others because he’s too soft, I believe that both of those reactions are symptomatic of an author who pushes a specific worldview too hard. At least for some tastes.

    I read the trilogy in college, when I was old enough to see what Pullman was doing. I think if I read them at a younger age, a lot of it would have gone over my head.

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