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His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

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His Dark Materials — Book I: The Golden Compass; Book II: The Subtle Knife; Book III: The Amber Spyglass.

This has been a wonderful adventure fabricated with bits and pieces of popular lore from everywhere. My short description, for people who have been asking me when they see me toting the books around under my arm in the last few weeks, has been: "it's like Harry Potter, but MUCH MUCH MUCH better." It's much richer, more diverse, more complex in the way of cultural elements, from MANY different cultures of the world, not just Anglo-Saxon and Greco-Roman.

At first, I thought I just completely missed the ruckous it caused back in 1997/1998. There's noise about Harry Potter supposedly portraying witchcraft/occult in a positive light, but this series is very pointedly blasphemous. It's _very_clear_ to me what Philip Pullman is saying, there's nothing metaphoric or implied about it. I find it an altogether fascinating point of view.

But in reading online commentaries on this, it sounds as though the Christian community have redrawn the fence to a spot where they like it... ie. "it's not really saying what it's saying." *eyeroll* Whatever it takes for you to be able to admit it's a good story, I guess.

Everything in this series is incredibly well put together. Good and evil have depth and complexity as they should. I thought the hat-tip to the subject of homosexuality was very graceful. Overall, it's still light and fantasy-fairytale-like with powerful moments of realization, moments of fear, pain, despair, hope, joy, serenity and everything you'd want in a coming-of-age story.

I can't decide whether to look forward to the movie adaptation slated for release in 2007. I know how movie adaptations of books go... But I'm pleased that they might still retain what I consider an INTEGRAL part of the original plot as ferociously controversial as it's bound to be.

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
ducks
Aug. 2nd, 2005 10:26 pm (UTC)
Which book would you start with?
bride
Aug. 2nd, 2005 10:34 pm (UTC)
"The Golden Compass" is Book I. "The Subtle Knife" is II and "The Amber Spyglass" is III. "Lyra's Oxford" is like an Epilogue/supplementary book with extras and goodies =)

And there's talk of a fourth book in the series called The Book of Dust =)
(Deleted comment)
bride
Aug. 3rd, 2005 02:44 am (UTC)
Definitely worth a re-read =)
grey_archangel
Aug. 3rd, 2005 02:31 am (UTC)
I've read the series before. My favorite was "The Subtle Knife". :)

Also - I have the same opinions about the movie as you.
bride
Aug. 3rd, 2005 02:38 am (UTC)
Hehe, before I found out how to pronounce that, I was saying "Ass Hatter" in my head XD
bokane
Aug. 3rd, 2005 02:32 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed the series -- though I don't think I'd say that it's necessarily blasphemous, per se. Anti-Church, yes...it draws very heavily on William Blake's idea of the Usurper God, and on John Milton, but it's also set up in many ways as the anti-Narnia. That's what I thought of when I read it, at least; both books start in a professor's house, but where C.S. Lewis is informed by his Christianity, which underlies all the Narnia books, Pullman's series is, you know, not.
bride
Aug. 3rd, 2005 02:44 am (UTC)
I don't think I'd say that it's necessarily blasphemous, per se.

You're right, I must have misunderstood the word "blasphemous" to mean "anti-Church" or "anti-God"... which is how it's usually used.
yueni
Aug. 3rd, 2005 04:49 am (UTC)
Pullman's HDM series is quite probably hands down my favourite "fantasy" series. The Golden Compass made me cry buckets, and I don't ordinarily get teary eyed reading anything.

I'm holding judgement on the movies until they come out. I'm not quite sure how well they can deal with it and everything that embodies HDM and not piss off half the Christian right.
bride
Aug. 3rd, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC)
I'm holding judgement on the movies until they come out.

Good plan. Movies can go either way sometimes. =}

I'm not quite sure how well they can deal with it and everything that embodies HDM and not piss off half the Christian right.

In my more belligerent days, I hope they take that risk. Because if your faith is causing you to think that "we're right and everyone else is wrong, no exceptions, not listening, la-la-la", then there's something FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG with the basis of that religion.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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