Book Review: His Dark Materials

Just a warning here – this review will probably have some spoilers. I don’t feel like I can give a good spoiler-free review of the His Dark Materials series. I just want to talk about it all!

Northern Lights
Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half-wild and carefree among scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans reign and ice-bears fight. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world…

The Subtle Knife
What is he? A friend or an enemy? He is a murderer. Will has just killed a man. He’s on the run. His escape will take him far beyond his own world, to the eerie disquiet of a deserted city, and to a girl, Lyra. Her fate is strangely linked to his own, and together they must find the most powerful weapon in all the worlds…

The Amber Spyglass
Will and Lyra, whose fates are bound together by powers beyond their own worlds, have been violently separated. But they must find each other, for ahead of them lies the greatest war that has ever been – and a journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned.

My Thoughts:

Okay so after reading each book I jotted down some notes for myself and these are the things that really stood out to me.

The world that these books are set in was fascinating, and I just loved how detailed it was. I think I was hooked after just a few chapters, and I couldn’t wait to find out more about Lyra, Lord Asriel and all that was happening in the world.

First thing that really drew me in? The thought of having a daemon! I mean, it’s kind of like having a pet, only that animal is a real part of you and shares your thoughts and feelings. How awesome would that be?! You would always have someone (or thing, I guess) there for you! Anyway, to begin with I guess Northern Lights started at quite a slow pace, although it didn’t feel like it at the time. We got some background information about Lyra’s world, but I wanted to know more about Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter especially. There’s obviously some mystery there,and I loved it because I felt like I was with Lyra – searching for information and looking to learn more all the time. The second half of the book really picked up, and it was pretty jam packed with action! Iorek Byrnison was awesome, and I loved how Lyra had others helping her in the mission she had. The fact that Iorek was polar bear just added to magic of the story. I really enjoyed the whole story with the polar bears and their community, and I think it added depth to Iorek’s character. The Aleithiometer was also pretty cool. Just the whole idea of it – a device which you can use to find out the truth? Awesome!

Onto the Subtle Knife, the addition of Will was intriguing. Who was he, and what did he have to do with Lyra and her world? We see that Will is from a different world altogether, though my first thoughts were that Will’s world was the future to Lyra’s world. I don’t know how that would work, but hey, it’s magic! They both lived in Oxford, and once Lyra had visited Will’s world she noticed that some places were the same as hers. This isn’t really the case though, as we find out that there a lots of different worlds co-existing. I loved the relationship between Lyra and Will. It wasn’t perfect and I sort of saw them as having more of a sibling relationship. You’ll do things for them, even if you don’t agree all the time or they annoy you. They were fun to read. It’s around half way through the book when we discover what exactly the Subtle Knife is, and of course it has to do with being able to travel between worlds. There’s some good story behind it, although I would have liked just a little bit more about it’s history.

And finally, The Amber Spyglass. The size of the book was a little scary – not gonna lie! I didn’t read these three books straight after each other, and read a few different genres in between so I thought it was a great sign that I was immediately hooked back into the world as soon as I started reading again. My favourite part about this book was all the different worlds we were introduced to. We followed a few different people who were each in different worlds, but because of all the description, it wasn’t confusing at all! Lyra has changed in this book, and she’s pretty dependent on Will throughout the story. This had me in two minds. I loved to see their relationship to grow, but then I kind of missed the strong, fiery Lyra from the first book! The Gallivespians also had me in two minds. I didn’t really trust them for most of the book. The secrecy is what had me. Oh, and Mrs Coulter too! I don’t believe a character can change so much. I was never sure who’s side she was supposed to be on.

The ending of the books was bittersweet. I felt kind of sad that it had ended, and with what happened, but it was happy too. All in all, I really enjoyed this series and now I want to watch The Golden Compass! I saw it when it first came out but couldn’t remember anything.

My Rating: To see my book review rating guide click here.

  • Saoirse T. E. Sterling

    The film of the first book (named after the American version which is really annoying) was great, but after a protest from the Catholic Church (because Daemons are basically your soul) the rest of the films were scrapped, which is extremely sad because it was actually very good, especially the fight between the armoured bears. Probably the best part of a film I’ve seen for a long time. This was one of the few books/series that, after re-reading in my adult years, I feel I enjoyed as much-if not more-as I did when I was younger. I agree with pretty much everything you said, and think it’s one of the few children’s book that are suited very well for adults.

    I’ve never read his Sally Lockhart series (or any others), but I saw an episode of the TV adaptation and am now looking to read them as they seem very intriguing. Have you read anything else he’s written?

    • admin

      Yeah, the name change really confused me when I was looking at the books before reading!
      Oh, I didn’t know that! I knew that only the first book was adapted into a film, but I just figured that it hadn’t been loved enough to warrant doing the others! Disappointing the hear the actual reason!
      I haven’t read anything else of his, and I don’t really know much about his other work to be honest! Will definitely check those out though! Thanks (:

    • admin

      Yeah, the name change really confused me when I was looking at the books before reading!

      Oh, I didn’t know that! I knew that only the first book was adapted into a film, but I just figured that it hadn’t been loved enough to warrant doing the others! Disappointing the hear the actual reason!

      I haven’t read anything else of his, and I don’t really know much about his other work to be honest! Will definitely check those out though! Thanks (: