21 November 2007

The Subtle Knife

The second book is slightly shorter than the first, and Pullman is much more adept at drawing out the tension. The cavalry doesn't always make it in time.

We add a second major character, Will Parry, from the "real" world, rather than from Lyra's world. Will's daemon is on the inside. He's a fiercely protective survivor, who cares too much for his own good, and who seems to have a grand destiny before him. He's to wield the Subtle Knife, that can cut through anything, no matter how hard or insubstantial, and find a chink in anything, no matter how small.

We learn some more about Dust, and angels, and 'The Authority,' but I'd rather wait to say much on them until I've finished the third book. I wouldn't describe the book as anti-religious. It's exploring a fairly common theme, that the rebellion in heaven was a good thing, and that the only pity was that it did not succeed outright. Irreverent? Sure. Sacrilegious...maybe, depending on your POV. I'm still not entirely sure where Pullman is going with this, but the reason involves a spoiler from the first book, so I'll camouflage it for those who don't want to read it. Highlight it if you do.

At the end of The Golden Compass, Lord Asriel killed Lyra's friend Roger to open the doorways between the worlds. There does not seem to be any mitigating factor here, and I'm not swayed by the "casualty of war" argument, that it was necessary for Asriel to fight the battle he has to fight. It was a despicable action. The odd thing thusfar is that, in every other light, Asriel seems to be portrayed as "the good guy." So... I'm confused. Presumably the third book will shed some light on this. If not, you'll be subject to a rant when I've finished it.

Overall, though, highly recommended. The first book was good, and this one was even better.

1 comment:

Qalmlea said...

HA! Finally found the right RGB code to make the spoiler nearly invisible! Obvious note: none of blogger's built-in colors work. I had to go into paint, use the eyedropper to suck up the background color, and see what it's RGB was. *grins*