This is the second book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materialstrilogy and has such it does exist in that slightly awkward middle-book-between-the-beginning-and-the-end way. It starts though, in scenes that is as vivid a beginning as it’s predecessor, Northern Lights, the book introduces us to a story in an Oxford in our own universe rather than Lyra’s, but one with every bit the intrigue.
We cross between the worlds through windows made by subtle knife. For most of the story the it is part-quest (for Will’s father), part-treasure hunt (for the subtle knife), and part-revenge (to regain Lyra’s stolen alethiometer). All three of these parts are as action-filled and immediate to read as one another and every bit as a good as Northern Lights.
Running over the top of all the main story, much like the path of Lee Scoresby’s balloon is his story; of how he made it out of the first book, and met up with the witches, and how his story will unfold into the third book – and it is this part of the story that is less satisfactory to me. With the final few chapters concentrating on this too, I am left feeling slightly underwhelmed after such a brilliant starter and main course to the book! It still does manage, in the closing pages, manage to tease me on to the final book in the series.