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Book review

La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)
Read date: Feb 2019

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Philip Pullman is back, and it’s awesome! I read the original Pullman books when they first came out, but not since then, which means my memories of them are vague, and probably influenced by the movie (which was good, but the Armoured Bears and Zepplins of my imagination were way cooler).

La Belle Sauvage fairly rips along – I was gripped from the start, and found myself unable to put it down at various crucial junctures of the storyline. It centres around Malcolm, the young son of the owners of an inn to the north of Oxford, and you also meet some of the other characters from the series, such as Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter, although they play much smaller parts. I won’t give too many plot details because, spoilers, but I loved it all. It ends at a logical point, but as it’s the first in a trilogy, one is definitely left in anticipation of the next one, if only to enter the magical world once more.

This book is set in the same world as The Amber Spyglass series, but ten years earlier, with Lyra as a little baby. Malcolm is a young adult, and the writing in this book is straightforward and accessible. I’m sure this book would be enjoyed by younger people – my kids at that age would have loved it – but as with the other books in the sequence, it’s by no means YA fiction, with some complex themes opened up, and Pullman’s characteristically dark views of the established church firmly on display.

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