The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman | Book Review
Updated: Apr 2, 2021
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The war grows ever closer as angels and creatures from all the worlds gather to each side to fight for what they believe in. God, or man. Tasked by his father to join Lord Asriel in his war, Will refuses to join until he finds Lyra. With the guidance of two angels, he races to rescue Lyra who lays in a drugged sleep, balancing between the worlds of the living and the dead. It is in this drugged sleep Lyra finds her departed friend, Roger. She swears she will find him again once she wakes. As Will and Lyra are reunited, they will travel through worlds once more, this time on a quest to save the dead.
Will and Lyra are the best characters in this trilogy. When they are on the page, it is guaranteed that the reader will be entertained. Having watched them grow throughout the trilogy, you can see how their previous choices have formed the people they are by the end. And despite the growing odds against them, they don’t give up. They always think outside the box and maintain that childhood innocence that makes them believe anything is possible. Even in their darkest moments, they know that if the two of them are together, there will be a light at the end.
While Will and Lyra carried the main plot, I was surprised at the amount of filler the subplots had. Mary’s story arc didn’t even make sense to me. While it might have been interesting that she journeyed to a new world and made friends with the inhabitants, I couldn’t help but wonder what the point was. The events that happened could have easily been summed up in a lesser quantity to tighten the storyline and not lose sight of the main plot. In fact, the namesake the book’s title takes after seemed to be dropped in. It wasn’t significant like we’ve seen the golden compass (alethiometer) and the subtle knife. I have a feeling there was hidden symbolism that I missed.
There was also an attempt at a redemption arc for some characters, but after watching one pull apart a living creature for fun that redemption fell short. And I was surprised when the main plot ended, and I saw that I had a decent chunk of pages left. Admittedly the conclusion came faster than expected and was anticlimactic, but I didn’t expect the story to continue for so long. I have a feeling Pullman wanted to add in more connections to religion and lost sight of his story’s vision. I’m sad to say, I didn’t like this conclusion. The first two books were amazing, but this one seemed forced.
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Interested in what I though about those first two books? Check out the book reviews!