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Reviews Comments: A Downhill Slide His Dark Materials film/book review by mionenoelle

I have conflicted feelings about His Dark Materials. The first book showed Pullman in fine form. There was some seriously amazing world-building, nuanced characters, and thrilling conflicts. The second was a step-down since Pullman's problematic introduction of his religious views begins here. This is also where I lose all sympathy for Lyra and her entitled demands and begin to feel sorry for Mrs. Coulter (although I do get that Mrs. Coulter really is supposed to be a sympathetic character, so kudos to you, Mr. Pullman).

The third, the Amber Spyglass, is horrible. Plot and characterization are sacrificed just so Pullman could write about his philosophy and rant against the institutionalization of God. This could've been done more subtly, but his writing was so ham-handed in the third book that I write this series off as one that started great and ended horribly.

I don't have a problem with Pullman's religious views. HDM is his series and he's free to introduce whatever he wants. I just wish he could've streamlined his views with his writing. My problem with the series was how it turned from suspenseful and thrilling to sermonizing and, well, dull. His Dark Materials is an ambitious series that ultimately fails because it tries too hard to be universal (it's not). I know that a lot of people like the entire series, even the third book, and I respect that. As for me, I'd like to pretend that HDM stopped at Golden Compass and ended at a cliffhanger.


  • Mullerornis
  • 18th Jun 11
I would largely agree in respect to the very last part of the triology. The second book was far more about adventure than religious themes.
  • TheGovernment
  • 20th Sep 11
Completely agreed, by the end of the book Pullman preached more against the church than C.S.Lewis did for God in Narnia. Things would've stayed okay if he kept to the story rather than turning the whole thing into a bitter Aesop against Catholics.
  • KlarkKentThe3rd
  • 3rd Oct 11
Naaaaah.... they just grew.

Lyra at the end of book 3 was not the same as Lyra at the beginning of book 1.
  • fenrisulfur
  • 1st Nov 12
He could have done the anti catholic thing better if he spread all that material across Subtle Knife AND Spyglass, rather than stuff it all in one book.

  • JobanGrayskull
  • 1st Nov 12
I agree at least about the third book. I thought the entire series was kind of disjointed, but it was especially apparent there. It's been several years since I've read them so I may be due for a re-read.
  • maninahat
  • 2nd Nov 12
Both he and CS Lewis are clumsy children's writers, but I think the second book in HDM found the right balance. Pullman's writing had matured, with Will being a more grounded, relatable character and the villains and adventures better realized. In Amber, he just flew off the rails, attempting his own The Last Battle.
  • Peryton
  • 21st Nov 12
I am quite sick of imbeciles who always decry atheist works as "non-subtle".

While Pullman went overboard in the last book (the pedo preist didn't need to be there, for starters), he didn't sacrifice the plot. The story is still decently constructed, and tracts are not shoved.

Honestly, it's like christians have an in-built piss panties mechanism when something dares to point out logical problems.
  • fenrisulfur
  • 21st Nov 12
He made the jump from ethereal creatures somehow connected to a person, called "daemons," to ethereal creatures that kill adults, called specters, to Angels showing up. The entire series may have subtlety, but Spyglass isn't subtle compared to the other two books.
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 22nd Nov 12
I would hesitate to criticise anyone who describes a book which actually kills God as 'non-subtle'. I'm just saying I'm not convinced that#s necessarily got a lot of interpretations and is a reference that probably won't go above many heads. Also when you structure the whole last of your story around it and a girl eating an _ahem_ apple it#s also fair to say that the purposes of the story are being bent towards a certain message that the author might be trying to convey.

I've gone round the block with this one. At first it confused me that someone would read a book series, have a negative experience and then try to recreate that negative experience for a different set of people instead of trying to solve the problem. So yeah I had almost exactly the experience that Phillip Pullman described. At first I loved it, then I got a bit older and understood it better and hated it. I managed to go a step further though and decide that in the end it's just someones opinions and since I didn't find the arguments particularly shaking I could just read and enjoy the story.

I've reread them less than other books but that's just because they're a bit wordy and used mystery as one of the main motivating drives of the author.

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