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Literature / The Book of Dust

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The Book of Dust is a trilogy of Fantasy novels by Philip Pullman. It serves as both Prequel and Sequel to Pullman's His Dark Materials and features its main protagonist Lyra Silvertongue. Its first book, La Belle Sauvage, was released in October 2017 and takes place prior to His Dark Materials. The second, entitled The Secret Commonwealth, takes place after it, and will appear on October 3, 2019.


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  • Adult Fear: Malcolm disappears during a supernatural flood that's worse than anything his town has seen in the last 100 years, and knows exactly how awful it must be for his parents not to know what's happened to him.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: It's not clear exactly what is wrong with Gerard Bonneville, but it becomes obvious that he's deeply disturbed when he's seen attacking his own daemon.
  • Attempted Rape: Happens to Alice, at the hands of Gerard Bonneville.
  • Ax-Crazy: Bonneville.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Malcolm absolutely adores baby Lyra, to the point he would brave a flood for her sake.
  • Caper Rationalization: Malcolm and Alice discuss this when they break into a pharmacy during the flood to get supplies. They're effectively looting, but they need supplies for baby Lyra, and Malcolm leaves a note for the owner saying that they'll pay for the supplies and the damage they caused later on.
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  • The Casanova: Bonneville is a very dark version. He seems to be extremely talented at seducing women, including Alice and Sister Katarina, but he's also a violent rapist and a murderer with a justified reputation for violence against women.
  • The Cavalry: Lord Asriel coming to save Alice, Malcolm, and Lyra when La Belle Sauvage is about to be torn apart.
  • Child by Rape: Gerard Bonneville seems to be implying that this is how Lyra was conceived.
  • Church Police: the Consistorial Court of Discipline.
  • Culture Police: The League of St. Alexander.
  • Darker and Edgier: While His Dark Materials featured plenty of family-unfriendly fare, it was much more toned down than it is in this book. Among other things, in La Belle Sauvage characters have sex onscreen, Malcolm rescues Alice when the latter is being raped, Oakley Street is stated to be blackmailing someone with an interest in young boys and Lord Nugent apparently considers using Malcolm as bait, and the primary antagonist is a recently released sex offender who may have raped Mrs. Coulter.
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  • Department of Child Disservices: The Office of Child Protection is treated as one of these.
  • Dirty Business: Malcolm feels this way about killing Bonneville in self-defense, or so he thinks.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Hannah is very peeved when Lord Nugent suggests her to sabotage her academic career and reputation for the sake of her spying. She's also horrified when he plans to use her barely-teenage pupil Malcolm as bait for a high-placed paedo.
  • The Evils of Free Will: The woman who announces the League of St. Alexander's formation talks about laws being passed forcing everyone to convert to Christianity for their own good, and encourages the students at Ulvercote's to be like St. Alexander and turn in their friends, parents, and teachers if they so much as show signs of dissent.
  • The Fair Folk: Things get more mystical towards to end of the journey, with Fairys, unreal lands, and river demigods holding tridents making an appearance.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Malcolm starts quite annoyed by Alice, but the flood and Lyra's care forces them to work together.
  • The Heretic: Gerard Bonneville is an experimental theologian whose research on Dust is suppressed by the church.
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: Sister Fenella seems to be trying to take this approach when it comes to the activities of the CCD.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Played straight with Bonneville (but subverted with Will Parry's mother in His Dark Materials)
  • Mad Scientist: Gerard Bonneville is one, though this version is played much more darkly and realistically than usual.
  • The Mentor: Dr Hannah Relf becomes this for Malcolm, letting him borrow her books and discussing with him. Word of God said Malcolm later became a Scholar, just like her.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The Sisters of Holy Obedience evidently run one of these.
  • Out with a Bang: Happens to Sister Katarina.
  • Pædo Hunt: Downplayed with Bonneville trying to seduce and later rape sixteen-year-old Alice. She's certainly old enough for it to flirt with legality, but Bonneville's obvious Axe-Crazy makes it unpalatable.
    • More serious, Lord Nugent intends to blackmail a high-placed official with an interest in young boys, and thinks Malcolm would be a good bait. Hannah is very much not okay with that.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: Scholars still have wealth and stature, but they're in for a bad time if the results of their research contradict church doctrine. After the League of St. Alexander is formed, all the teachers end up being pushed around by the students, and those who run afoul of the League disappear.
  • Prequel: The first book of the trilogy, La Belle Sauvage, was released 22 years after Northern Lights / The Golden Compass, but is set 10 years before.
  • Primal Scene: Malcolm walks into a shed and finds Sister Katarina and Gerard Bonneville having sex. It appears to be consensual, but what happens at the end most certainly is not.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While it's not actually rape, the scene where Bonneville's daemon pisses on a path in front of Malcolm serves to cement the book's Darker and Edgier tone and establishes just how loathsome Bonneville is.
  • Self-Harm: The scene where Bonneville attacks his own daemon. It's also suggested that this may be why Bonneville's daemon is missing one leg.
  • Thought Crime: The people who are taken away after the League of St. Alexander is formed don't need to have actually done anything subversive—failing to show enough deference to the League seems to be enough.
  • Vow of Celibacy: The nuns obviously have these. Sister Katarina breaks hers.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Malcolm, when Bonneville attacks Alice.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Or at least "You are prettier than you think you are," said by Malcolm to Alice when Alice opens up to Malcolm about how Bonneville tried to seduce her by playing on her insecurities about her looks.

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