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These are not good books. The plot is unfocused and meandering. The characters are shallow and forgettable. There's a lot of interesting fantasy ideas, but they're all thrown together with little rhyme or reason. Character spend a lot of time relying on fortune-telling to tell them what to do.
The books are, by the author's statement, a pro-atheism tract, and I am embarrassed to say that when I read them as an agnostic teenager, they convinced me to become an atheist. That ended up not lasting long, as I was quickly forced to confront the fact that Christians weren't all a bunch of evil, brainless fanatics who hate science, children and candy. Yes, really. According to Pullman, being religious means being against taking vacations or eating sweets. I was also turned off when I thought more about some of Pullman's ideas, especially the nihilistic way he seems to think that not existing after you die is something people should be really, really happy about.
There's also some hypocrisy in accusing religious people of being anti-science while promoting i-ching as a legitimate way to learn about the future.
Tell me about it. I acknowledge that Pullman had some cool fantasy ideas (especially the whole Daemon thing), but his anti-religion message was about as subtle as a spiked sledgehammer to the crotch, and even less nuanced than that. That really made it hard for me to enjoy the books toward the end. I fully sympathize with you here^^
Question, though, what's i-ching?
Theokal 3: It\'s an old divination manual from China. The actual use of it apparently involves getting six binary values (either yin or yang), represented as one of sixty-four possible hexagrams, and then interpreting the result based on that. Pullman doesn\'t go into much detail as to how it\'s actually used in the book, so I thought it was about throwing sticks in the air and seeing how they landed.
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