The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

Seems to me the place you fight cruelty is where you find it, and the place you give help is where you see it needed.

I love Lee Scoresby with all my heart.

With that important preface aside, The Subtle Knife is an entirely worthy successor to Pullman’s The Golden Compass. I remember struggling with it a little as a teenager, so enamored by the adventures of Lyra that the sudden shift into Will’s world was jarring. This time around, I loved it. I still adore Lyra, of course I do, but in The Subtle Knife, Pullman widens his universe(s) through the expansion of his POV characters, and between Will, Lee Scoresby and Serafina Pekkala, there’s not a one that isn’t wonderful.

In some ways, I found this story a little slower than The Golden Compass. It certainly took me longer to get through – just shy of two weeks, while I firmly believe that time stood entirely still as I listened to the first installment. But there’s groundwork to be laid, relationships to be developed and concepts to be unveiled that I trust will pay off magnificently in The Amber Spyglass. I remember very little about that book, and am looking forward to it enormously.

Once again, Pullman’s narration is superb, and the voice cast perform their roles admirably. There’s not a mis-step or disappointment among them. I really believe that this might be the best audio adaptation I’ve ever listened to, and that’s entirely as high a praise as it sounds.

[Read from 31 March-11 April 2016]

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