His Dark Materials

I recently finished reading the “His Dark Materials” trilogy (which includes The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman. I’d been meaning to read this series of young-adult novels for quite sometime, but the length of the books appeared pretty daunting to me. Don’t get me wrong – I read long books, it just takes me a bit of self-coaxing to do it.
Back to the books. The story follows a young girl (Lyra) who is destined to fullfil an ancient prophecy without knowing what she is destined to do while attempting to keep herself and her friends alive. The first book starts in Lyra’s world, but as the books continue she travels to different alternate Earth’s.
As you read through the series the one thing that sticks out and pokes you in the eye is that Philip Pullman really dislikes religion. The majority of the antagonists in the series are affiliated with the church in one way or another. This blatant over-indulging dislike of religion by the author would be my only criticism of the series. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the “rah rah religion” type of person. I just think that fantasy books targeted for young adults should not be used as a soap-box for authors to spread their beliefs.
The books by themselves (and ignoring the religion bashing) are highly enjoyable. The characters and worlds that Philip Pullman extracted out of his imaginary are enduring and pulls you into the story. If you are looking for something to read while you wait for the next Harry Potter book to come out this is a good series to check out.

2 Comments

  1. Wouldn’t you say that all writing is colored by an author’s beliefs? Ficition writing is a very personal kind of communication and I think it would be difficult for author to hide what he or she really cares about.
    I read the series when I was in my teens and I really enjoyed it. Didn’t notice the whole church-bashing thing that much, either because I was caught up in the story or because I agreed with it.

  2. I agree and I don’t think authors should censor themselves, I was just surprised at the underlying church-bashing by Philip Pullman. I also don’t know if that kind of “propaganda” should be directed at teens. Especially in the guise of a fantasy novel.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the biggest fan of the church. I just think that the story would have been a lot better without the church-bashing in it.

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