The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)

by Philip Pullman

3.73 of 5 stars 41 ratings • 4 reviews • 56 shelved
Book cover for The Subtle Knife

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The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)

by Philip Pullman

3.73 of 5 stars 41 ratings • 4 reviews • 56 shelved

The spellbinding sequel to The Golden Compass, the modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an "All-Time Greatest Novel" and Newsweek hailed as a "Top 100 Book of All Time," continues the epic adventure, catapulting readers between worlds, and toward a devastating discovery.

Lost in a new world, Lyra finds Will—a boy on the run, a murderer—a worthy and welcome ally. For this is a world where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and witches share the skies with troops of angels.

Each is searching—Lyra for the meaning of Dark Matter, Will for his missing father—but what they find instead is a deadly secret, a knife of untold power. And neither Lyra nor Will suspects how tightly their lives, their loves, their destinies are bound together...until they are split apart.

A #1 New York Times Bestseller
Published in 40 Countries

“Just as quick-moving and unputdownable as The Golden Compass. . . . The mysteries deepen and the wonders grow even more extravagant.” —The Washington Post

“Pullman’s imagination soars . . . A literary rollercoaster ride you won’t want to miss.”—The Boston Globe

“The story gallops with ferocious momentum . . . Devilishly inventive.” —The New York Times Book Review

Don't miss Philip Pullman's epic new trilogy set in the world of His Dark Materials!
La Belle Sauvage
The Secret Commonwealth
  • ISBN10 0440418615
  • ISBN13 9780440418610
  • Publish Date 13 November 2001 (first published 22 July 1997)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Imprint Yearling Books
  • Format eBook
  • Pages 219
  • Language English


Avatar for clq

clq 3 of 5 stars
As a TV-series based on these books seems to be coming out soon, I figured it would be a good time to pick up my rereading of His Dark Materials. I'm sure I've read these books before, but they are filed under the category of books I read so long ago that I can't remember anything at all about them.

The Subtle Knife left me feeling unsatisfied. The story is told very well, and the atmosphere created by the storytelling is wonderful, but the story itself didn't do it for me. It's meant to be disjointed - the narrative skips around from place to place - but it skipped around just often enough that I never managed to immerse myself as much in the book as the storytelling called for. The lack of immersion might be my fault. I read the book in quite a lot of sittings, and this is a book that might not lend itself very well to that.

For a book this short, The Subtle Knife felt surprisingly long. There were sections which, while the existence of them did add to the story, felt much longer than they needed to be. There is a sense of many threads being laid out which will eventually come together to make up the final story, but as a standalone books there were a few too many threads in this one, and not enough attention paid to each of them.

I'm sure my problems with this book will all be justified by the last book in the series. At least I truly hope so.

Avatar for clementine

clementine 4 of 5 stars
In the second book in the trilogy, Lyra and Will spend a lot of time in Cittagazze, a transitory world between all other worlds. This book itself feels like a transition: slow to start, heavy on action in the second half which leaves a lot of loose threads for the final instalment. It's rich in imagination, delightful characters, and emotion. (I will always shed a tear at Lee Scoresby's death.) Here we get more development of some of the background characters we met in The Golden Compass. There's a particular focus on the witches, and Pullman positions them as naturally and perpetually opposed to the Church, echoing the religious persecution of witches throughout history. Because we are now building to a battle that implicates all of humanity, the focus broadens: it is not merely Lyra's story, or even Lyra and Will's. The perspectives of the other characters are interesting and help flesh out the world(s) of the novels, but sometimes I was a bit sorry to leave Lyra and Will. Having read this book several times, none of the twists were new to me this time around, but they are still poignant and satisfying. Not the best book in the series, but necessary and still brilliant.

Avatar for cfiel25

KitsuneBae 4 of 5 stars
For the full review, please visit Thoughts and Pens

Compared to The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife is tamer in terms of battle and gory scenes but nevertheless a stunning momentum to unravel the climax of the whole story (which I hope would be magnificently delivered in the third book). It mostly covered the life of young Will and how from mistrust, he has grown to care for Lyra and considered her as his best friend. His boldness and display of maturity even at the face of murder and bizarre happening is no mean feat for a child of 12. And that boundless love for his mother is the one thing that I could never forget about this novel. It was tender and warm, a focal point to maintain heart and humanity for the disastrous ongoings in Philip Pullman’s world.
Meanwhile, Lyra is even more adorable in The Subtle Knife, a beacon of spontaneity and candidness yet remained valiant against all odds. And even better is that we can see a significant difference in Lyra’s personality in this book. She’s slowly maturing, finally realizing that there’s a bigger world out there which needs more attention than the petty things she usually stick her nose with.
In this book, we are given another glimpse of our favorite characters from Lee Scoresby to Serafina Pekkala and the villains we come to hate for their subtleties like Mrs. Coulter for example. Other creepy creatures have also been introduced in the Subtle Knife which I think created a perfect entourage to carry the story of His Dark Materials, the Specters which really scared the hell out of me.
The Subtle Knife’s steampunk is a pure genius. Imagine an ordinary looking knife which can cut through windows in this world to reveal another. This totally blew me off my feet. Worlds connected to the other worlds and the subtle knife’s important role to all of what is happening is simply unbelievable.
The plot of the Subtle Knife is even more unexpected as it gradually provides clear accounts of the nature of Dust, why Lord Asriel was hellbent on going to the beyond, the Church’s desperation in putting a stop to those who wanted to study Dust and why Lyra’s world was spinning out of control. The Subtle Knife touches the most sacred aspect of man’s beginning and it challenges faith itself, mixing fantasy and theology.
While quite satisfied, I have however dislikes about this book. One is that, Philip immediately killed two necessary characters which I think we need to know more about. Second, where was Iorek Byrnison and why is he suddenly missing? Third, where are the gyptians, Lord Faa and Farder Coram? They were very important characters and their fame in this book suddenly plummeted like a crashing airplane.

All in all, The Subtle Knife, as the other reviews say, is a perfect classic in the making.

Avatar for allshesays

Stephanie 3 of 5 stars
Interesting. But as usual lots of parts were really slow or dragged on. It really picked up in the last 40 pages or so and I wish the rest of the book went at that pace. Ending makes me for sure want to read the next one. Digging Will.

Short review is short since I am writing this from my phone.