Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, #0.5)

by Philip Pullman

3.67 of 5 stars 3 ratings • 1 review • 3 shelved
Book cover for Once Upon a Time in the North

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Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, #0.5)

by Philip Pullman

3.67 of 5 stars 3 ratings • 1 review • 3 shelved
When Lyra is studying at Oxford University, she comes across the story of Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnisson's first meeting, many years ago, along with much evidence of the adventure that brought them together. When a young Texan balloonist, Lee Scoresby, comes down to earth in the harbour of an Arctic town in the North, little does he realise that he is about to be embroiled in an out-and-out political brawl. Lee and his daemon, Hester, find themselves the target of political factions trying to take over the running (and oil) of the town. And also resident in the town are huge arctic bears, ignored and patronised by the people and treated like second-class citizens. When Lee and Iorek first meet, they cement a friendship that will continue throughout their lives, as the tensions and pressure in town lead to a deadly conclusion...Another wonderful tale from a master story-teller, giving us more extraordinary insight into the world of His Dark Materials. Includes a thrilling board game!
  • ISBN10 0857534181
  • ISBN13 9780857534187
  • Publish Date 1 January 1999
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country GB
  • Publisher Penguin Random House Children's UK
  • Imprint Doubleday Children's Books
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 112
  • Language English


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Welcome back to Lyra's world.

Once Upon a Time in the North is a fun little novella that gives fans of His Dark Materials a little peek into the life of aeronaut Lee Scorseby, his daemon Hester, and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison.  This story is definitely more of a snapshot than a complete story, and frankly, it just left me with more questions about Lee's history!  But it was still loads of fun to read a little about these characters outside of their roles in His Dark Materials.

While this book is short, it's bloody.

Even in his youth, Lee Scorseby has that cowboy-vibe and he's not afraid to pull out his pistol for the right cause.  This is definitely true of Once Upon a Time in the North, and I say this because the full second half of this book is a gunfight.  The physical copy of the book with its illustrated cover and lightweight pages and generally small size looks a lot like a early reader's chapter book - I think it's important that parents know that this is probably not well suited for a seven or eight year old, unless they want to be reading about bulletwounds?  Be ye warned.

One thing that I loved about this novella was Lee's daemon, Hester.  In the other books, Hester is a relatively quiet little daemon - especially compared to Pan - and we don't hear a lot about her.  Once Upon a Time in the North starts out much the same way, only Hester begins to unfold, ending in her own fight.  I thought she was very brave, but also delightful.

And, as a little bonus:

If you look through this book, there are loads of scraps and tidbits... shipping ledgers, handwritten notes, and the like.  At the VERY end, there are a few handwritten letters and a certificate of dissortation, which I nearly didn't read... READ THEM!  The source of this story made me smile.

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