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.