His Dark Materials Trilogy

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Post by Isis Crane » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:19 pm

I ADORE DAEMONS!!!!

^ ^; I love the trilogy, and the story line is great, but I love the concept of the dæmon the best. I have read each book about three times now in 3 years.

The first one is my favorite, I love it the most because it has the most dæmons. The second one isn't as good, but the third one is almost better than the first. I love the third one, but its just so sad. *points to sig*
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"And then for the first time Lyra truly realized what she was doing. This was the real consequence.
She stood aghast, trembling, and clutched her dear dæmon so tightly that he whimpered in pain." ~The Amber Spyglass
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Post by Prof. Opal Dragonfly » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:08 am

This trilogy started out with such promise. My opinion is that PP didn't quite fulfill the promise by the end. I felt quite let down by the final solution. But, it was full of action and symbolism! I thought he might be trying to rival Tolkien with the multiple layers of intrigue, good versus evil, etc., in the plots and the excessive descriptions. Prof. Opal
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Post by Gwen Juniper » Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:43 am

I liked the first book the best, the second one's okay, the third one is really good. I LOVED
the Muelfa, they're so cool !!! But the ending is really sad, it didn't make me cry but I was
definitely sad.
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Post by Kiri Galdor » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:10 am

Apparently there is another book being published before the Book of Dust. Once Upon a Time in the North is being published in April 2008, followed by The Book of Dust, pub date unknown at the moment.
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Post by Prof. Iruel Riddle » Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:23 am

I'll definitely look for it when it comes out. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />. I love the His Dark Materials trilogy- even though I've only read up to "The Subtle Knife". I stopped reading the series for awhile to give me time to read other books(and besides that, I don't want it to be over. XD), but I do look forward to reading the last one. /smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" />
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Post by Prof. Rorey Padfoot » Wed Feb 27, 2008 4:12 pm

I had never heard of these books till over this past summer, when a friend let me borrow the first 2 books. I finished the first book in no time, but got bored half way through the Subtle Knife and took a break. Then I picked it up this weekend and finished it in 2 days. I have the Amber Spyglass and haven't started it yet, but I hope it completes the story well.

I find it interesting that a few more books are coming out for the story and hope to read them when they come out.
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Post by Faye Laramie » Wed Feb 27, 2008 10:12 pm

I recall really liking the first book back when I read these books in sixth grade, and did also enjoy the second. I too am enamoured by the world Pullman created, especially the spectres and daemons. But The Amber Spyglass felt so heavy-handed I thought I'd drown in the parable; to me it was a mean-spirited attack on religious dogmas (don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with his points) that overshadowed the rest of the book, much moreso than the first two of the trilogy. If I wanted to read a criticism of blind faith, I would have read essays.

Not to mention that, as a reader, I felt cheated after I finished. Obviously I don't intend to spoil, but my distaste for the third clouded my admiration for the first two. Also, learning that Pullman wrote those books with a clear ideology in mind also kind of killed my liking.
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Post by Prof. Opal Dragonfly » Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:11 am

Leah Samson wrote:QUOTE (Leah Samson @ Feb 27 2008, 10:12 PM) to me it was a mean-spirited attack on religious dogmas (don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with his points) that overshadowed the rest of the book, much moreso than the first two of the trilogy. If I wanted to read a criticism of blind faith, I would have read essays.

Not to mention that, as a reader, I felt cheated after I finished. Obviously I don't intend to spoil, but my distaste for the third clouded my admiration for the first two. Also, learning that Pullman wrote those books with a clear ideology in mind also kind of killed my liking.

Dear Leah--Per my previous post, I agree with you! And--I had the same disappointed reaction to The Chronicles of Narnia as I realized that they were an "apology" (in the older literary sense of a "defense") for Christian beliefs. Some authors can weave such opinions and beliefs into their books much more subtly than either Pullman or Lewis did! The best authors, of course, leave those blatantly "brainwashing" themes out and, while letting the literature carry the reader along, present several ideas from which the reader is free to choose. Prof. Opal
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Post by Faye Laramie » Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:37 am

Re: Authors letting their writing speak for themselves, yes yes yes! In order for a book to be enjoyable, one has to identify at least somewhat with the protagonist, and a protagonist with no moral compass is difficult to sell. In that case, incorporating human values, a sense of justice, etc. into books isn't hard, I would even say it's inevitable. Carroll and Pullman, (clearly on opposite sides) did not have to write their novels blatantly as a religious defense or attack. The ideas can be subtly integrated, not hammering the reader over the head, and still be powerful.

The issue I see here, however, is that these are books written for children. Yet, I know when I was a kid, I was pretty oblivious to all the messages and liked the story for what it was, so, who knows?
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Post by Prof. Opal Dragonfly » Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:06 pm

Leah: QUOTE The issue I see here, however, is that these are books written for children. Yet, I know when I was a kid, I was pretty oblivious to all the messages and liked the story for what it was, so, who knows?[/quote]


Well, there's "children" and then there's "children"! By formal defintition, Children's Literature ranges from ages 4/5 (once you move beyond picture books) to 18. After that, the reader is considered an "Adult." In that age range, we have Elementary fiction and non-fiction (beginning readers), chapter books (both fiction and non-fiction) for Intermediate readers, and then novellas and full-fledged novels/non-fiction for Adolescent/teen Literature. (Of course, every child reads at his or her own level and with unique understanding according to personal experience and knowledge levels, etc.)

I would agree that "heavy themes" about religion and other subjects probably do not "sink in" to the youngest of readers; however, adults love these blatantly moralistic and "correct behavior" type books. They believe that the children will absorb the "lessons" if exposed to them long and hard enough. And there's "the rub"; good authors--for whatever age--want the reader to see choices about thought and behavior, while dogmatic authors want there to be only the "one way" or "one belief." The older and more experienced the "child" reader, the less apt he or she is to relate to the dogmatism, or absorb (willingly, anyway) the messages. And, that's when the conflict between adults in authority (parents/teachers/pastors, government officers, etc.) and the children and other adults with authority (parents, teachers, pastors, government officers, etc.) arises.

I remember my young teenage daughter (about 13) listenting to Madonna's "I Want to Keep My Baby" (or, whatever the title of that song was). My daughter insisted that it was about a young girl who wanted to keep her boyfriend, against her father's wishes. Of course, that was NOT what that song was about, but she just didn't get the real message yet. We had several discussions about that song--and because she couldn't yet relate to the singer's "experiential level," she would not change her opinion about the theme. (She laughs now at that whole episode!) So--age, general knowledge, and experience do have a great deal to do with literary understanding and appreciation!

My considered opinion is that critical thinking should be supported and practiced from the earliest ages, in all types of literature, other arts, and in formal education, and that will lead our world to be populated by tolerant, discerning and caring adults. (I hope!) Prof. Opal
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Post by Faye Laramie » Fri Feb 29, 2008 1:38 am

From what I understand, it feels like there are two tracks of YA/children's books, ones that are written by authors who say "don't question authority," and others that say "think for yourself." I think the best is probably somewhere in the middle, around "Think for yourself, consider the consequences, then act."

It's one thing if the author wants to depict the world as is, and another of a world that "should be"--the latter is more dangerous, but also gives an opportunity for the author to explore the consequences of certain decisions. (Plugging Jo Walton's "Farthing" once again--I can't stop thinking about that book.) The problem with His Dark Materials is that Pullman did not let the ideas and story develop on its own, it was like he pulled down his authorial hand and began sermonizing, turning his characters into puppets by the end.

What bothers me most is when one of those "one belief" authors portray complicated topics in black and white, because reality is NOT like that, not even in alternate reality. Like, let's take the example of a compulsive liar. The liar gets ahead in society by lying, but also suffers the consequences. A story that shares the liar's motivations, as well a his actions and consequences, is much more complete than "a liar who got caught, reformed, and now is good." Bor-ING! The first story is definitely more apt to stay in my mind. I personally think moral ambiguity is good in books, because there's so much of it in the dreaded "real life." Entwined inside a good story, it has real educational value. (One book that did this to me was Peter Shaffer's Equus.)

Also, these issues are ultimately difficult to address because of the varying levels of emotional maturity in each reader. When my high school English class read Lord of the Flies, many people failed to extract the theme, or should I say, the "correct" theme. Themes are often misunderstood, even by adults (who in turn, call in to have books banned.) This just supports my theory that most people probably don't read into the story enough anyway, and those who do already know to think for themselves.

I am totally with you on fostering "critical thinking" as early as possible. How much 'morality' can one learn from a book? It's not an author's job to instill moral values--that should come from the parent (or similar). If I ever become a parent, I could not ban any book, even those written by authors that have differing ideologies from mine. I would, however, hope that at the time of reading, my child was mature enough to reason through the themes. Isn't that the point where we all want our children to be at, a place where they can reason for themselves--with the right tools, of course.

Sorry I gased on for so long, I probably went off on a million tangents. Does it give too much away that I spend a lot of time in my own head?
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Post by Prof. Opal Dragonfly » Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:46 am

Dear Leah--well, I was about to apologize for my previous "sermon"-- /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":lol:" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" /> ! I agree with you whole-heartedly! In fact, I just finished a YA fantasy book called Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr, and it starts off with just that dilemma: two or three relatively "good" characters are faced with some agonizingly complicated choices--all of which will hurt somebody or something. We want to intensely dislike one of them right from the beginning, but we find that even he has mitigating circumstances involved in his seemingly "cold-hearted" decisions. It really is a book for future thought--and also is a myth for the summer and winter seasons! (Quite a combination!) Prof. Opal
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Post by Faye Laramie » Fri Feb 29, 2008 3:01 am

Oooh, "Wicked Lovely" already made it onto my recommended reading list. I also have a note somewhere that it has a very effective cover (another one of my pet hobbies... examining book covers).

What do you think is more interesting, disliking a character at the beginning of a novel, then learning how he is compartmentalizing it, or knowing that a character is malicious and flawed, but discovering how he got that way (and maybe some more redeemable qualities)?
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Post by Prof. Opal Dragonfly » Sat Mar 01, 2008 2:35 am

We don't really have to look any further than JKR's Severus Snape! Right from the start we are led to dislike him (and in many interviews she has held fast the to the idea that he is simply "not very nice"). Of course, there are reasons--but maybe not excuses. Most importantly, however, we learn that he has regrets about the way things are, so we (and Harry) believe he is "redeemed" (at least a bit) in the end. He fits the second description, I think--and I found that "goodness" so interesting to be finally revealed (although early on, I surmised that he was deeply in love with Lily).

The first is harder to deal with, I think, because the "meaness" or evil is never (often) atoned for--just moved around or placed in the background as other aspects of the personality come forth. I think of the anti-hero in Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester, who is totally unjustified in what he does to his insane wife and to Jane. Is his "badness" expiated in the end? Some would say "yes," but I am not so sure. Voldemort, to my thinking, has NO excuse; despite his miserable youth, he could have turned himself into something "better" than what he chose.

Gosh, I hope I made some sense here--LOL! Prof. Opal
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Post by Faye Laramie » Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:57 am

Your mentioning Mr. Rochester also sprung to mind another famous Byronic hero, Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. I really think Emily Bronte was toying with us a bit, trying to get the readers to believe he would somehow turn out to be "good," that he was just rough around the edges and needed Cathy to soften him up and "fix him"--only of course that wasn't what happened. Yet, she forces to reader to search for excuses for "good" qualities in him.

That aside, I agree very much about Snape. Though a lot of people picking up on the clues pretty much guessed Snape's intent before the seventh book, he was still probably Rowling's best characterization. Many villains in the book are just that--villains: the Death Eaters, Umbridge, Voldemort, etc.--and those who are morally ambiguous, like Narcissa Malfoy or the Dursleys, aren't given as much screen time. The fact that Snape was pegged by the trio early on as a "baddie," yet turned out to have deeper motivations, gave the books more depth. He is proof that there isn't just "good vs. evil," and though that idea doesn't have too many shades of grey, Snape is one of them. With Voldemort, though--you are right, he definitely could have turned himself into something better, but that was his choice. I'm sure that's the point Rowling is trying to make, but I can't help but feel as if the explanation is a little flaky.
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Post by Prof. Opal Dragonfly » Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:58 pm

Dear Leah-- /laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":lol:" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" /> I am laughing because I had typed a paragraph about Heathcliff and then deleted it (I figured my "sermons" were already too long!). So--I am very happy that you discussed him! I agree totally! Prof. Opal
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Post by Meg London » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:44 pm

I've read the first two. Everyone's discouraging me from reading them, since there's all that controversy about religion and killing God, but I think as long as I just enjoy them as good books it'll be fine...
After all, they had the same thing over Harry Potter and here I am! :P
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Post by Astra Holt » Thu Jun 26, 2008 7:46 am

Dolores Umbridge (*shudder*) is another good example of a character who isn't two dimensional.

JKR explained her with "The world isn't divided into good people and Death Eaters." i liked the depth that allowed for a truly evil character who was not so easily pigeonholed as we would believe.

I raise both my children to think. Protecting kids from media that disagrees with one's own opinion doesn't prepare them to think for themselves. Especially in our modern world, where people are bombarded with information (and lies masquerading as information!), parents need to prepare their children to listen, look, think and then make their own decisions.

That takes practice, not insulation.

Besides, if a child is forbidden to read something, any parent knows that is the quickest way to get him to read it! Look at the popularity of movies that inspire people to protest against presenting differing opinions from their own!
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Post by Artemis Lunar » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:10 am

I came into this discussion a bit late, but I must say I enjoyed His Dark Materials very much. I also came to the book late, being that I had never heard of it, till I heard about the movie. Then I read the entire series before the movie even came out (I have to admit that I still haven't seen the movie).

There was a cute thing on the site where you could discover what your daemon was. Mine is a rabbit named Skaene. ^_^
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Post by Zooey Taylor » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:32 am

Artemis Lunar wrote:QUOTE (Artemis Lunar @ Jul 8 2008, 10:10 AM) I came into this discussion a bit late, but I must say I enjoyed His Dark Materials very much. I also came to the book late, being that I had never heard of it, till I heard about the movie. Then I read the entire series before the movie even came out (I have to admit that I still haven't seen the movie).

There was a cute thing on the site where you could discover what your daemon was. Mine is a rabbit named Skaene. ^_^
I heard of the books just before the movie came out, as they'd rereleased the books and The Subtle Knife had a cat on the cover. That's what caught my eye. I read the first one, and fell in love with it. I don't care that people say that it's anti-Christian and all that stuff. People said the same sorta thing about HP, didn't they?

I saw the daemon quiz. Mine is a snow leopard called Thalius :)
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