The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials Series #3) [NOOK Book]


“The most magnificent fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings.” —The Oregonian
Throughout the worlds, the forces of both heaven and hell are mustering to take part in Lord Asriel’s audacious rebellion. Each player in this epic drama has a role to play--and a sacrifice to make. Witches, angels, spies, assassins, tempters, and pretenders, no one will remain unscathed....
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The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials Series #3)

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“The most magnificent fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings.” —The Oregonian
Throughout the worlds, the forces of both heaven and hell are mustering to take part in Lord Asriel’s audacious rebellion. Each player in this epic drama has a role to play--and a sacrifice to make. Witches, angels, spies, assassins, tempters, and pretenders, no one will remain unscathed.
Lyra and Will have the most dangerous task of all. They must journey to a gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone and from which there is no escape.
As war rages and Dust drains from the sky, the fate of the living--and the dead--to depend on Lyra and Will.
A New York Times Bestseller
A Newsweek Top 100 Book of All Time
An Entertainment Weekly All-Time Greatest Novel
Winner of the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award.
Winner of the British Book Award (Children's)
"Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century. An astounding achievement." --The Cincinnati Enquirer
"Breathtaking adventure . . . a terrific story, eloquently told." --The Boston Globe
"War, politics, magic, science, individual lives and cosmic destinies are all here . . . shaped and assembled into a narrative of tremendous pace by a man with a generous, precise intelligence. I am completely enchanted." --The New York Times Book Review
"Masterful. . . . This title confirms Pullman's inclusion in the company of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien." --Smithsonian Magazine

From the Hardcover edition.

Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year award, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
The third installment of the wonderfully successful trilogy from Phillip Pullman will not disappoint. Starting with the return of Lyra, readers know they are in for a great ride. Will's hold on the magical blade that can cut between both worlds is staunch, the introduction of new worlds produces questions and answers, and the war with the Kingdom of Heaven swells forward. The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife offered readers fantastic tales of a mysterious and bizarre word. In this finale, Pullman ties up loose ends and also provides nail-biting revelations, as Dr. Mary Malone and Mrs. Coulter look to a future no one could have predicted. And the secret of Dust will astonish many readers. Prepare to be blown away with the conclusion to this modern classic.
Publishers Weekly
"In concluding the spellbinding Dark Materials trilogy, Pullman produces what may well be the most controversial children's book of recent years," wrote PW. As he asks readers to examine the ideas of organized religion, "Pullman riffs on the elemental chords of classical myth and fairytale. Stirring and highly provocative." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In concluding the spellbinding His Dark Materials trilogy, Pullman produces what may well be the most controversial children's book of recent years. The witch Serafina Pekkala, quoting an angel, sums up the central theme: "All the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity. The rebel angels, the followers of wisdom, have always tried to open minds; the Authority and his churches have always tried to keep them closed." Early on, this "Authority" is explicitly identified as the Judeo-Christian God, and he is far from omnipotent: his Kingdom is ruled by a regent. The cosmic battle to overthrow the Kingdom is only one of the many epic sequences in this novel--so much happens, and the action is split among so many different imagined worlds, that readers will have to work hard to keep up with Pullman. In the opening, for example, Lyra is being hidden and kept in a drugged sleep in a Himalayan cave by her mother, the beautiful and treacherous Mrs. Coulter. Will is guided by two angels across different worlds to find Lyra. The physicist and former nun, Mary Malone, sojourns in an alternatively evolved world. In yet another universe, Lord Asriel has assembled a great horde of otherworldly beings-including the vividly imagined race of haughty, hand-high warriors called Gallivespians--to bring down the Kingdom. Along the way, Pullman riffs on the elemental chords of classical myth and fairy tale. While some sections seem rushed and the prose is not always as brightly polished as fans might expect, Pullman's exuberant work stays rigorously true to its own internal structure. Stirring and highly provocative. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass concludes the trilogy which he began in The Golden Compass and continued in The Subtle Knife. These books are best read in order, for you need the foundation to understand and know the heroes, Lyra and Will, and their parallel words. Lyra lives in a world that has the feel of turn-of-the-century England where religion, alchemy and science vie for power, and innocent Lyra is able read a mystical instrument that tells the future. She meets Will in the second book. He comes from a world where specters can suck out your soul and he has a knife that can cut doors into other worlds. The first two books were so well-done that it seemed impossible for Pullman to create a satisfying conclusion. His triumph was known to his followers long before the Whitbread acknowledged it¾partly from his skill in making references to Dante, the Bible, Homer and Aeschylus, without bogging down the story. In The Amber Spyglass, Lyra and Will's relationship blossoms. Its guileless beauty contradicts the horrors of war that surrounds them, while their pubescent struggles correspond to the tenuous global situation where changes come abruptly and unexpectedly, and one often feels alone. Separation is both a symbolic and organizing structure; subplots coexist and the characters strain to find unity. Pullman doesn't end this series simplistically, but creates one last irony. After an Armageddon-like clash that is Blakian in concept and feel, Lyra and Will move forward in a bumbling way, their adolescence overwhelming a perfect symbol for the new order. For the good of their individual worlds and their shared universe, they must separate and struggle to regain what they've hadtogether. Part of the "His Dark Materials" series. 2000, Knopf, $19.95. Ages 14 up. Reviewer: Susie Wilde AGES: 14 15 16 17 18
Pullman completes his amazing trilogy with a masterpiece in this third volume. The action is relentless, pulling the reader forward through bright and dark images of alternate worlds. Pullman introduces intriguing new creatures at the same time that characters and concepts from the first two books in the trilogy weave in and out. How he completes the whole with the plot resolved, the characters dearer to the reader, and the themes coming to some closure, is a feat that is truly impressive. In his Acknowledgements, Pullman mentions his debts to the works of William Blake and to John Milton's Paradise Lost. His descriptions of angels, the journey of Will and Lyra to the World of the Dead, and the numerous metaphysical references do connect him to Blake and Milton. However, since the trilogy's concept of Dust is linked to theories in quantum physics, and a main character is Dr. Mary Malone, a physicist in modern Oxford, this fantasy could only be written in our time. As is true of all good fantasy, a reader is able to approach the trilogy primarily as adventure, filled with dangerous journeys and villains, with abiding love and friendships, with marvelous creatures and creations. Will and Lyra, brave children, struggling, sometimes nearly paralyzed by fear and grief, are heroes all readers care for and admire. At the end of the trilogy, Will and Lyra approach adulthood making difficult decisions and acknowledging their love for one another; in doing so, they become beloved, fully realized characters no reader will ever forget. When, in addition to this level of story, a reader discovers mind-expanding concepts, great themes related to the nature of God, man, and the universe, then it seemsto me that a classic work of literature has been created. And the language! The first chapter, The Enchanted Sleeper, begins: " In a valley shaded by rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where a stream milky with meltwater splashed and where doves and linnets flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half-hidden by the crag above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below." Editor's Note: the first two books in the Dark Materials trilogy have received the highest acclaim in the field of children's literature and are also ALA Best Books for YAs. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Random House/Knopf, 518p, 00-044776, $19.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-With The Amber Spyglass (Knopf, 2000), Philip Pullman completes his epic trilogy, collectively titled, His Dark Materials. The young heroine, Lyra Belacqua, is still battling the evil forces that inhabit the warring fantasy cosmos introduced in The Golden Compass (Knopf ,1996), and continued in The Subtle Knife (Knopf ,1997). In this volume, Lyra is rescued from her often unscrupulous mother by her trusted companion, Will. Will and Lyra endure a perilous journey to the land of the dead, and reconnect with Dr. Mary Malone who has made the all-important spyglass. After encounters with helpful angels, demons and witches, as well as difficulties with clergy and theologians, the pair fulfill their destiny. With this comes a deeper understanding of the dangers to their universe, and eventually, painful, but necessary choices. Pullman does a first class job as narrator of his language-rich text. He is joined by a superb cast of 40 British actors who bring the book's large and diverse array of characters into sharp focus. This fine recording is almost a stage play in a box, and it is a solid purchase for both school and public libraries. Considering the book's 500 plus pages, the recording is likely to be a very popular way for fans both young and old to conclude Pullman's classically-inspired saga.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Familiarity with the prior novels in 'His Dark Materials' is essential for an easy understanding of Book 3 of the series. The Amber Spyglass continues the adventures of Lyra and Will, who journey to a dark world while an amber spyglass involves the world in war and chaos. The plot is compleXx and evolving but counts on a background developed in the prior books.
U.S. News & World Report in thought as well as adventure. Pullman knits religion, creation, evolution, death, physics, original sin, and growing up intoe his own personal theory of everything.
Malcolm J. Jones
...almost everyone who does read Pullman becomes a fan.
Kirkus Reviews
The longed-for third volume in this trilogy (The Golden Compass, 1996; The Subtle Knife, 1997) satisfies deeply: full of grand set pieces, resplendent language, and glorious storytelling. Lyra Silvertongue at 12, from a world like but unlike this one, is keeper of the alethiometer—the golden compass. She can read its ways to find the truth, but it has been taken from her. Will Parry, of this world, injured by the subtle knife that can cut windows between worlds, will bring it back to her. And in yet another place, an Oxford researcher makes a spyglass that enables her to see the golden patterns of Dust, stuff of the universe. All of the splendid characters of the earlier books make a return, like Pan, Lyra's daemon, part of her very self; Iorek Byrnison the bear king; and Lyra's bewitching parents, Lord Asriel and the terrifying Mrs. Coulter. Whole new races appear: a panoply of angels; the mulefa, whose triangulated legs use the wheel in a new way; the brave and dashing Gallivespians, who live but a decade and are small enough to ride dragonflies. Across this brilliant and vivid canvas, the largest of themes play out: life and death, goodness and evil, self and other, the redemptive power of love. Lyra and Will's quest is hard and heartbreaking: they can only rely on themselves and each other to save their worlds, and the cost is great. There are roaring battles and moments of great tenderness; there are unforgettable scenes—Lyra and Will leading ghosts through the land of the dead, for example—and not a few echoes of Paradise Lost with some deeply unconventional theological implications. What matters at the last are the stories, and thetruthof their telling. Readers will be chastened—and warmed—and sorry to see the last page. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher
“Pullman has created the last great fantasy masterpiece of the twentieth century.”—The Cincinnati Enquirer

“Absorbing. . . . Like Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling, [Pullman] invents a world filled with strange divinations and wordplays.”—Newsweek

“A literary masterpiece . . . [that] caps the most magnificent fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings and puts Harry Potter to shame. . . . A page-turning story that builds to a powerful finish.”—Oregonian

“Impossible to put down, so firmly and relentlessly does Pullman draw you into his tale. . . . [A] gripping saga pitting the magnetic young Lyra Belacqua and her friend Will Parry against the forces of both Heaven and Hell.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375890031
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/13/2001
  • Series: His Dark Materials Series, #3
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: File Size: 403KB
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 37,967
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Philip  Pullman
Philip Pullman has won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for The Golden Compass (and the reader-voted "Carnegie of Carnegies" for the best children's book of the past seventy years); the Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award for The Amber Spyglass; a Booker Prize long-list nomination (The Amber Spyglass); Parents' Choice Gold Awards (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass); and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in honor of his body of work. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Philip Pullman is the author of many books for young readers, including two volumes related to the His Dark Materials trilogy: Lyra's Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North. He lives in Oxford, England. To learn more, please visit and

From the Hardcover edition.
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    1. Hometown:
      Oxford, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 19, 1946
    2. Place of Birth:
      Norwich, England
    1. Education:
      Exeter College, Oxford University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt


In a valley shaded with rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where a stream milky with meltwater splashed and where doves and linnets flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half, hidden by the crag above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below.

The woods were full of sound: the stream between the rocks, the wind among the needles of the pine branches, the chitter of insects and the cries of small arboreal mammals, as well as the birdsong; and from time to time a stronger gust of wind would make one of the branches of a cedar or a fir move against another and groan like a cello.

It was a place of brilliant sunlight, never undappled. Shafts of lemon-gold brilliance lanced down to the forest floor between bars and pools of brown-green shade; and the light was never still, never constant, because drifting mist would often float among the treetops, filtering all the sunlight to a pearly sheen and brushing every pine cone with moisture that glistened when the mist lifted. Sometimes the wetness in the clouds condensed into tiny drops half mist and half rain, which floated downward rather than fell, making a soft rustling patter among the millions of needles.

There was a narrow path beside the stream, which led from a village-little more than a cluster of herdsmen's dwellings - at the foot of the valley to a half-ruined shrine near the glacier at its head, a place where faded silken flags streamed out in the Perpetual winds from the high mountains, and offerings of barley cakes and dried tea were placed by pious villagers. An odd effect of the light, the ice, and the vapor enveloped the head of the valley in perpetual rainbows.

The cave lay some way above the path. Many years before, a holy man had lived there, meditating and fasting and praying, and the place was venerated for the sake of his memory. It was thirty feet or so deep, with a dry floor: an ideal den for a bear or a wolf, but the only creatures living in it for years had been birds and bats.

But the form that was crouching inside the entrance, his black eyes watching this way and that, his sharp ears pricked, was neither bird nor bat. The sunlight lay heavy and rich on his lustrous golden fur, and his monkey hands turned a pine cone this way and that, snapping off the scales with sharp fingers and scratching out the sweet nuts.

Behind him, just beyond the point where the sunlight reached, Mrs. Coulter was heating some water in a small pan over a naphtha stove. Her daemon uttered a warning murmur and Mrs. Coulter looked up.

Coming along the forest path was a young village girl. Mrs. Coulter knew who she was: Ama had been bringing her food for some days now. Mrs. Coulter had let it be known when she first arrived that she was a holy woman engaged in meditation and prayer, and under a vow never to speak to a man. Ama was the only person whose visits she accepted.

This time, though, the girl wasn't alone. Her father was with her, and while Ama climbed up to the cave, he waited a little way off.

Ama came to the cave entrance and bowed.

"My father sends me with prayers for your goodwill," she said.

"Greetings, child," said Mrs. Coulter.

The girl was carrying a bundle wrapped in faded cotton, which she laid at Mrs. Coulter's feet. Then she held out a little bunch of flowers, a dozen or so anemones bound with a cotton thread, and began to speak in a rapid, nervous voice. Mrs. Coulter understood some of the language of these mountain people, but it would never do to let them know how much. So she smiled and motioned to the girl to close her lips and to watch their two daemons. The golden monkey was holding out his little black hand, and Ama's butterfly daemon was fluttering closer and closer until he settled on a horny forefinger.

The monkey brought him slowly to his ear, and Mrs. Coulter felt a tiny stream of understanding flow into her mind, clarifying the girl's words. The villagers were happy for a holy woman, such as herself, to take refuge in the cave, but it was rumored 'that she had a companion with her who was in some way dangerous and powerful.

It was that which made the villagers afraid. Was this other Steing Mrs. Coulter's master, or her servant? Did she mean harm? Why was she there in the first place? Were they going to stay long? Ama conveyed these questions with a thousand misgivings.

A novel answer occurred to Mrs. Coulter as the daemon's understanding filtered into hers. She could tell the truth. Not all of it, naturally, but some. She felt a little quiver of laughter at the idea, but kept it out of her voice as she explained:

"Yes, there is someone else with me. But there is nothing to be afraid of. She is my daughter, and she is under a spell that made her fall asleep. We have come here to hide from the enchanter who put the spell on her, while I try to cure her and keep her from harm. Come and see her, if you like."

Ama was half-soothed by Mrs. Coulter's soft voice, and half afraid still; and the talk of enchanters and spells added to the awe she felt. But the golden monkey was holding her daemon so gently, and she was curious, besides, so she followed Mrs. Coulter into the cave.

Her father, on the path below, took a step forward, and his crow daemon raised her wings once or twice, but he stayed where he was.

Mrs. Coulter lit a candle, because the light was fading rapidly, and led Ama to the back of the cave. Ama's eyes glittered widely in the gloom, and her hands were moving together in a repetitive gesture of finger on thumb, finger on thumb, to ward off danger by confusing the evil spirits.

"You see?" said Mrs. Coulter. "She can do no harm. There's nothing to be afraid of."

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Ama climbed the path to the cave, as she'd done for many days now, bread and milk in the bag on her back, a heavy puzzlement in her heart. How in the world could she ever manage to reach the sleeping girl? Would the woman never leave the cave for more than a few minutes?

Ama came to the rock where the woman had told her to leave the food since she wasn't allowed in the cave anymore. She put down the bag, but she didn't go straight home; she climbed a little farther, up past the cave and through the thick rhododendrons, and farther up still to where the trees thinned out and the rainbows began.

This part of the valley was where the streams and cascades ran most confusingly: shafts of green-white water would sink into potholes and emerge a little lower down, or gush upward in splintered fountains, or divide into myriad streamlets, or swirl round and round trapped in a whirlpool. When the world was frozen, spears and shelves and columns of glassy ice grew over every surface, and under it all, the water could still be heard gushing and tinkling, and spray still escaped to the air for the rainbows to form.

Ama and her dæmon climbed up over the rock shelves and around the little cataracts, past the whirlpools and through the spectrum-tinted spray, until her hair and her eyelids and his squirrel fur were beaded all over with a million tiny pearls of moisture. The game was to get to the top without wiping your eyes, despite the temptation, and the sunlight sparkled and fractured into red, yellow, green, blue, and every color between right in front of Ama's eyes, but she mustn't wipe her hand across to see better until she got right to the top, or the game would be lost.

Kulang, her dæmon, sprang to a rock near the top of the little waterfall, and she knew he would turn at once to watch and make sure she didn't brush the moisture off her eyelashes — except that he didn't. Instead he clung there, gazing forward.

Ama wiped her eyes, because the game was canceled by the surprise her dæmon was feeling. As she pulled herself up to look over the edge, she gasped and fell still, because she had never seen a creature like this one: a bear, but four times the size of the black bears in the forest, and ivory white, with a black nose and black eyes that glared down from the top of the waterfall, only an arm's length away from her.

"Who's that?" said the voice of a boy, and while Ama couldn't understand the words, she caught the sense easily enough.

After a moment the boy appeared next to the bear: fierce-looking, with frowning eyes and a jutting jaw. And was that a dæmon beside him, bird-shaped? It was unlike any dæmon she'd seen before, but there was nothing else it could be. It flew to Kulang and chirruped briefly: Friends. We shan't hurt you. The great white bear had not moved at all.

"Come up," said the boy, and again her dæmon made sense of it for her. Watching the bear with superstitious awe, she scrambled up to the top of the little waterfall and stood shyly on the rocks beside them. Kulang became a butterfly and settled for a moment on her cheek, but left it to flutter around the other dæmon, who sat still on the boy's hand.

"Will," he said, pointing to himself.

She responded, "Ama."

Each said the other's name, and very soon she grew less nervous, though Ama remained frightened of the boy almost more than of the bear: he had a horrible wound: two of his fingers were missing. She felt dizzy when she saw it.

The bear turned away and trod along the milky stream, occasionally lying down as if to cool himself in the water, which was so close to his own color. The boy's dæmon took to the air and darted and fluttered with Kulang among the rainbows, and slowly they began to understand each other. And what should the boy be looking for but a cave, with a girl asleep?

The words tumbled out of her in response. "I know! I know where it is! And she's been kept asleep by a woman who says she is her mother, but no mother would be so cruel, would she? She makes her drink something to keep her asleep, but I have some herbs to make her wake up, if only I could get to her!" She spoke so quickly that Will could only shrug and spread his hands. It took the dæmons a minute or more of talking before the understanding came into Will's mind.

"Iorek," he called, and the bear lumbered along the bed of the stream, licking his chops, for he had just swallowed a fish. "Iorek," Will said, "I think this girl is saying she knows where Lyra is. What I'll do is go with her to have a look, while you stay here and watch."

Iorek Byrnison said nothing, but stood foursquare in the stream as Will concealed his rucksack behind a rock and buckled on the knife before clambering down through the rainbows with Ama. Will had to brush his eyes frequently and peer through the dazzle to see where it was safe to put his feet, and the mist that filled the air was icy. No wonder Iorek was enjoying the water; Will could only imagine how much he had suffered from the heat of the journey.

When they reached the foot of the falls, Will settled the knife more comfortably at his waist and wiped the moisture out of his eyes once more. Ama indicated that they should go carefully and make no noise, and they walked in single file down the slope, between mossy rocks and great gnarled pine trunks where the dappled light danced intensely green and a billion tiny insects scraped and sang. Down, and farther down, and still the sunlight followed them, deep into the valley, while overhead the branches tossed unceasingly in a bright sky.

Then Ama halted. Will drew himself behind the massive bole of a cedar, and looked where she was pointing.

Through a tangle of leaves and branches he saw the side of a cliff rising up to the right, and partway up—

"Mrs Coulter," he whispered, and his heart was beating fast.

It was just a brief movement, but he waited a moment, and then he saw her fully. She came out from behind a buttress in the rock and made a gesture as if she were throwing ashes or dust away, and then she reached forward and shook out a thick-leaved branch. Had she been sweeping the floor with it? Her hair was bound round with a scarf and her sleeves were rolled up. Will could never have imagined her looking so domestic.

But there was a flash of gold, and that vicious monkey appeared, leaping up to the woman's shoulder.

Together, as if they suspected something, they looked all around, and suddenly Mrs Coulter did not look domestic at all.

Ama was whispering urgently, and Will understood. She was afraid of the golden monkey, because he was so greedy and cruel; he liked to catch bats in the cave and tear their wings off while they were alive; and Ama wouldn't go near the cave when the woman was there—but she never left! What could they do?

"Does she have anyone else with her? No soldiers, or anything like that?" he said.

But Ama didn't know. She had never seen soldiers, but people did talk about strange and frightening men, or they might be ghosts, seen on the mountainsides at night...But there had always been ghosts in the mountains, everyone knew that. So they might not have anything to do with the woman. But she did have a pistol.

Well, thought Will, if she doesn't leave the cave and Lyra's in there, I'll have to go and pay a call.

He said, "What is this drug you have? What do you have to do with it to wake her up?"

Ama explained.

"And where is it now?"

In her home, she said. Hidden away.

"All right. Wait here and don't come near. She mustn't know that I know about you, and you mustn't say that you know me. When do you next bring her food?"

Half an hour before sunset, Ama's dæmon said.

"Bring the herbs with you then," said Will. "I'll meet you here."

She watched with great unease as he set off along the path. Surely he didn't believe what she had just told him about the monkey dæmon, or he wouldn't walk so recklessly up to the cave.

Actually, Will felt very nervous. All the noises of the forest seemed to be very clear as he walked along the path, and all his senses seemed to be purified, so that he was aware of the tiniest insects drifting in the sun shafts and the movement of the clouds above, even though all his attention was fixed on the cave mouth.

"Balthamos," he whispered, and the angel dæmon flew to his shoulder as a bright-eyed small bird with red wings. "Keep close to me, and watch that monkey."

"Then look to your right," said Balthamos tersely.

And Will saw a patch of golden light at the cave mouth that had a face and eyes and was watching them. They were no more than twenty paces away. He stood still, and the golden monkey turned his head to look in the cave, said something, and turned back.

Will felt for the knife handle and walked on.

When he reached the cave, the woman was waiting for him.

She was sitting at her ease in the little canvas chair, with a book on her lap, watching him calmly. She was wearing traveler's clothes of khaki, but so well were they cut and so graceful was her figure that they looked like the highest of high fashion, and the little spray of red blossom she'd pinned to her shirt front looked like the most elegant of jewels. Her hair shone and her dark eyes glittered, and her bare legs gleamed golden in the sunlight.

She smiled. Will very nearly smiled in response, because her expression was so kindly. He was so unused to the sweetness and gentleness a woman could put into a smile that it almost unsettled him completely.

"You're Will," she said in that low, intoxicating voice.

"How do you know my name?" he said harshly.

"Lyra says it in her sleep."

"Where is she?"


"I want to see her."

"Come on, then," she said, and got to her feet, dropping the book on the chair.

For the first time since coming into her presence, Will looked at the monkey dæmon. His fur was long and lustrous, each hair seeming to be made of pure gold, much finer than a human's, and his little face and hands were black. Will remembered that face well from the evening when he and Lyra stole the alethiometer back from Sir Charles Latrom in the house in Headington: contorted with hate, the monkey had tried to tear him apart with his teeth until Will had slashed left-right with the knife and forced him backward, so that he could close the window and shut away Mrs. Coultour and her dæmon in a different world. Will thought that nothing on earth would make him turn his back on that monkey now.

But Balthamos was watching closely, and Will stepped carefully over the rocky floor of the cave and followed Mrs Coulter to the little still figure lying in the shadows.

And there she was, his dearest friend, asleep. So small she looked! He was amazed at how all that force and fire that was Lyra awake could look so gentle and mild when she was sleeping. At her neck Pantalaimon lay in his polecat shape, his fur glistening, and Lyra's hair lay damp across her forehead.

He knelt down beside her and lifted the hair away. Her forehead was hot. Out of the corner of his eye, Will saw the golden monkey crouching to spring, and set his hand on the knife; but Mrs Coulter shook her head very slightly, and the monkey let the tension go.

Without seeming to, Will was memorizing the exact layout of the cave: the shape and size of every rock, the slope of the floor, the exact height of the ceiling above the sleeping girl. He would need to find his way through it in the dark, and this was the only chance he'd have to see it first.

"So you see, she's quite safe," said Mrs Coulter.

"Why are you keeping her here? And why don't you let her wake up?"

"Let's sit down."

She didn't take the chair, but sat with him on the moss-covered rocks at the entrance to the cave. She sounded so kindly, and there was such sad wisdom in her eyes, that Will's mistrust deepened. He'd been on guard, of course, ever since he'd come into her presence, but now he felt that every word she said was a lie, every action concealed a threat, and every smile masked an impulse of deceit. He would have to be doubly, trebly on guard, and he'd have to deceive her as well. But maybe (he thought with a little thrill of pleasure) his own life had been preparing him for this all the time; for he knew no one as good at deceiving as he had had to be.

Right, he thought. I can deal with you.

"Would you like something to drink?" she said. "Look, I'll have some too...It's quite safe. Look."

She cut open some brownish, wrinkled fruit and pressed the cloudy green juice into two small beakers.

She sipped one and offered the other to Will, who had watched so closely he knew she could have put nothing in it; so he sipped as well, and found it fresh and astringent.

"How did you find your way here?" she said.

"It wasn't hard to follow you."

"Evidently. Have you got Lyra's alethiometer?"

"Yes," he said, and let her work out for herself whether or not he could read it.

"And you've got a knife, I understand."

"Sir Charles told you that, did he?"

"Sir Charles? Oh — Carlo, of course. Yes, he did. It sounds fascinating. May I see it?"

"No, of course not," he said. "Why are you keeping Lyra here?"

"To keep her safe," she said, "because I love her. I'm her mother. She's in appalling danger and I won't let anything happen to her."

"Danger from what?" said Will stolidly.

"Well...," she said, and set her beaker down on the ground, leaning forward so that her hair swung down on either side of her face. When she sat up again, she tucked it back behind her ears with both hands, and Will smelled the fragrance of some scent she was wearing combined with the fresh smell of her body, and he felt disturbed and embarrassed.

Mrs Coulter gave no indication that she'd noticed, and went on: "Look, I'm going to do something unlikely, Will, I'm going to tell you the complete truth. I don't know how you came to be mixed up with my daughter, and I don't know what you know already, and I certainly don't know if I can trust you; but equally, I'm tired of having to lie. So here it is: the complete and utter truth.

"I found out that my daughter is in danger from the very people I used to belong to — from the Church. Frankly, I think they would even kill her if they knew where she was. And I found myself in a dilemma, you see: obey the Church, or save my daughter. I was a faithful servant of the Church, too. There was no one more zealous; I gave my life to it; I served it with a passion.

"But I had this daughter...

"She knows better than anyone that I didn't look after her well when she was young. She was taken away from me and brought up by strangers. Perhaps that made it hard for her to trust me. But when she was growing up, I saw the danger that she was in, and three times I've tried to save her from it. This is the third time. I've had to become a renegade and hide in this remote place, and now to learn that you found us so easily — well, you can understand, that worries me. The Church won't be far behind. And they want to kill her, Will. They will not let her live."

"Why? Why do they hate her so much?"

"Because of what they think she's going to do. I don't know what that is; I wish I did, because then I could keep her even more safe. But all I know is that they hate her, and they have no mercy, none."

She leaned forward, talking urgently and quietly and closely.

"Why am I telling you this?" she went on. "Can I trust you? I think I have to. I can't escape anymore, there's nowhere else to go. And you might be a friend. If you're a friend of Lyra's, you might be my friend too. And I do need friends, I do need help. Everything's against me now. The Church will destroy me too, as well as Lyra, if they find us. Asriel, Lyra's father, has no interest in me anymore. I'm alone, Will, just me in a cave with my daughter, and all the forces of all the worlds are trying to track us down. And here you are, to show how easy it is to find us, apparently. What are you going to do, Will? What do you want?"

"Why are you keeping her asleep?" he said, stubbornly avoiding her questions.

"Because what would happen if I let her wake? She'd run away at once. And she wouldn't last five days."

"Yes," said Will. "But why don't you explain it to her and give her the choice?"

"Do you think she'd listen? Do you think even if she listened she'd believe me? She doesn't trust me. She hates me, Will. You must know that. She despises me. I, well...I don't know how to say it...I love her so much I've given up everything I had — a great career, great happiness, position and wealth — everything, to come to this cave in the mountains and live on dry bread and sour fruit, just so I can keep my daughter alive. And if to keep her alive I have to keep her asleep, then so be it. But I must keep her alive. Wouldn't your mother do as much for you?"

Will felt a jolt of shock and rage that Mrs Coulter had dared to bring his own mother in to support her argument. Then the first shock was complicated by Will's knowledge that his mother, after all, had not protected him; he had had to protect her. Did Mrs Coulter love her child more than Elaine Parry loved hers? But that was unfair: his mother wasn't well.

Either Mrs Coulter did not know the boil of feelings that her simple words had lanced, or she was monstrously clever. Her sad and beautiful eyes watched blandly as Will reddened and then shifted uncomfortably; and for a moment Mrs Coulter looked uncannily like her daughter.

"But what are you going to do?" she said.

"Well, I've seen Lyra now," Will said, "and she's alive, that's clear, and she's safe, I suppose. That's all I was going to do. So now I've done it I can go and help Lord Asriel like I was supposed to."

That did surprise her a little, but she mastered it. "You don't mean — I thought you might help us," she said quite calmly, not pleading but questioning. "With the knife. I saw what you did at Sir Charles's house. You could make it safe for us, couldn't you? You could help us get away?"

"I'm going to go now," Will said, standing up.

She held out her hand. A rueful smile, a shrug, and a nod as if to a skillful opponent who'd made a good move at the chessboard: that was what her body said. He was very nearly captivated. He liked her, because she was brave, and because she seemed like a more complicated and richer and deeper Lyra. He couldn't help but like her.

So he shook her hand, finding it firm and cool and soft. She turned to the golden monkey, who had been sitting behind her all the time, and a look passed between them that Will couldn't interpret.

Then she turned back with a smile.

"Good-bye," he said.

She said quietly, "Good-bye, Will."

He left the cave, knowing her eyes were following, and he didn't look back once. Ama was nowhere in sight. He walked back the way he'd come, keeping to the path until he heard the sound of the waterfall ahead.

"She's lying," he said to Iorek Byrnison thirty minutes later. "Of course she's lying. She'd lie even if it made things worse for herself, because she just loves lying too much to stop."

"What is your plan, then?" said the bear, who was basking in the sunlight, his belly flat down in a patch of snow among the rocks.

Will walked up and down, wondering whether he could use the trick that had worked in Headington: use the knife to move into another world and then go to a spot right next to where Lyra lay, cut through into this world, pull her through into safety, and then close up again. That was the obvious thing to do, why did he hesitate?

Balthamos knew. In his own angel shape, shimmering like a heat haze in the sunlight, he said, "You were foolish to go to her. All you want to do now is see the woman again."

Will scowled, but it was true. He had been captivated by Mrs Coulter. All his thoughts referred to her: when he thought of Lyra, it was to wonder how like her mother she'd be when she grew up; if he thought of the Church, it was to wonder how many of the priests and cardinals were under her spell; if he thought of his own dead father, it was to wonder whether he would have detested her or admired her; and if he thought of his own mother...

He felt his heart grimace. He walked away from the bear and stood on a rock from which he could see across the whole valley. In the clear cold air he could hear the distant tok-tok of someone chopping wood, he could hear a dull iron bell around the neck of a sheep, he could hear the rustling of the tree tops far below. The tiniest crevices in the mountains at the horizon were clear and sharp to his eyes, as were the vultures wheeling over some near-dead creature many miles away.

There was no doubt about it: Balthamos was right. The woman had cast a spell on him. Nevertheless, it was pleasant and tempting to think about those beautiful eyes and the sweetness of that voice, and to recall the way her arms rose to push back that shining hair...

With an effort he came back to his senses and heard another sound altogether: a far-distant drone. He turned this way and that to locate it and found it in the north, the very direction he and Iorek had come from.

"Zeppelins," said the bear's voice, startling Will, for he hadn't heard the great creature come near. Iorek stood beside him looking in the same direction and then reared up high, fully twice the height of Will, his gaze intent.

"How many?"

"Eight of them," said Iorek after a minute, and then Will saw them too: little specks in a line.

"Can you tell how long it will take them to get here?" Will said.

"They will be here not long after nightfall."

"So we won't have very much darkness. That's a pity."

"What is your plan?"

"To make an opening and take Lyra through into another world, and close it again before her mother follows. The girl has a drug to wake Lyra up, but I can't understand what she says about how to use it, so she'll have to come into the cave as well. I don't want to put her in danger, though. Maybe you could distract Mrs Coulter while we do that."

The bear grunted and closed his eyes. Will looked around for the angel and saw his shape outlined in droplets of mist in the late afternoon light.

"Balthamos," he said, "I'm going back into the forest now, to find a safe place to make the first opening. I need you to keep watch for me and tell me the moment she comes near — her or that dæmon of hers."

Balthamos nodded and raised his wings to shake off the moisture. Then he soared up into the cold air and glided down toward the treetops as Will clambered down below him to search for a world where Lyra would be safe.

In the creaking, thrumming double bulkhead of the leading zeppelin, the dragonflies were hatching. The Lady Salmakia bent over the splitting cocoon of the electric blue one, easing the damp, filmy wings clear, taking care to let her face be the first thing that imprinted itself on the many-faceted eyes, soothing the fine-stretched nerves, whispering its name to the brilliant creature, teaching it who it was.

In a few minutes, the Chevalier Tialys would do the same to his. It was very nearly ready to be born. But for now, he was sending a message on the lodestone resonator, and his attention was fully occupied with the bow and his fingers as they played over the heavy stone.

He transmitted:

"To Lord Roke:

"We are three hours from the estimated time of arrival at the valley. The Consistorial Court of Discipline intends to send a squad to the cave as soon as they land. It will divide into two units.

"The first unit will fight their way into the cave and kill the child, removing her head so as to prove her death and bringing it back. As a secondary objective they are to capture the woman, though if that is impossible they are to kill her.

"The second unit is to capture the boy alive and bring him back to the zeppelins.

"The remainder of the force will engage the gyropters of King Ogunwe. They estimate that the gyropters will arrive shortly after the zeppelins. In accordance with your orders, the Lady Salmakia and I will shortly leave the zeppelin and fly directly to the cave, where we shall try to defend the girl against the first unit and hold them at bay until reinforcements arrive.

"We await your response."

The answer came almost immediately.

"To the Chevalier Tialys:

"In the light of your report, here is a change of plan.

"In order to prevent the enemy from killing the child, which would be the worst possible outcome, you and the Lady Salmakia are to involve the boy in your plans. If this involves allowing him to open another world and take her into it, then let him do so, and follow them through. Stay by their side at all times."

The Chevalier Tialys replied:

"To Lord Roke:

"Your message is heard and understood. The Lady and I shall leave at once."

The little spy closed the resonator and gathered his equipment together.

"Tialys," came a whisper from the dark, "it's hatching. You should come now."

He leapt up to the strut where his dragonfly had been struggling into the world and eased it gently free of the broken silk. Stroking its great fierce head, he lifted the heavy antennae, still moist and curled, and let the creature taste the flavor of his skin until it was entirely under his command.

Then he quickly slung the pack over his shoulder and sliced through the oiled fabric of the zeppelin's skin. Beside him, the lady had mounted her dragonfly, and now she urged it through the narrow gap into the hammering gusts. The long, frail wings trembled as she squeezed through, and then the joy of flight took over the creature, and it plunged into the wind. A few seconds later Tialys joined her in the wild air, his mount eager to fight the swift-gathering dusk itself.

The two of them whirled upward in the icy currents, took a few moments to get their bearings, and set their course for the valley.

As darkness fell, this was how things stood.

In his adamant tower, Lord Asriel paced up and down. His attention was fixed on the little figure beside the lodestone resonator, and every other report had been diverted, every part of his mind was directed to the news that came to the small square block of stone under the lamplight.

King Ogunwe sat in the cabin of his gyropter, swiftly working out a plan to counter the intentions of the Consistorial Court, which he'd just learned about from the Gallivespian in his own aircraft. The navigator was scribbling some figures on a scrap of paper, which he handed to the pilot. The essential thing, Ogunwe knew, was speed: getting his own troops on the ground first would make all the difference.

The gyropters were faster in the air than zeppelins, but they were still some way behind. Strapped into their seats in the zeppelins, the grenadiers of the Swiss Guard were attending to their kit. Their crossbows were deadly over five hundred yards, and with the help of the newly developed Lanzspring lever, an archer could load and fire fifteen bolts a minute. The spiral fins, made of horn, slotted automatically into grooves that gave the bolt a spin and made the weapon as accurate as a rifle. It was also, of course, silent, which in a situation like this was a great advantage.

Mrs Coulter lay awake in the entrance to the cave. The golden monkey was restless, and frustrated: the bats had left the cave with the coming of darkness, and there was nothing to torment. He prowled about by Mrs Coulter's sleeping bag, scratching with a little horny finger at the occasional glow-flies that settled in the cave and smeared their luminescence over the rock.

Lyra lay hot and almost as restless, but deep, deep asleep, locked into oblivion by the draught her mother had forced down her only an hour before. There was a dream that had occupied her for a long time, and now it had returned, and little whimpers of pity and sorrow and rage and Lyratic resolution shook her breast and her throat, making Pantalaimon grind his polecat teeth in sympathy.

Not far away, under the wind-tossed pines on the forest path, Will and Ama were making their way toward the cave. Will had tried to explain to Ama what he was going to do, but her dæmon could make no sense of it, and when he cut a window and showed her, she was so terrified that she nearly fainted. He had to move calmly and speak quietly in order to keep her nearby, because she refused to let him take the powder from her, or even to tell him how it was to be used. In the end he had to say simply, "Keep very quiet and follow me," and hope that she would.

Iorek, in his armor, was somewhere close by, waiting to hold off the soldiers from the zeppelins so as to give Will enough time to work. What neither of them knew was that there was another force also closing in: the wind from time to time brought a far-distant clatter to Iorek's ears, but whereas he knew what zeppelin engines sounded like, he had never heard a gyropter, and he could make nothing of it. Balthamos might have been able to tell them, but Will was troubled about him. The angel had been withdrawing farther into his grief: he had been silent, distracted, and sullen for some time. It made talking to Ama harder too.

As they paused on the path, Will said to the air, "Balthamos? Are you there?"

"Yes," said the angel tonelessly.

"Balthamos, please stay with me. Stay close and warn me of any danger. I need you."

"I haven't abandoned you yet," said the angel.

That was the best Will could get out of him.

And in the buffeting midair, Tialys and Salmakia soared over the valley, trying to see down to the cave. The dragonflies would do exactly as they were told, but their bodies couldn't easily cope with cold, and besides, they were tossed about dangerously in the wild wind. Their riders guided them low, among the shelter of the trees, and then flew from branch to branch, taking their bearings in the gathering dark.

Part of Will's reason for going to the cave that afternoon, of course, had been to see how the land lay and where he might best cut through, just as he'd done in Sir Charles's study in Headington.

So now he and Ama crept up in the windy moonlight to the closest point they could reach that was still out of sight of the cave mouth. It happened to be behind a heavy-leaved bush just off the path, and there he cut a window in the air.

Since he could now find his way into several different worlds, he tried five times before finding one that had the same conformation of ground. It was a bare, rocky place, where the moon glared down from a starry sky onto a bleached bone-white ground where little insects crawled and uttered their scraping, chittering sounds over a world-wide silence.

Ama followed him through, fingers and thumbs moving furiously to protect her from the devils that must be haunting this ghastly place; and her dæmon, adapting at once, became a lizard and scampered over the rocks with sharp feet.

Will saw a problem. It was simply that the brilliant moonlight on the bone-colored rocks would shine like a lantern once he opened the window in Mrs Coulter's cave. He'd have to open it quickly, pull Lyra through, and close it again at once. They could wake her up in this world, where it was safer.

He stopped on the dazzling slope and said to Ama, "We must be very quick and completely silent. No noise, not even a whisper."

She understood, though she was frightened. The little packet of powder was in her breast pocket, she'd checked it a dozen times, and she and her dæmon had rehearsed what they should do so often that she thought they could do it in total darkness.

They climbed on, Will measuring it all carefully until he estimated that they would be well inside the cave. Then he took the knife and cut the smallest possible window he could see through, no larger than the circle he could make with thumb and forefinger.

He put his eye to it quickly to keep the moonlight out and looked through. There it all was: he'd calculated well. He could see the cave mouth ahead, the rocks dark against the night sky; he could see the shape of Mrs Coulter, asleep, with her golden dæmon beside her; he could even see the monkey's tail, trailing negligently over the sleeping bag.

Changing his angle and looking closer, he saw the rock behind which Lyra was lying. He couldn't see her, though. Was he too close? He shut that window, moved back a step or two, and opened again.

She wasn't there.

"Listen," he said to Ama, "the woman has moved her and I can't see where she is. I'm going to have to go through and look around the cave to find her, and cut through as soon as I've done that. So stand back — keep out of the way so I don't accidentally cut you when I come back. If I get stuck there for any reason, go back and wait by the other window, where we came in."

"We should both go through," Ama said, "because I know how to wake her, and you don't, and I know the cave better than you do too."

Her face was stubborn, her lips pressed together, her fists clenched. Her lizard dæmon acquired a ruff and raised it slowly around his neck.

Will said, "Oh, very well. But we go through very quickly and in complete silence, and you do exactly what I say, at once, you understand?"

She nodded and patted her pocket yet again to check the herbs.

Will made a small opening low down, looked through, and enlarged it swiftly, getting through in a moment on hands and knees. Ama was right behind him, and altogether the window was open for less than ten seconds.

They crouched on the cave floor behind a large rock, with Balthamos beside them, their eyes taking some moments to adjust from the moon-drenched brilliance of the other world. Inside the cave it was much darker, and much more full of sound: the wind in the trees, largely, but below that another sound, too. It was the roar of a zeppelin's engine, and it wasn't far away.

With the knife in his right hand, Will balanced himself carefully and looked around.

Ama was doing the same, and her owl-shaped dæmon was peering this way and that; but Lyra was not at this end of the cave. There was no doubt about it.

Will raised his head over the rock and took a long, steady look down toward the entrance, where Mrs Coulter and her dæmon lay deep in sleep.

Then his heart lurched. There lay Lyra, stretched out in the depths of her sleep, right next to Mrs Coulter. Their outlines had merged in the darkness; no wonder he hadn't seen her.

Will touched Ama's hand and pointed.

"We'll just have to do it very carefully," he whispered.

Something was happening outside. The roar of the zeppelins was now much louder than the wind in the trees, and lights were moving about too, shining down through the branches from above. The quicker they got Lyra out, the better, and that meant darting down there now before Mrs Coulter woke up, cutting through, pulling her to safety, and closing again.

He whispered that to Ama. She nodded.

Then, as he was about to move, Mrs Coulter woke up.

She stirred and said something, and instantly the golden monkey sprang up. Will could see his silhouette against the lights outside, crouching, attentive, and then Mrs Coulter herself sat up, shading her eyes to look outside.

Will's left hand was tight around Ama's wrist. Mrs Coulter got up, fully dressed, lithe, alert, not at all as if she'd just been asleep. Perhaps she'd been awake all the time. She and the golden monkey were crouching inside the cave mouth, watching and listening, as the light from the zeppelins swung from side to side above the treetops and the engines roared, and shouts, male voices warning or calling orders, made it clear that they should move fast, very fast.

He squeezed Ama's wrist and darted forward under the cover of the sounds from the sky, watching the ground in case he stumbled, running fast and low.

Then he was at Lyra's side, and she was deep asleep, Pantalaimon around her neck; and then Will held up the knife and felt carefully, and a second later there would have been an opening to pull Lyra through into safety—

But he looked up. He looked at Mrs Coulter. She had turned around silently, and the glare from the sky, reflected off the damp cave wall, hit her face, and for a moment it wasn't her face at all; it was his own mother's face, reproaching him, and his heart quailed from sorrow; and then as he thrust with the knife, his mind left the point, and with a wrench and a crack, the knife fell in pieces to the ground.

It was broken.

Now he couldn't cut his way out at all.

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October 2000

The Amber Spyglass: His Dark Materials, Book III

The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping conclusion, marking the third and final volume as the trilogy's most powerful. Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Burnison the armored bear, The Amber Spyglass introduces a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see the Dust; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. This final volume brings some stark revelations, as well: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live -- and who will die -- for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that -- in a shocking outcome -- will reveal the secret of Dust. Read our exclusive interview with Philip Pullman, and be sure to join us for our live chat!

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Interviews & Essays

October 2000

The Man Behind the Magic: An Interview with Philip Pullman

Barnes & Who is your favorite character to write and why?

Philip Pullman: I like them all, of course. People are surprised when I say that I like Mrs. Coulter, but what I mean, of course, is that I like writing about her, because she’s so completely free of any moral constraint. There’s nothing she wouldn't do, and that’s a great delight for a storyteller, because it means your story can be unconstrained, too. I’m not sure I’d like to know her in real life (Well, of course I would; she’d be fascinating). Writers have always enjoyed the villains, and so do readers, if they’re honest.

B& Can you give us some insight into what daemons are? Why don’t non-humans have them? They're a fascinating idea. I wish I had one.

PP: I was discovering more about daemons all the way through -- right up to the very end of The Amber Spyglass. And I’m sure there are other aspects of them that I haven’t discovered yet. I don’t want to say anything about them which will give away some of the plot of the final book, but I will say that the daemon is that part of you that helps you grow towards wisdom. I don’t know where the idea of them came from -- it just emerged as I was trying to begin the story. I suddenly realized that Lyra had a daemon, and it all grew out of that. Of course, the daemons had to represent something important in the meaning of the story, and not be merely picturesque; otherwise they’d just get in the way. So there is a big difference between the daemons of children and adults, because the story as a whole is about growing up, or innocence and experience.

Underlying the whole story is a myth of origin and creation, which I discovered as I wrote. I don’t make it explicit anywhere, but I relied on it all the way through. It explains where daemons come from and why we have them. I’m thinking of doing a sort of companion volume, which would be a natural place for that myth to be written down, so watch this space!

B& "It was so beautiful it was almost holy." This is how Lyra's first impression of the Northern Lights is described in The Golden Compass. Have you ever seen the Northern Lights?

PP: No, I haven’t. But I’ve been to Edmonton in Alberta on three separate occasions, and each time it was a beautiful, clear night and the people said: We were bound to see them, they turned up every night, it was just the right time of year, there was no question of it, they were here last night, you should have seen them, you could bet your life they’ll give a good show tonight, and so on and so on. And did they show up? Not a flicker! I’m beginning to think they’re just one of these traveler’s tales.

B& Why did you decide to set the story in a world that is similar to our own, but not quite the same?

PP: There are many answers. Laziness, perhaps. I couldn’t be bothered to do enough research to set a story in the real world and get it all right, so I just used the stuff I already knew and made up the rest. That might be one answer. Or else I was too idle to make up a complete new world, so I just made up some of it and when I ran out of energy I used some other stuff I knew about the real world. That might be another.

Another answer might be that I thought it would be more intriguing for the reader -- except that I don’t think about my readers very much, so that wouldn’t be altogether true.

Another might be that I like reading that sort of book myself, so I just did the sort of thing I liked reading. But in fact, I don’t know many other books that have this sort of background, so that wouldn’t be completely true either.

Another might be that I didn’t actually choose it at all. The story came to me in this form and with this setting, and I had no say in the matter. I just had to do what it said. And that would be the truest answer, perhaps. But there’s a bit of truth in all of them.

B& Why do you think fantasy literature is so appealing to adults as well as to children?

PP: I haven’t the faintest idea. Oddly enough, it doesn’t appeal to me very much. I read very little fantasy. I prefer straightforward realism, and I like that because I can connect with it, because I feel it tells me about important things, because it’s real, because it’s true. So it’s no use asking me why fantasy appeals to other people. You’d have to ask them!

B& Did you write His Dark Materials with a specific age group in mind?

PP: No. I don’t think about the readers at all. If I think about the audience I’d like to have, I don’t think about a particular age group, or a particular gender, or a particular class or ethnic group or anything specific at all. I’d like the largest audience possible, please. When you say, This book is for children, what you’re understood as saying is This book is NOT for adults. I don’t want that. I’d like to think that I’m telling the sort of story that holdeth children from play and old men from the chimney corner, in the old phrase of Sir Philip Sidney. Everyone is welcome, and no one is shut out, and I hope each reader will find a tale worth spending time with.

B& The main hero of your trilogy is Lyra -- a loveable, extremely impressive girl/young woman who has a large task on her hands. It's said by the people who have insight into Lyra's importance that she must fulfill her destiny without knowing what her destiny is. Can you explain why?

PP: Because it’s her nature that has to make a choice, not her conscience. If she knows that she’s about to do something fateful, her awareness, her self-consciousness will get in the way and spoil everything. So it’s a very delicate balance that has to be kept.

B& How much will you miss the characters now that you’ve finished the story?

PP: A huge amount. I’ve lived with them for seven years. In another sense, I’ve lived with them all my life because everything I’ve ever learned has gone into this book. It was very hard letting it go. I kept wanting to call it back and adjust this bit or that, but you have to let go in the end. Lyra and Will and the others are on their own now. I hope they find old friends, and make new ones.

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Reading Group Guide

The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping conclusion, marking the final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy.

Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison, The Amber Spyglass introduces a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel.

And with rich characters and mounting suspense come startling revelations, too: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live - and who will die - for love. And all the while, war rages in the Kingdom of Heaven - the shocking outcome of this brutal battle will uncover the secret of Dust.

In The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman deftly weaves the cliffhangers and mysteries of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife into an earth- shattering conclusion - and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic. The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of each of the books in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 671 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Controversy: The Godless World of Pullman? And how this series ties not just its OWN ends together, but makes people everywhere listen...

    This book is the third in the series 'His Dark Materials' by Philip Pullman. So much controversy has surrounded this book, and this is why. In 'The Amber Spyglass', Lyra and Will, the heroine and hero of the story, learn about growing up, Dust finally settling, having their daemons (spirit in animal form) find their permanent form, love, and the existence of God. now Pullman was a devout atheist when he was alive, so it shouldn't have been shocking what he said in his books about God and His angels, but many people thought it was. This book was ahead of its time, and although considered a 'children's' or 'young adults' book, it is just as easily adult literature. In his metaphorical ways, Pullman discusses the possibility of other worlds, evolution of these worlds, a young teenager's blooming sexuality, how politics AND religion can corrupt people's individual thinking, and how the interconnections between worlds, and the organisms in them can bring not just one species or world, but everything, falling down around our heads.
    One of the main issues in this book was the way God, or the 'Authority' was described, not as an all-powerful being, but simply an archangel, dying of old age, and how the hapless Lyra, and her friend Will, only being thirteen or fourteen, don't realize that by setting the Authority free of His prison, they have killed Him. You see, only the Angels and witches of Lyra's world have free access to all of the adjoining worlds in the universe, and Will carries a knife (see The Subtle Knife, Book Two of His Dark Materials) that can rip holes from one world to another. And Lyra carries an alethiometer, or a golden compass (see The Golden Compass, Book One of His Dark Materials) that can answer any question asked of it.
    After Lyra and her daemon, Pan, are kidnapped by Lyra's evil, theologian mother, Mrs. Coulter, Will and the polar bear king Iorek have to rescue her, as Lyra represents the rebirth of Eve, 'the temptress'. Also, Lyra's father, a scientist, is after her, to protect her from the Church, who believe they have to kill her, to stop the replay of the Fall from Grace described in the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. Will tears a whole in another world, where he and Lyra escape to, and they find themselves in the world of the dead, trying to find a way out, so the dead can be free to evaporate into the air.
    The Amber Spyglass is not a book to read simply for leisure, for once you read it once, you will find yourself going back to pet its spine maybe a year afterwards, to open it to a favorite spot, and discover new meanings behind every metaphorical phrase in the book. It is a thing to mull over, and smile at your new discoveries.
    One part that describes both evolution at its highest and Pullman's great ability to imagine things outside of our world, is the world in which no humans exist, but a certain Dr. Mary Malone stumbles upon, and discovers a completely, previously unheard of intelligent being, the mulefa. Their world evolved in a completely different way than out own, and theirs ties into both Mary's and Will's, and Lyra's worlds, in the way of Dust, or the beginning of the original Fall.
    It may seem like a lot of information, but Pullman's writing pull you in from the first page and you are stuck until you hear Lyra's last words, 'Build the Republic of Heaven', and the book spits you out, jumbled and ready to try and find the next in the series, but of course, as in all great endings, there is n

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Amber Spyglass

    I really enjoyed reading this series, but I thought the Amber Spyglass was not as good as the first two. I would have liked it more if one of the main characters were the narrators of the book. I felt like I needed a deeper understanding of their emotions, or something that gave the characters a greater depth. All and all, I still would definitely still recommend this series to all the fantasy lovers out there. This story has fantastical worlds and imaginative characters.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    Very good ending to the trilogy

    Is a very good ending to a very good sci-fi trilogy. Can definitely see his anti-religion and anti-God points of view very well in it. If that bothers you then stay away, but if you like science fiction and are looking for a good series to read then try this out.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Milton would Have Loved It!!

    Well this isn't too original since others have said it well before me, but Pullman managed to pull off an inverted Paradise Lost in the third part of this very thoughtful and belief-challenging trilogy. I will warn you that if you are a devout Christian, you may get about three-quarters of the way through and want to throw the book out the nearest window. Don't. Instead, think about what is said and what is happening. I don't know about you, and it may sound strange, especially if you have finished the trilogy, but I found myself more assured than ever that life on Earth is only a small part of an infinite whole. And yet each of us has the capacity within ourselves to make that small part of our existence rich an fulfilling ( or shallow, selfish and ultimately devastating).

    On the other hand, you can read the Dark Materials trilogy as just a great story. Pullman says that was what was in his mind when he wrote it. No great philosophy - just good story-telling. C'mon Mr. Pullman - do you expect me to believe that?

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013


    This book is very good.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2013


    The final book in the series does not dissapoint

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013


    this is my favorite series. Pullman is a genious and he characters are awesome. The plot is so unique and even thought the ending is bittersweet, it is the best book ever!!! Ive read it about5 times and will never get tired of it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2014

    The Amber Spyglass

    I want to start off by saying I really enjoyed the first two books. This one on the other hand I had trouble getting through. It did not peak my interests, but I continued to read it to find oit what happened to the characters. There was several areas that seemed drawn out and even repetative. When discribing how characters are feeling they almost always have 3 or 4 different emotions seperated by and...and...and. The other books were like this too, but this one started to bother me with a lot of its dialog and even narraration. In all I was pretty confused with why Lyra and Will were even going the places they were. Luckily I pushed through to get it to weave together, but ultimately it felt like it was expanded to create more pages.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2014

    Christians Pullman is not againts your religion

    This a fantsy novel and he talks about all of the religions not just chritianity so he is being rude or offensive

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2013

    A disappointing end to a spectacular series

    Both "The Golden Compass" and its sequel were beautiful novels, with a wonderful plot, believable characters, and a plot twist here and ther, so I expected the third book would also be great. However, I didn't even get past the fifth chapter: The book was both boring and offensive. I am Christian and I am usually not bothered by other religious opinions, so I was surprised with myself when I realized how irritated I was by the idea that God can be destroyed and the claim that there is no heaven. The homosexuality theme did not bother me, but Balthamos and Baruch were highly unlikable to me. They were confusing and I thought them very unnecessary. Ama was a completely random character and Lyra's dream about Roger kept getting interrupted, which I absolutely hated. Also, it has come to my attention that there may have some sexual activity between children, which shocked me. Overall, an awful book (PS. RIP to Lee and Hester) :(

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    I am a Christian and...

    I loved this book. And harry potter, percy jackson and twighlight. Fantasy is not real! Do not take it so serioudly. God is fine with you reading this, but not with you letting it afect your faith. Don't be mean people. Phillup pullman just wrote a FANTASY novel. Not a anti God rant. Goodness.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2013

    Best book in  the series The one I enjoyed the most. It was rea

    Best book in  the series

    The one I enjoyed the most. It was really suspenseful and mysterious, and the writing was beautiful. Recommended for all teens!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    Amazing. Just amazing.

    Well thought ou and extremly intricate. The type of book you need to read the entire series twice to even begin to understand.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2012

    Am I right?

    I interpreted the end of the book this way.... Lyra and Will never closed the portal connecting their worlds, and so damned all the dead. She tempted Will to remain with her, but to do so would doom everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2012


    Still feels like the Golden Compass shouldn't have been continued

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Wow... just plain wow...

    There are a lot of people who seem to like this book less than the first two. And it certainly is of a different style than the first two. The writing is much more mature and assured. And the plot is more mature. But in the end none of that matters because this is a wonderful way to end the trilogy. And as it comes to and end, bittersweet as it is, it is a good one. Please please please read this trilogy. Its worth the time, effort and attention.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2012

    Very exciting

    I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a good book for pre-teens.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Good book

    Good book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2012

    Very good.

    I especially liked the part where Lyra was helping to repair the knife.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2012

    Recommended as a good book.

    I have read all three of Philip Pullman's books from His Dark Materials Series and enjoyed them all. This book was good with a surprize ending.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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