His Dark Materials Boxed Set

( 418 )


Published in 40 countries, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – has graced the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

The Golden Compass
forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a world like ours, but different in many ways. The ...

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Published in 40 countries, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass – has graced the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

The Golden Compass
forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a world like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set partly in the world we know. The third moves between many worlds.

In The Golden Compass, readers meet 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua, a precocious orphan growing up within the precincts of Jordan College in Oxford, England. It quickly becomes clear that Lyra's Oxford is not precisely like our own—nor is her world. In Lyra's world, everyone has a personal dæmon, a lifelong animal familiar. This is a world in which science, theology and magic are closely intertwined.

The Subtle Knife is the second part of the trilogy that began with The Golden Compass. That first book was set in a world like ours, but different. This book begins in our own world.

In The Subtle Knife, readers are introduced to Will Parry, a young boy living in modern-day Oxford, England. Will is only twelve years old, but he bears the responsibilities of an adult. Following the disappearance of his explorer-father, John Parry, during an expedition in the North, Will became parent, provider and protector to his frail, confused mother. And it's in protecting her that he becomes a murderer, too: he accidentally kills a man who breaks into their home to steal valuable letters written by John Parry. After placing his mother in the care of a kind friend, Will takes those letters and sets off to discover the truth about his father.

The Amber Spyglass
brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heartstopping close, marking the third and final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy. Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and Iorek Byrnison the armored bear, 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 spy-master to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. And this final volume brings 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 with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that—in its shocking outcome—will reveal the secret of Dust.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375842382
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/28/2007
  • Series: His Dark Materials Series
  • Pages: 1312
  • Sales rank: 570,557
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 4.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip  Pullman
Philip Pullman won the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in honor of the body of his work. He lives in Oxford, England.

Good To Know

Interesting facts about Philip Pullman and his books:
  • The Amber Spyglass was the first children's book to be named the Whitbread Book of the Year.

  • Among the other awards Pullman has received are Britain's prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (a sort of Nobel Prize for children's literature) honoring his entire body of work.

  • Pullman enjoys playing the piano. "I'd like to play it well," he quips on his website. "But I can't, so the rest of the family has to put up with my playing it badly."

  • Pullman persuaded his publisher to let him illustrate the first two books of His Dark Materials with small, symbolic pen and ink drawings at the start of each chapter. Although these illustrations were left out of first editions in the U.S., they have been included in later editions. The third book of the trilogy, The Amber Spyglass does not have illustrations, but chapters begin with quotations from some of Pullman's favorite writers, like John Milton, William Blake, and Emily Dickinson.

  • Read More Show Less
      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


    I began to write this novel with little sense of the plot, even less notion of the theme, and only the vaguest idea of the characters. I'm convinced that that's the way to do it. I tried to work out the plan of a novel once, when I was young, ahead of writing it. It was an excellent plan. It took me months and covered page after page, and in the end I was so fed up with the damn thing I threw it away and started a quite different novel with no preparation at all, which came out much better. I suppose these things are partly temperamental; I know that some excellent writers make a great thing of planning every book before they write it; but it doesn't work for me.

    One thing such a technique prevents is what I think every long book must have if I'm not to go mad writing it, and that's the element of surprise. I had no idea what Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear, would say when Lyra first came face to face with him. His vulnerability to strong drink was a huge surprise. I knew there was going to be a boy called Will, but his reason for running away and thus meeting Lyra was a complete mystery to me until it happened. As for Lee Scoresby, I was as ignorant of his existence as the gyptians themselves the sentence before he turned up. These surprises are pleasant and exciting; they feel like a kind of reward. If I knew they were coming I wouldn't enjoy them at all.

    In the first sentence above, I mentioned something I called the theme. By that I mean what the book is about, in some fundamental sense. I've heard that some writers decide on a theme first, and then make up some characters and a plot to exemplify it. They seem to get on all right, but again, it wouldn't work for me. A book, especially a long book like His Dark Materials, has to have some sort of theme, or else you'll be working for a long time (this story took me seven years) in a moral vacuum. But that doesn't mean you have to decide what the theme is. If you're working as seriously as you know how to, for a matter of years, then a theme will emerge whether you want it to or not. It'll be something you think very important. It might be the most important thing you know. Once you know what it is, you can shape the story more precisely to help it show up, but it's a mistake to rely on the theme to lead the story for you. I think I did that in a couple of places in this book, and it's the worse for it. But there we are, we're never too old to learn. Next time I shall remember: the story should lead, and the theme will emerge in its own time and its own way. Besides, if you want to write something perfect, write a haiku. Anything longer is bound to have a few passages that don't work as well as they might.

    So here is a story that was the best I could do at the time, written with all the power and all the love I had, about the things I think most important in the world. I think it was worth writing. I hope you think it's worth reading.

    Philip Pullman

    From the Hardcover edition.

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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 418 )
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 418 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted January 2, 2008

      I laugh at you all

      I'm 14 and read the whole series in, I think, 5th or 6th grade. I went to a Catholic school for 6 years going to a school wide mass every Wednsday. I think I could be called a Catholic, don't you? While reading them I didn't hear anything negative about the books or even the author from anyone including my teachers. Now however, I was looking at the books in a used book store and someone came up to me and said that anyone who read the books is going to hell. I really do laugh at anybody with that mentality because, if you read it as a work of fiction, all of a sudden it is an amazing story. I also went to the movie. Because the director was trying to be 'politically correct' the movie suffered horribly (don't get me wrong, it was good). Anyone who says that this series is brainwashing children obviously does not have enough confidence in thier self to resist temptation and what is life but the temptation to do wrong? All in all, wonderfull series, but I wish people could learn how to read and decide for themselves.

      10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 29, 2007

      'christians' beware, ha!

      Fist of all let me say that these books were incredible. I am a PhD level scientist and I thought that it was incredible that the author actually introduced some high level scientific ideas into this book. My real concern here lies in how so many so-called 'christians' are preaching intolerance and are approaching the level of advocating censorship. Atheism is a religion (if you don't understand then maybe you should read something other than your bible some time), saying that it isn't, is like saying that 0 is not a number. Now, that being said, this book is a fantasy tale that happens to have a spiritual side that supports and proclaims the religious beliefs of the author. The issue here is that atheism is not as accepted in our society as Christianity, or Islam, or the various other religions out there. Would everyone really be in such an uproar if this book were about another religion. Considering I was forced to read the lion, the which and the wardrobe in school and it didn't turn me in to some deluded Christ follower, I have no sympathy for your concerns. 'christians', try some of these things: 1) try to be a little open minded and experience things that don't quite fit in your perfect little delusion. 2) try leading people to your religion by example and preaching love and compassion instead of trying to force people to your god by banning books, ignoring proven science, and attmepting to make sins illegal through political means. 3) have a little faith in your children. they know the difference in a fairy tale and a religious text and if they don't maybe you should try talking to them a little more instead of just regulating their input.

      6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 20, 2008

      I couldn't wait to get back to this book!

      I thought this was a children's story. My husband gave the trilogy book to me for Christmas in 2007. I pushed it around until the summer when I began reading The Golden Compass. It grabbed me the way the first Harry Potter book did. Grabbed me and pulled me right into the fantasy world of Lyra and Roger. I found myself feeling torn when I had to put the book down wondering where the twists and turns would go next. I didn't just read these three books, I absorbed them.<BR/><BR/>The writing is so compelling and full of intrigue. But the message..ahh the message it has for us in today's world. In a world of "Change" and "Yes we can", this book is a must read. Mr. Pullman has written a book for the ages.<BR/><BR/>Put a copy today...forget the movie, it doesn't come close to the book and ENJOY!!!

      4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 19, 2008

      Add this to a list of books you read before you die!

      This is an amazing book. I have read all three in the series and I have seen the movie. It's absolutey wonderful. The story is great and it's one of those books that you can easily get lost in. You really can imagine everything clearly in your mind and the way the story is told, it feels like your there with the characters watching everything. You must read this book sometime in your life or you will miss out on a lot!

      4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 7, 2008

      A reviewer

      This is a good, well-written series with characters you'll be rooting for. The scenes came vividly to life it was full of beautiful imagery. Yeah, the author's an Atheist and the books reflect that. So what? People of religious backgrounds--from Christian to Wiccan--write books reflecting their faith for kids. Instead of getting offended at Pullman why not be offended at something that truly is offensive? Like the gas/food prices? :-)By the way, the first one, the Golden Compass, probably has the least anti-church rhetoric in it at least, I didn't detect anything there that I thought was offensive. It gets steadily more anti-religion as the books progress.

      4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 13, 2007

      A 'Subtle Knife' for a subtle sneak

      These books are poisonous and merely promotion of anti-Christian sentiment. He is subversively attempting to imprint young children with the notion of an evil 'Church' 'Pullman's Magisterium' such that they may naturally corroborate these ideas with the Christian religion. His hope is these sinister portraits will bias young people against a religion that is peaceful in its true form. For those of you arguing that the books' representative nature mirror the Chronicles of Narnia, realize that Lewis was attempting to represent his chosen faith in an extolling light, and that hopefully the readers would see the goodness in Christianity. Pullman has stated that he possesses a hatred of the peaceful, benign, and moral masterpieces of C.S. Lewis for their nature (as per his Time Magazine interview), and has, in the past, stated that his filth he calls literature is a statement of how to kill God disguised in a child's story. I do not believe that you can be more malignant and underhanded than trying to imbue children with inimical notions toward any religion. Deplorable. Avoid them as much as you can and prevent friends and family from paying any patronage to the movie or the books.

      4 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 15, 2007

      Thank you for the boycott request it brought me to this great series.

      Whether or not you agree with his politics, Pulman drafted a highly imaginative series for children and adults alike. In addition, for those who encourage a boycott, are you so fearful of allowing your children to read these books because you think they will stray from their faith? If so, well, that is a sad statement of how strongly you believe in your children's faith, and shows how little you value free thinking and education.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 31, 2005


      I just want to discuss what makes a great fantasy novel. There are plenty of fantasy books, and most of them are really good. But it is harder to come by one that is special, one that is great. It is hard to come by a 'tale that really mattered'.............. In my opinion, HARRY POTTER, THE MISTS OF AVALON, HIS DARK MATERIALS, & THE LORD OF THE RINGS are the greatest fantasy novels ever written. Why do I think this? I think this because these stories emanate a feeling of POWER so great that I KNOW they really happened, somewhere, sometime. It is a VERY difficult feeling to describe. I get it too when I am watching STAR WARS EPISODE III (the new one), or the LOTR movies. In movies, I know music helps create this feeling, this POWERFUL emotion but in books, it is only the words on the page and the imagination of the reader.................Do you ever get this feeling? The feeling which makes you want to cry, yell and kill something all at once? The great welling of sadness and happiness that fills your heart when you read something especially POWERFUL? Do you get this feeling when you're reading about Lyra and Pan being ripped from each other on the docks of the Land of the Dead, or when Lyra and Will must make the terrible decision about which door to leave open? Or do you get it when Snape utters the fatal words, or when Harry shares his destiny of finding and destroying the horcruxes with Ron and Hermione in the last pages of 'The White Tomb'? Do you get this feeling when King Arthur kills Mordred (his own son!) or when Morgaine enters the Isle of the Priests, and you know in your heart that Avalon will be lost to the mists forever? Do you get this wonderful/horrible emotion when Aragorn and Theoden charge out into the morning at Helms Deep shouting, 'Forth Eorlingas!', or when Frodo says, 'I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.'................. I hope all of you, fellow fantasy lovers, have felt this POWERFUL feeling once while you were reading. The emotion that thrusts deep into your heart and soul and tells you that these places, these people, are or were once REAL. You can see them...you are almost there with them. Even if you are the lowliest peasant of Gondor, or the simplest child lost in the Land of the Dead, you know that the POWER of these stories has led you there, and that you ARE there, even as you turn the page in your book.................And when you have finished your book, you wish with all your heart that you could return to that place, whether it be Hogwarts, Camelot, or Middle-Earth, because in those places there is real HONOR & GLORY & POWER. That is where good battles evil, and the story has made you yearn to be a part of that battle. I hope that all of you have experienced this feeling, which wrenches your heartstrings and broadens your imagination. I hope that you who KNOW IN YOUR HEART that you are an angel or daemon of Lyra's world, or a great crusader, or a priestess of Avalon, or an Auror or a Death Eater, or a Warrior of the West-of Gondor or Rohan, or a simple hobbit from the Shire...I hope that you have felt this emotion, because it proves that you have read GREAT, POWERFUL, MEANINGFUL books, and that surely, you belong in a fantasy world........... The greatest praise I can give to JRR Tolkien, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Philip Pullman & JK Rowling is that while reading their books, I felt this POWER, this great & terrible emotion................. I hope all of you have felt this POWER, and have cried or screamed with REAL emotion...and if you haven't felt this, than I advise you to read these books, and maybe you will be blessed with this incredible feeling. And if you don't read (which is a crime), then you should at least watch LOTR, and maybe when Aragorn shouts 'I bid you fight! Men of the West!' you will feel it too..............And now I have shared my views on what makes a 'tale that really mattered'. I thank you all for reading this.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 12, 2007

      Good, but for an older crowd

      I thought that these books were great. I really enjoyed the story, but I was a little disappointed that I had to go to the children's section to get it. I am a Christian and I was able to separate my beliefs from this fiction story. However, I don't think that these are books that I would want children reading. My hope is that parents wait until their children are older and able to clearly separate reality from fantasy. Let's be honest these books are very disparaging toward God and the church, but we are mature enough to appreciate a good story for what it is.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 8, 2010


      YES! YES! YES, YES, YES!!! Read these books. Best fantasy ever written.
      Oh, and I am Christian. And I found that this trilogy /enriched/ my faith. It is healthy, especially for young minds, to question one's faith. And for those who might lose faith through reading these books, they will actually be closer to God in my opinion, for they will not be living a lie. (Meaning that their faith is the lie, not religion itself.)
      Recommended for everyone age 10 and up, just because it might be a bit difficult for young children to understand, and because of some disturbing details.
      Read it, read it, read it!! And then re-read it! (It gets better every time.)

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 27, 2009

      This was a book club selection and I wasn't particularly enthused about it initially so I borrowed the books from the library. After the first 20 or so pages, I thought "I've got to have this to keep." I promptly went to the book store a

      My expectation was that this was a religious tome about faith, etc. It is, however, not at all in the vain I was expecting----rather he presents very thought-provoking ideas that still have me pondering. There has been mention in other review that Pullman must be an aethist----I don't find that conclusion at all. He certainly doesn't hesitate to point out some of the worst things people of all religions have visited on others. How many wars and how much destruction of people and land have occurred "in the name of God?" The Crusades, for example. I found the author's presented viewpoints and plots to be highly thought-provoking in today's world. At the same time, I loved the other-worldly setting and characters fascinating. For me it was an amazingly thoughtful, provoking read and I'm grateful my fellow book club members selected this otherwise I'd probably never have read it.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted August 2, 2008

      Absolutely amazing! Favorite series!

      This is my favorite series of books, ever. They're completely outstanding. I was blown away by Pullman's huge imagination. This series had be smiling, laughing, crying, fuming... I just loved it. The ending was shocking, and superb. If you had to read one series of books before you kick the bucket you MUST read these!

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 30, 2007

      Promotes the idea that god is evil and you should fight against him.

      My daughter read this series so I decided to read it also- so we could talk about it. I was shocked. The first book is vague but in the 2nd book the plot emerges- the original war in heaven ended in defeat for satan and his forces- and this is bad. So now humans are mounting a new war against Authority, which he says is God or the Church, because Authority is evil and prevents us from having joy. In the third book the evil forces defeat Authority/God and this is good. Can you believe this is a children's book? Can you beleive any company would sell this trash to CHILDREN?

      2 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted December 31, 2009

      more from this reviewer


      It was a beautiful and engrossing look at human nature, whether technically human or not, and the power of rightness. Not the rightness someone else has dictated but the kind of rightness that is known instinctively and felt throughout your entire being. That every being in every universe and dimension has the right to be free from oppression and has the right to fight with every fiber of their being to ensure that freedom.

      It also strips away the facade of organized religion and exposes the atrocities associted with it and the absolute horror of zealotry. Although the story takes place in a world parallel to this one, the words resonate deeply with what has occured throughout time wherever religion is present: murder, torture, theft and subjugation. The replacement of free will with the dictates of religious doctrine. The gleeful torture and murder of individuals who do not agree with that doctrine, simply because that doctrine said it was the right thing to do, overriding the individual's own sense of right and wrong.

      Although it was published as three seperate books, its true form is one inseperable volume. Each of its parts flow so smoothly into each other that it is more like turning the page on a new chapter rather than a new book. That combined with the massive cliffhangers that leave you dangling from your fingertips make it impossible to not simply turn to that next page. Even the ending of the tale leaves you partially dangling, and hungering for more of a single, emotionally charged plot line left untied. Instead, it stretches into eternity and sets the wheels turning on the possibilities, and leaves you desperately hoping. If rumors play out, that last plot line will finally get tied in a fourth installment.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted September 1, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      Worthy of purchasing!

      This series was well written and it's characters were well developed. It kept my interest and I was eager to move from one novel to the next. Do not let the minor controversy behind the plot prevent you from giving these a read...

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 25, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      Different, entertaining

      Great books, too bad the movies are not quite as good.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted March 16, 2009

      Hang on for a Marathon

      This is a fast paced trilogy that demands attention to details and can leave you a bit out of breath as you try to keep up with the action. Like Harry Potter & Co. there is never a dull moment.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted March 2, 2009

      Love the polar Bear

      I was fascinated with this series and have been enjoying the read. When the movie came out Pastors asked parents not to allow children to go so I needed to read all the books to see what was up. My son had read the 1st in 5th grade and loved it so I decided to see what the whole story line was about. It is thought provoking and a good series for you to sit down and discuss what is in the books with your children. 2nd and 3rd may be too dark for some young readers but ok for 7th grade and above with a mature child. I do not look at the negative but how you can get your youth to talk about what they got from the story and how it may differ from what they believe.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 15, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      I wish Pulman had stopped with the Golden Compass - or at least halfway through the Subtle Knife.

      So like many others, I saw the Golden Compass movie - I thought it was visually beautiful, and found the story to be intriging. Because a friend of mine recommended that the book was BETTER! I picked it up. And had to agree whole heartedly that the movie did not do the book justice.<BR/><BR/>The Golden Compass is a fabulous book.<BR/><BR/>When I started reading the Subtle Knife - I thought to myself WOW! This book is even better than the first. THEN half way through: the didactic preachy nature of Pullman came out.<BR/><BR/>Pullman pushed his religion on me grotesquely TOO FAR - and his religion is quite obviously antitheism. <BR/><BR/>He took a book that was fast becoming my favorite book of all time (the Subtle knife) and butchered it with his pedigogical antitheistic dogmatism.<BR/><BR/>And then, because I am the kind of person who has to watch a horror movie to the end, just because I want to see how it all turned out, I read The Amber Spyglass.<BR/><BR/>And the Amber Spyglass, I would have to say is the absolutely worst book I have ever read. The reason - Pullman TRIED TOO HARD. He strived so desperately to kill any God that might exist in his intransigent insistance that no one should believe in Christianity that his attempt to "recreate" the temptation of Eve failed miserably. <BR/><BR/>The entire uniting premise throughought the trilogy is that Lyra is supposed to be the new "Eve" and give into the "temptation" that would bring about some kind of huge change. At the end of the series, I was left wondering what was the temptation??? Where was the huge change??? What exactly was Lyra chosen to do???<BR/><BR/>I was grotesquely disappointed. If Pullman had successfully pulled off his narrow antitheist doctrine so that it made some sort of rational sense, I might have at least given his attempt some kind of credibility. I'm an open, thinking person who questions everything - I even left the church because of it's own narrow adherence to traditions. <BR/><BR/>As it stands, Pullman's fumbling and obstinate endorsment of antitheism made this magnificant fantasy trilogy into a wretched anticlimactic tragedy.

      1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 11, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      Loved it!

      I was given the series by a cousin about six years ago. I read it last year and fell in love with it, I finished the series in two weeks! I got so into it that I cried at the end when Lyra and Will would never see each other again! I highly recommend this book!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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