I just started reading the third novel in Philip Pullman's wondrous trilogy His Dark Materials
. The volumes in it are The Golden Compass
, The Subtle Knife
, and The Amber Spyglass
. Someone recommended them to me last year, and I finally worked my way down my list to them.Set gush-o-meter to 9.6...
Wow. These books are amazingly good. Reviewers have been comparing them to everything from The Chronicles of Narnia
to The Lord of the Rings
is a good comparison I think, but even moreso is Susan Cooper's excellent The Dark is Rising
sequence. I find Pullman sort of a cross between Gene Wolfe, Neil Gaiman and Steven Brust. He's got a gift for vocabulary, a sensibility for mythology, and can craft a complex plot that has surprises and still makes sense. Most important of all, his world is one that is compelling and beautiful, even when it is horrific and sad.
These books are written for older children - I would have been ready for them when I was 10 or 11 I think. I was reading Tolkien in 6th grade, and Earthsea
and Lord Foul's Bane
and did just fine with them at that age. But the writing is rich enough that they are enjoyable for an adult too, without having to condescend to read at a child's level.
I'm looking forward to introducing my nephew to these books in a year or two when he's ready for them. I think I'll have to put together a reading list for him or start buying him books for presents.
If you enjoy fantasy or sci-fi and haven't discovered these books yet, put them on your summer reading list. They'll probably be the best thing you read this year.