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The Subtle Knife    by Philip Pullman order for
Subtle Knife
by Philip Pullman
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 1999 (1998)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Subtle Knife is the second in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, following its hugely popular start in The Golden Compass. It introduces a new main character, 12 year old Will Parry who lives in our own Oxford as opposed to the parallel world version where Lyra Belacqua's adventures started. Will looks after his frail mother, who has been disturbed in mind since his explorer father disappeared in the far North. Our hero finds out that his father may still be alive and sets off in search of him.

Will stumbles upon a window to a new parallel world full of danger, where he meets Lyra and her daemon, Pantalaimon. They join forces to learn about Dust, which seems to be at the root of the evils that have occurred. This leads them to the ex-nun and scientist Dr. Mary Malone and eventually to a quest for the Subtle Knife, which has the power to open windows between worlds. Will wins the knife, finds and loses his father, encounters angels and finally loses Lyra.

Read The Golden Compass first and then dive in to this sequel, which holds its own as a magical addition to the trilogy. Will Parry is a suitable match and companion for Lyra. The Subtle Knife is a grand epic about a brave and resolute young hero who succeeds in a fantastic quest against high odds.

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