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Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman(1946- )
Philip Pullman is from Norwich England. He was a teacher until he began writing full time in 1996. He has written numerous stand-alone novels and a couple of historical fiction mysteries for children. He won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the most prestigious prize in children’t literature, in 2005. Learn more at Philip Pullman‘s website.


The Firework-Maker’s Daughter: Another wonderful tale for children

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter by Philip Pullman

The Firework-Maker’s Daughter is a short children’s book written by Phillip Pullman and it’s a little gem. Pullman pulls off a perfect recipe of magic, adventure and pure fun in this sparkling little fairy tale.

Lila is the daughter of the talented firework maker Lachland. All Lila wants is to become a true firework maker herself, but to do so she must make the perilous journey to the fire-fiend Razvani and bring back some Royal Sulphur. What’s worse, she sets off before her father can tell her the one thing she’ll need to survive Razvani’s flames. Luckily Lila has good friends in the form of Hamlet, the talking white elephant, and his special minder Chaluk, who follow Lila in hot pursuit, bumping into goddesses, tigers and pirates on the way.
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The Golden Compass: Extraordinary, controversial, fascinating, infuriating

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (or, if you follow the British print-run, Northern Lights) is the first book of Philip Pullman's extraordinary, controversial, thought-provoking, fascinating, infuriating, allegorical trilogy His Dark Materials. Followed by The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, the books have a huge range of ideas and meanings; from exploring the bond between the body and soul, to denouncing modern religious practices, to retelling Milton's Paradise Lost from a completely different point of view. Throughout, the story is compelling and beautifully told, the source of endless debates and discussions, and a narrative with such an extreme and unique message that (even if you don't agree with it) you... Read More

The Subtle Knife: An amazing piece of literature

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife is the second in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, beginning with The Golden Compass and ending with The Amber Spyglass. It is an amazing piece of literature; often more suited for adult readers than for the children/young adults that it's geared toward, and with a message that — though controversial — is immensely thought provoking and worth pondering. Strangely enough, this second book is actually my favourite installment in the series; odd since middle books are often those that flounder.

At the end of The Golden Compass, Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon walked into the Northern Lights, across the bridge Lord Asriel had made and into another world. Readers might be disconcerted th... Read More

The Amber Spyglass: Pullman becomes intolerant

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

At the end of The Subtle Knife, things were dire. Lyra had been kidnapped by her mother Mrs Coulter, whilst Will was left in the company of two angels with the subtle knife (which can create windows between worlds) and the altheiometer (that communicates with the mystery substance known as 'Dust'). Refusing to accompany them to Lord Asriel, who is on the verge of war with Heaven itself, Will enlists the angels help in tracking down Lyra, and is soon joined by Iorek Byrnison, the king of the polar bears. Meanwhile, Lyra herself is forced into an enchanted sleep by her mother, whilst the powers of the Church and the Authority close in to end her life and thus the terrible threat she poses against them. When the two children are reunited, they hatch a plan to go right to the end of where the subtle knife can take them; right into death itself.

Mary Malone, who has been to... Read More

Lyra’s Oxford: Another glimpse into Pullman’s Oxford

Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman

Everything Means Something...

First of all, if you have not read Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, then don't attempt to read this story, as you'll be utterly baffled. But if you have, you'll be treated with another glimpse into the parallel Oxford that Pullman so vividly created and explored in Northern Lights/The Golden Compass.

The book itself is beautifully presented, bound in cloth and filled with engravings of the city by John Lawrence, a style of art that perfectly matches Pullman's atmosphere of a gritty, turn-of-the-century English city. Included in the book is a quote from an Oxford guide, an introduction, the short story itself entitled "Lyra and the Birds", a map of Oxford, and then a collection of bits and pieces that may or may not mean anything... Read More

Once Upon a Time in the North: Lee Scoresby meets Iorek Byrnison

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman

Lee Scoresby, a young Texan aeronaut, and his dæmon, Hester the rabbit, land their balloon in Novy Odense, a frontier harbor in the North. Lee is all but broke, so he goes into town looking for business. There’s no work for an aeronaut, but there is a lot of trouble waiting for an honorable man. Naturally, Lee and Hester wind up in the middle of it.

It turns out that the Larsen Manganese, a mining company, has allied with Ivan Demitrovich Poliakov, a mayoral candidate, as part of their scheme to control of the North. The company’s guards are throwing their weight around Novy Odense, which disrupts honest trade, while Poliakov incites hate against the bears, including one Iorek Byrnison, which distracts from the Northern takeover. Lee winds up siding with the bears and businessmen, even if it means risking a gunfight against Poliakov and the mining company’s agents.
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Serpentine: A tiny tale of great significance

Serpentine by Philip Pullman

Serpentine (2020) is a tiny tale set in between the two trilogies that have defined Philip Pullman's writing career. Whilst at a mere seventy pages it may seem, by Pullman's standards, brief, it plays a vital function in understanding the adventures the future Lyra will embark upon in the THE BOOK OF DUST.

A note from the author explains that the story was originally written 2004, before Pullman had any idea that he would return to Lyra and her world.

Yet the story marks a pivotal point in Lyra's understanding of herself and her relationship with her daemon, Pantalaimon; this very understanding will, in fact, dictate the entire course of the subsequent t... Read More

Clockwork: Bad things happen when you don’t finish a story

Clockwork: or All Wound Up by Philip Pullman

Clockwork: or All Wound Up (1996) is a very short (about 100 pages) children’s fairytale by Philip Pullman. It stars Karl and Fritz, two young Germans who have not finished a job that they were supposed to do and are worried about what will happen when the townspeople find out. Karl and Fritz meet one snowy evening in the local tavern. Karl, the clockmaker’s apprentice, is brooding because tomorrow is the day when he must unveil the mechanical project he’s supposed to have finished. For hundreds of years, each apprentice has contributed an exquisite clockwork figure to the town’s clock and everyone gathers on graduation day to admire it in the town square. Karl confesses to Fritz that he has not created anything.

Fritz, a writer, tells Karl that authors also have ... Read More

The Scarecrow and his Servant: Pretty hefty stuff

The Scarecrow and his Servant by Philip Pullman

We Might Sometimes Go Hungry, But We Will Never Want for Adventure...

Philip Pullman is best known for his young-adult fantasy series His Dark Materials as well as the Victorian thrillers starring Sally Lockhart, but he also has quite a few children's books under his belt, all of which are whimsical and comedic in nature. The Scarecrow and His Servant is one such story, highly reminiscent of Lloyd Alexander's work and definitely a change of pace from Pullman's darker, more sophisticated fare.

A farmer builds a scarecrow with a turnip for a head and a broomstick for a backbone, and plants it in a field with these words of advice: ... Read More

La Belle Sauvage: Our different opinions

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

I always find it a little nerve-wracking when an author returns to a successful series after a long time away. There's always the fear, for me at least, that one of two things is going to happen: either the author will be nostalgic about the original work to the extent that s/he makes the new book into a fawning tribute without substance, or the author will have changed enough in the time between installments that the magic is just gone. I'm happy to say, though, that Philip Pullman's new novel dispels both of those fears. La Belle Sauvage (2017) is, though not quite as much a game-changer as The Golden Compass, still a fantastic novel in its own right and a great opener to THE BOOK OF DUST Read More

The Secret Commonwealth: It’s complicated

Reposting to include Marion's new review.

The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman (Ray  Jana)

With the release of La Belle Sauvage, readers were finally able to return to the universe of Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy after a seventeen year wait. The story was a prequel to the original trilogy (though Pullman described the new series not as a sequel, but an 'equel.') Being only a baby, it was not Lyra who took centre stage in that novel, but a young boy called Malcolm Polstead, who used his boat La Belle Sauvage to rescue Lyra from a terrible flood and an even more terrible man in pursuit.

Now in the latest addition to the series, The Secret Commonwealth (2... Read More

SHORTS: El-Mohtar, Miller, Cooney, Pullman, Bear, Valente

Here are some of the stories we read this week that we wanted you to know about. This week we continue focusing on 2015 Nebula-nominated short fiction, along with some other stories that caught our attention.

“Madeleine” by Amal El-Mohtar (2015, free on Lightspeed magazineKindle magazine issue), nominated for the 2015 Nebula award (short story)

Madeleine is in therapy after the death of her mother from Alzheimer’s. She and her therapist, Clarice, are discussing the loss of her ... Read More