Gr 6 Up-This book starts where The Subtle Knife (Knopf, 1997) left off. Lyra has been hidden away by her mother, and Will is determined to find her. Meanwhile, Lord Asriel is preparing to fight the forces of the Church's Consistorial Court, as well as the God-like Authority's Lieutenant, Metatron, who hungers for ultimate power over all worlds. At the heart of this discord is Dust, the mysterious substance that is linked irrevocably to consciousness; it is streaming away at an increasing rate, causing havoc in its wake. It is Lyra and Will's destiny to determine the outcome of this situation. Knowledge of the previous books is an absolute necessity in order to understand this one. Even so, it will take dedication and passion to unwind the extremely convoluted plot with its numerous characters. Lyra and Will are as noble, grand, and yet as utterly believable as any characters in children's literature, and they are surrounded by a host of memorable personages. The many facets of the story are so encrusted with tiny and arcane details that the narrative occasionally slows down, and the transitions between worlds and plot lines are often hard to follow. Organized religion is portrayed bleakly; the Church is essentially a dictatorship and the afterlife is a "concentration camp" world set up by the Authority. However, the message of the book remains clear and exhilarating; it is vital to use wisely the divine gifts of consciousness and free will. This is a subtle and complex treatment of the eternal battle between good and evil.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"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.