One of my resolutions for this year was to read more. I used to read so much when I was younger, but I’ve struggled with time since being at university and this year I have decided I need to be more mindful and to start putting time aside to read a chapter or so each day. This has really helped me feel good, I’m sleeping better and feeling more together when I do put the time aside for this. The most recent book I’ve finished is The Book of Dust Volume 1: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman.
I read His Dark Materials Trilogy many years ago and was completely gripped by them. Philip Pullman’s writing is so engaging and captivating that it’s hard not to be immersed in the world he has created, and The Book of Dust was no different. The book is set in the same world as His Dark Materials, 10 years before they start when the lead of the original trilogy is just a baby. This means that we are largely centred around new characters and new areas of the world. The book predominantly revolves around two characters embarking on a quest. Along the way they hit many obstacles, natural, mythical and downright scary in some cases all of which keep you on the edge of your seat while you read (figuratively for me as I read while I lay in bed). I don’t really want to say too much more about the storyline as I don’t want to spoil it, but this is making my review so difficult!
The world created by Pullman has so many similarities to our own, however the mythical and enchanting additions that he has made are very intriguing and work well integrated with the way he presents the world we know. Further to this, I love the daemons, an animal extension of each person. The concept of this is so unlike anything else I’ve ever read, and I love the idea as much now I’m an adult as I did when I was a child.
A particular area which I had forgotten about since I last read a Philip Pullman book is just how dark he is willing to take the storyline, with descriptions of violence and uncomfortable scenes. This is the case with both His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust, so I do think this needs to be read by a parent before being passed on to children, so you can ensure that it is appropriate.
Overall, I found The Book of Dust to be captivating from page one and I found it hard to put down to go to sleep. I don’t think it’s necessary for you to have read His Dark Materials first as this is set beforehand however, I don’t think it hurts to have done as it gives a wider view of the world and some aspects discussed than The Book of Dust doesn’t. Further to this, I believe that the next in The Book of Dust trilogy is set in the future, 20 years after the first book ends and 10 years after His Dark Materials ends, meaning that the original trilogy will most likely need to have been read before that.
I’m now eagerly awaiting the release of Volume 2 and in the wait, I fully intend to re-read the original trilogy as well to refresh my memory of them, it’s been about 10 years since I last had my head in the world, so I am fully prepared for the next one… plus it makes the wait feel a lot shorter (hopefully).
I would really love to discuss this book properly with those of you who have also read it, so please send me a message, tweet or an email so we can talk about it properly!
Thanks for reading,