Title: The Amber Spyglass
Author: Philip Pullman
Page Count/Review Word Count: 550
The Amber Spyglass is the third book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and whilst I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as the other two, I still thought it was amazing. It’s also the only book that’s ever made me cry – the ending left me distraught, but it was beautiful. Of course, you should read each of the books in the series for maximum enjoyment, as you can only really fully appreciate the end of the series if you’ve been there since the start.
I don’t want to talk directly about the plot here, because it follows on from the other two books and so if you haven’t read those yet, there’ll be spoilers. What I can say, though, is that in this book, all of the little story lines are wrapped up, and you’re in from a gripping tale from start to finish, which crosses the boundaries of multiple worlds. Along the way, you’ll meet some new characters and some old ones, and you’ll see some of those same characters get ruthlessly murdered by Pullman like he’s impersonating George R. R. Martin. But it works.
We also learn a lot more about the nature of Dust, thanks to Mary Malone, an underrated character who turns out to be surprisingly important. Couple that with a huge, all-out war between Lord Asriel and the Authority, as well as a quick visit to the world of the dead, and you can see how you might be in for a treat. And this despite it being the weaker of the three books in the trilogy, in my opinion – Northern Lights was easily my favourite, in case you’re wondering.
This book, and the other books in the series, are examples of those rare books that blow your mind – I almost find it hard to believe that a mere mortal could’ve created a book something as powerful as this. For me, Pullman’s world-building is more vivid and evocative than that of almost any other writer, with the possible exception of Sir Terry Pratchett – Tolkien and C. S. Lewis don’t even stand a chance. But then, without them, the His Dark Materials trilogy might not have existed – there are certainly parallels, such as the ability to pass from one world to another, but Pullman makes them his own.
The characterisation is also exceptional, and it’s interesting to watch the subtle changes in Lyra and Will as they grow from children to young adults, and how those changes influence their decisions and, ultimately, the story line. Their daemons change as well, which is interesting – in fact, I’ve always been fascinated by the way that Pullman managed to make humans and their daemons both similar and different. It helps to make them believable, and it also adds an extra level to the story because a human and their daemon might not always agree on things.
Overall, this book comes highly recommended from me, but so do the other two books in the series. Make sure that you read all three, and that you read them in order – these are books that will stand up to the test of time. Let me know your thoughts!