Volume 1. The Book Of Dust. La Belle Sauvage
By Phillip Pullman
Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them; a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . . Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the flood.
Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials is my all time favourite book series. The first time I read it I was at university and I devoured every single book, page and word that was written. I adored this world of dæmon, magic, alethoimeters, action, adventure and mystery. As soon as I saw that Pullman had written a prequel series I got very very excited. I bought La Belle Sauvage in hardback as soon as it was out, I absolutely loved the cover design as well. For some reason it has taken me MONTHS to actually get round to reading it, I feel ashamed that I was so damn excited and then neglected this book. But I have finally finished it!
It took me a while to get into this novel, I think I was slightly sceptical about a prequel and the fact Lyra was only a baby when she is the main character throughout the previous series made me feel uneasy. However I grew to love Malcom and Alice, both brave, adventurous, courageous and strong they made fantastic main characters. Pullman is clever and I felt captured the essence of the original series with this novel, though its a slow burner; things started to get more exciting around halfway through, but I just kept thinking he has to set up the characters, the situation and plot line there are another two books coming out after this one. That said it wasn’t boring, it just took a while for the action to start and once it does it doesn’t stop. Malcom and Alice face the chaos of the flood, have to protect baby Lyra from a plethora of enemies, meet witches, giants, run out of supplies, they can’t trust anyone but themselves, for two young children they really do kickass and I commend them for looking after a baby on a boat, I couldn’t do it!
The novel is pretty dark in places, I feel its more Young Adult than a children’s book, there is quite a lot of violence, bloodshed and also a bit of swearing. Not that it bothered me but I would probably think twice before reading to a child. Which is a funny thought as I remember seeing The Golden Compass in Waterstones when I was about 10 years old and a lady advised me that I was probably a bit too young for this series and I should try Harry Potter (which obviously I loved) and I couldn’t agree more. I’m so glad I read His Dark Materials when I was in my late teenage/early 20s. I don’t think as a 10 year old child I would of been able to appreciate the complexity of Pullmans work.
Overall I really enjoyed Volume 1 of The Book of Dust, I’m excited to see how their adventure continues and how much Lyra will grow up. I don’t think it’s as good as his previous series but I’m glad I enjoyed this novel and it bought back a lot of nostalgia for me, it’s really made me want to re-read His Dark Materials.
Have you read La Belle Sauvage or His Dark Materials? What did you think? Are you excited for the next edition in Pullman’s series? Let me know I would love to chat. Katie x
This is another book that I have read from the British Book Awards Reading Challenge I have set myself. Click here to read all about it. I only have one book left to read from my challenge list which is, Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor.