A few months ago, I reviewed The Golden Compass, the first book in Philip Pullman’s trilogy, “His Dark Materials.” I thought it was about time to review the second book, The Subtle Knife.
As I have said before, it’s most difficult to review the second book in a trilogy, because everything is building up toward the third book. Lyra follows her father, Lord Asriel, through a window to another world. There she meets Will, a boy from our world.
Will has taken care of his mentally ill mother since his father disappeared on an expedition years before. Recently men have been breaking into their house trying to find his father’s papers. Will kills one of them accidentally and flees into the other world through a window, where he meets Lyra.
Lyra is trying to find out about dust, but the alethiometer tells her to help Will find his father. What they find first is the subtle knife, which can cut through anything, even the fabric between worlds. Will becomes the knife’s keeper.
Although the concept of the knife cutting the fabric between worlds is interesting, I really loved the whole feel of the world and the characters in The Golden Compass. Some of the characters are still with us in the second book, but we are moving away from that world. However, I enjoyed The Subtle Knife. I just don’t think the rest of the trilogy stands up to The Golden Compass in imaginative power and characters you feel really invested in.