La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

After more than ten years, what a delight to be back in Lyra’s universe! I remember being mesmerised by His Dark Materials and left in tears by its ending. I was so desperate that my twelve year-old self vowed to rewrite the ending! I had borrowed the French version of the trilogy at the local library (could not read English at the time) and asked my mother to buy me the whole set so that I could work on it and craft a coherent but more happy ending 😅. Well it ended up taking me 10 years to get the courage to read it again and guess what? I also left me in tears this time. I guess I will never get over it.

But I am branching off. Let’s talk about La Belle Sauvage, shall we?

Well, to make it short, I loved it!

  • The plot

Set 10 years before His Dark Materials (HDM) events, this first instalment of The Book of Dust trilogy also has Lyra at the centre of its plot but not as an active protagonist. The main character here is Malcolm Polstead, a boy we briefly met (as an adult) in HDM companion books. And I must say that I instantly fell in love with this courageous, clever, curious and thoroughly lovable boy. We follow him and Alice, through their quest to save Lyra from the flood that hits England as well as from evil people affiliated with the totalitarian religious power in place. Malcolm also engages in some spying activities , and I really enjoyed his encounters with Hannah Relf ( we already met her in HDM, in The Amber Spyglass to be  precise!)

  • The ambiance

The atmosphere here was quite different from the other books. It was definitively sombre. In the first trilogy, evil people were met and serious matters were dealt with as well, but we mostly felt tension and emotion, not this darkness, this gloomy ambiance. That was not a problem for me though, just a surprise.

  • My views on the writing

As for the intrigue, I found it well paced and highly interesting. The writing was beautiful in its simplicity and clarity. The descriptions were carefully drawn and never wheezy. There were some intriguing oniric parts and a subtle touch of magic. And honestly, I don’t think my appreciation of it was influenced by my love for HDM. This is a beautiful, well crafted story on its own.
Overall a spellbinding  book, which I enjoyed reading very much, and which I’ll probably read again (and again, together with HDM). 

Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 Of course

Next on the blog : Four Tales, by the same author!

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