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The Subtle Knife Review

Posted : 14 years, 9 months ago on 6 June 2008 08:11

A far faster and lighter read then the first one in the trilogy (Northern Lights), I didn't realise why until I'd finished and compared it to the first one. It was far less detailed then the first but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Rather then spending all that time reading into and absorbing the details you could really get into the story. Although it was a bit more predictable.
I enjoyed the introduction of Will but I didn't like how Lyra was portrayed. Something about her character seemed a bit off putting which left me not liking her as much. A thing I don't think is very good when it's one of the main characters. The dialogue that involved her was better though and so was some of the punctuation.

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More gripping.

Posted : 16 years, 9 months ago on 16 June 2006 10:40

This is the second book of His Dark Materials (after Northern Lights, or The Golden Compass in the US, and before The Amber Spyglass).

Will Parry is a twelve-year-old boy living in Oxford with his mother, who's suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, and his cat Moxie. His father, an arctic explorer, has gone missing almost since the boy was born.

Will's mother has been facing more and more crises of late, and strangers have been harrassing her repeatedly, asking questions about her husband, about the letters he sent her twelve years ago. Will decides to send her to his old piano teacher's house to keep her safe, but when these men come back and search their home, Will accidently kills one of them. Not wanting to call the police because they would put his mother into hospital, he takes his father's letters from their hiding place in the sewing machine, and flees.

But walking on the side of the road, he sees a cat much like Moxie suddenly disappear. Examining the patch of grass more closely, he discovers a window, resolves to cross it, and finds himself in Cittàgazze, a sun-drenched, palm-treed city on the sea shore, in another world.

The city looks as if everyone just left in a hurry though, and when Will is looking for food in the recently abandoned cafés, he stumbles onto a lost young girl, Lyra. Although shocked to see a human without a daemon, and after asking her alethiometer for advice, she knows she can trust Will, and they finally decide to help each other.

The rest of the book describes how they travel back and forth between worlds, Will searching for his father, Lyra gathering information about Dust, both making new allies as well as meeting new enemies, facing new, more deadly dangers.

I liked The Subtle Knife more than Northern Lights (US title: The Golden Compass), was more gripped by it as a whole. I particularly enjoyed the connections between Lyra's and Will's (our) Oxford, when Lyra discovers what is similar, and what is not, to the place where she grew up. There's still a rather mystic edge to the story which I don't quite get, but I guess everything will clear up in the last chapter.

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