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review 2017-11-21 02:28
La Belle Sauvage Vol. 1 of The Book of Dust (Philip Pullman)
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

Synopsis: Malcolm is a schoolboy who accidentally intercepts a message intended for a spy. When that spy finds him he is drawn into a covert world of intrigue. Malcolm is also a devoted fan and protector of Lyra, a baby being raised by some nuns at a nearby convent.

Review: The Book of Dust is a new trilogy by Philip Pullman set in the His Dark Materials (HDM) universe. The first volume is La Belle Sauvage, though I find myself saying Book of Dust rather than that. Pullman maybe should have called the trilogy something else.

La Belle Sauvage is divided (well it feels like it at least) into two parts. In the first half of the book Malcolm becomes involved with a government agency that is fighting a shadow war against another agency that wants to establish
an authoritarian religious rule over it's people. Somehow Lyra, a small baby being raised in a convent, is important to these plans, and it becomes Malcolm's task to protect her.

The second half of the book is mostly concerned with Malcolm protecting Lyra and another character we are introduced to, Alice. What I really noticed about this part of the book is how the plot pinballed around. Malcolm and company bounce from one danger or challenge to the next, on a chapter by chapter basis, usually leaving one chapters dangers behind at the end of it. It feels odd because most of these dangers don't seem to really have a longterm impact on the plot.

The character building is good, with alot of focus on the building relationship between Malcolm and Alice. Malcolm is a likeable good natured kid, while Alice starts off a bit of a bitch. As the story goes on, this melts away and she grows closer to Malcolm which was a nice touch. We also gets seperate shots of Lord Asriel and the icy Miss Coulter (including a delicious little rebuttal for her).

Pullman is one of the few authors, (possibly the only one, I'm not sure) who is capable of tearing me up. That said I think I expected a little more from the book. While the character development was good, it seemed to lack emotion in a way I remembered from HDM. Still definitely worth a read; can't wait for the next two books to come out.

Next is is another Alastair Reynolds book, Slow Bullets. This one is fairly short, so I expect to have another review soon.

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review 2017-11-13 17:57
SQUEE!!
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

Trying not to be a fangirl, but wow. This was so good. Not going to lie, I missed Lyra and Will. We do get baby Lyra though, so at least she's in the story. Just not talking and being her Silvertongue self yet. Seeing younger versions of Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter though was interesting. Since I know what comes, it gave me a good deal of pleasure of seeing Mrs. Coulter wrong footed. We follow two young people, Malcolm and Alice who do what they can to keep baby Lyra safe.

 

Philip Pullman offers these tantalizing details: “I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College, and in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her twenty years later. As for the third and final part, my lips are sealed.

 

Look all I am saying is that I want Lyra and Will together. That's it. If I end up sobbing like a child again like I did when I finished "The Subtle Knife" Pullman and I are going to have some imaginary words.

 

We have two new young adult characters to follow. No they are not Lyra and Will. But I actually think I may have fallen more in love with them than the latter. We have Malcolm and Alice who end up being drawn to baby Lyra.


I think that both characters were very well developed. Though some pieces reminded me of "The Subtle Knife". We have another sexual awakening of sorts. You see a young boy and girl drawn together and willing to fight for each other after having an adventure. 


We also get to see familiar characters in this one. I already mentioned Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, but there are some others I don't want to spoil about. 

 

I do think that there were a lot of characters to keep track of, but I didn't mind. Pullman writes them all quite well and they move in/out to the story. I do wish though we hadn't jumped between Malcolm and his goings on and another adult character as much (no spoilers). That took something out of the book for me. I know that Pullman is trying to set up the people for investigating dust and those who did not want to, but as I said, I think most readers are going to read "His Dark Materials" prior to this one, so you don't have to go into it as much. 

 

Volume 1 was really good. Though it starts off slow, the flow gets better and better and you will have your heart in your throat for most of the story. I was so worried about Malcolm and Alice until the very end. And even then I am worried, cause i don't recall these characters in "His Dark Materials" or if they are referenced I am too dumb to not have caught it when I did a quick skim read of the three books a few days ago.


The plot of "The Book of Dust" is about a young boy, Malcolm, and innkeeper's son (I got a great hoot at connecting that with Jesus/inn/etc. who finds out that a baby is living with a group of nuns nearby. Malcolm becomes instantly enthralled with the baby (called Lyra) and her tragic story that most people are not supposed to know about (though everyone does). That would have to be the funniest part of this book to me. People keep mentioning secrets here and there, but it did feel like most of the characters knew about things that they should not have. I think that may have made for a more interesting book if things were slowly revealed. But I bet Pullman figured most of us have read "His Dark Materials" so it's not like it's going to be a shocking reveal to us.

 

The world building in "The Book of Dust" was really good. We get to see an earlier Brytain that has some similarities to our world, but does not. There is a terrible story about a man called St. Alexander that was appalling. And I swear reminded me of someone else historical, but was too busy/lazy to look it up. How this man and his actions trickles down to a secret group of children that reports on teachers, parents, etc. gives more power to the Consistorial Court of Discipline was appalling to see. I can see at times why Lord Asriel was hell-bent on breaking the hold the Church had on the world that "His Dark Materials" inhabitants. 

 

The ending was very good and links up nicely with the story we were told about how Lyra comes to be at Jordan College. Now can't wait for part two where we find Lyra supposedly 20 years later after the events of this story. I already read "Lyra's Oxford" to just get a nice taste of Lyra and Pan when she's 15. I wish it had been longer.

 

 Image result for his dark materials gif

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text 2017-11-12 16:12
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

So good.

 

It was great to red about two kids who do what they can to keep baby Lyra safe. We all read how Lord Asriel found her and brought her to Jordan College when she was a baby. Now we get to read how she got there. 

 

I'm curious about what Volume 2 could be though. 

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text 2017-11-11 23:31
Reading progress update: I've read 35%.
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

Happy to be back in this world. 

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review 2017-11-05 19:19
A Song of Ice and Fire (George R.R Martin)
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) - Philip Pullman

Synopsis: aSoIaF (ugh, what an awful acronym) starts out revolving around the stories of the Stark family, eventually branching out to encompass other storylines as well. I really can't go into the details of the plot to much, because the spoilers start early on, but Lord Eddard Stark is chosen to become the king's Hand (basically an advisor + guy who manages everything) of the kingdom of Westeros. From there the plot explodes into a plethora of monsters, magic, spies, Machiavellian scheming, wars, betrayals, conspiracies, and other juicy stuff.

 

Review: This is a tough one to review. Everyone has likely either read these books already (perhaps multiple times) or watched the tv show, or at least heard everything from their friends. So it is a little tough to write a review with anything that hasn't been said before. That said I'll give it a shot.

 

George R.R. Martin (G.R.R.M. for brevity's sake) is a unique writer in the way he does things. I started Game of Thrones (GoT) loving it, got all the way through A Clash of Kings (aCoK) and A Storm of Swords (aSoS) still loving it, loved it a little less by A Feast For Crows (aFfC), and finally ready to read something else by A Dance With Dragons (aDwD), because 2000 pages of Westeros has proved to be a bit much for me. Not that I'm not still on board with this series, I just need a break for awhile.

 

The books are seemingly written to defy cliques wherever it can spot them. What you expect to happen doesn't happen, and characters you like or dislike will die; often abruptly when they do. Each book is only set on a very, very vague kind of arc, although they don't really seem to have their own flavors. GoT for example, is all about political scheming, and aCoK and aSoS are about the wars that follow this scheming, while aFfC and aDwD deal with the aftermath and cleanup of said wars. The plotline wanders up to and through all these arcs. It is extremely difficult to pin down where, if anywhere, it is going. The idea behind the plotlines seems to be that the journey is way more interesting than whatever the destination is. The one constant theme is that Westeros is brutal, unforgiving and treacherous.

 

The characters are a huge bright spot in this series. There are a wide variety of them, and your going to love some of them (and cry if and when they die), and hate others (and cheer when they go). There's a magnanimous lord with a difficult job to do, a good natured king who just wants to drink and party, a villainous noble scheming from the shadows, a brash knight with an ugly secret, a dwarf who compensates for his physical inabilities with intelligence and charisma (I drink and I know things), and a mentally challenged stableboy who can only say his name (HODOR). This is really only scratching the surface as G.R.R.M. has really tried to stuff the cast with memorable characters.

 

The most important takeaway from this review, however, is that aSoIaF is brutal. G.R.R.M. doesn't believe in censorship; there are sex scenes and graphic violence. He doesn't write to make things more palatable for his readers, instead he tries to model attitudes that might be common in a more primitive or medieval society. I'm the sort of person who enjoys this sort of open honesty, regardless of how I feel about the things described, but I understand how other people may not be onboard with it.

 

Summary: I loved these books, but I can see if they don't go well with other people. Most likely however, these books are on a track to be considered classics on par with Tolkien's Middle-earth.

 

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