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review 2018-02-20 07:48
Es hat nicht sein sollen
His Dark Materials: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife And The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman

„His Dark Materials“ von Philip Pullman ist einer der Kinderbuchklassiker unserer Zeit. Die Trilogie gewann zahlreiche bedeutende Preise, wurde für Film, Fernsehen und die Bühne adaptiert und erzielte in den USA ähnliche Verkaufszahlen wie „Harry Potter“. Die drei Bände „Northern Lights“, „The Subtle Knife“ und „The Amber Spyglass” wurden von 1995 bis 2000 veröffentlicht. Obwohl die Geschichte somit über 20 Jahre alt ist und zeitlich genau in meine Kindheit fällt, wuchs ich nicht mit ihr auf. Ich entschied, die Lektüre als Erwachsene nachzuholen und erwarb diesen wunderschönen Sammelband.

 

In einem Paralleluniversum, in einer Welt, die der unseren ähnlich und doch ganz anders ist, wächst Lyra unter den Gelehrten des Jordan College in Oxford auf. Stets begleitet von Pantalaimon, ihrem Seelengefährten und Dæmon, verbringt sie ihre Kindheit unbeschwert in den verwinkelten alten Gemäuern. Mit ihrem besten Freund, dem Küchenjungen Roger, erlebt sie so manches Abenteuer in den verstaubten Gängen und auf den erhabenen Dächern des Colleges. Ihr mangelt es an nichts. Lyra ist glücklich. Doch ein Schatten droht, ihr Glück zu verdunkeln. Besorgte Gerüchte erreichen Oxford. Ängstlich flüstert man von den Gobblern, die durch das Land ziehen und wahllos Kinder rauben. Lyra schwört, sich niemals stehlen zu lassen und plant bereits ihren heroischen Kampf gegen die Entführer. Es trifft jedoch nicht sie, sondern Roger. Wild entschlossen, ihren besten Freund zurückzubringen, schließt sie sich den Gyptern an, dem fahrenden Volk, das auf den Flüssen Englands zuhause ist und ebenfalls Kinder an die Gobbler verlor. Es ist der Beginn einer fantastischen Reise, während derer Lyra Freundschaft mit Panzerbären, Hexen und mutigen Abenteurern schließt, die Grenzen ihres Universums hinter sich lässt und das Zünglein an der Waage eines gewaltigen Krieges um das Schicksal aller Welten sein wird.

 

Ich bin der einsamste Mensch der Welt. Ich glaube, ich bin die einzige Person auf diesem Planeten, die „His Dark Materials“ nicht bezaubernd fand. Vielleicht stimmt etwas nicht mit mir. Ich bin fest davon ausgegangen, dass ich die Geschichte mögen würde, ich hatte überhaupt keine Zweifel daran. Pustekuchen. Was ist da nur schiefgegangen? Ich bin erschüttert. Ich verstehe nicht, wieso ich keinen Zugang zu der Trilogie fand, obwohl ich mich anstrengte und abrackerte, immer wieder Anlauf nahm, mir der Rhythmus der Geschichte jedoch verschlossen blieb, sodass ich nie in ihr ankam. Mir fehlte der magische Sog, der so viele Kinderbücher auszeichnet. Ich konnte mich mental nicht in Philip Pullmans Multiversum hineindenken und war nicht fähig, Beziehungen zu den Figuren aufzubauen. Stattdessen erschien mir das gesamte Werk langatmig und zäh wie eine alte Schuhsohle. Es kam mir vor, als hätte sich Pullman nicht entscheiden können, ob er nun ein abenteuerliches Kinderbuch oder eine theologisch-philosophische Abhandlung schreiben wollte. Der Autor wurde für den angeblich anti-religiösen Ton der Romane scharf kritisiert, besonders von der katholischen Kirche in den USA. Wie irgendjemand auf die Idee kommen kann, „His Dark Materials“ als anti-religiös zu bezeichnen, entzieht sich meinem Verständnis. Natürlich ist es ein kontroverses Werk, das sich von den Lehren der christlichen Kirche distanziert, demzufolge lautet der richtige Begriff allerdings anti-institutionell, keinesfalls anti-religiös. Pullman bespricht zahlreiche religiöse Motive und betont die schlichte Schönheit des Glaubens, wird er nicht vom Klerus gesteuert und beschnitten. Intellektuell und theoretisch weiß ich diese Herangehensweise als faszinierend zu schätzen – praktisch und emotional blieb sie mir leider völlig suspekt. Ich konnte mit dem Auftauchen von Engeln, einer göttlichen Vaterfigur und der Verarbeitung des biblischen Sündenfalls überhaupt nichts anfangen. Es war mir alles zu viel, zu gewichtig und zu symbolisch. Ich vermisste Leichtigkeit, Spannung und Witz, war von der verbissenen, künstlichen, geballten Kritik der Geschichte abgeschreckt. Ich quälte mich mühsam durch die Lektüre und sah nur selten einen Lichtblick. Beispielsweise mochte ich das Konzept der Dæmons als ausgelagertes, externes Stück der Seele eines jeden Menschen, hätte dieses aber ohne die Einleitung meiner Ausgabe wohl nicht oder erst spät verstanden. Auch sympathisierte ich mit vielen Figuren, war von ihrer jeweiligen Rolle in der Geschichte jedoch nicht begeistert. Der Panzerbär Iorek Byrnison und der Aeronaut Lee Scoresby sind tolle, liebenswerte Charaktere, doch ihre Beziehung zur Protagonistin Lyra, die ich ohnehin nicht mochte, konnte ich nicht nachvollziehen. Es war wie verhext: ich entdeckte in „His Dark Materials“ einiges, was mir für sich genommen gefiel, nur im Rahmen der Geschichte überzeugten mich diese Elemente nicht und halfen mir nicht, mich durch diesen dicken Wälzer zu kämpfen.

 

Am Ende einer enttäuschenden Kinderbuch-Lektüre stellt sich natürlich immer die Frage, ob die Geschichte auf mich anders gewirkt hätte, hätte ich sie gelesen, als ich noch zur Zielgruppe gehörte. Im Fall von „His Dark Materials“ glaube ich das nicht. Ich wäre zwar nicht in der Lage gewesen, die vielen kritischen Nuancen der Trilogie zu benennen, aber ich hätte wahrgenommen, dass da etwas zwischen mir und der Geschichte steht. Ich bezweifle stark, dass ich im Alter zwischen 6 und 11 Jahren Spaß mit Lyras Abenteuern gehabt hätte, weil sie eben einfach nicht abenteuerlich genug geschrieben sind. Ein Kinderbuch, das lediglich von Erwachsenen verstanden werden kann, verfehlt meiner Meinung nach das Ziel. Nun gut. Es hat nicht sein sollen. Das ist sehr schade und ich bin immer noch völlig perplex, wie sich diese Lektüre für mich gestaltete, doch damit muss ich jetzt leben. Es ist ja nicht meine erste unpopuläre Buchmeinung, die ich in Zukunft beständig verteidigen muss. Ich habe Übung darin, der einsamste Mensch der Welt zu sein.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2018/02/20/philip-pullman-his-dark-materials
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review 2018-02-03 21:41
Pullman Sprinkles Some More Magic Dust!
La Belle Sauvage - Philip Pullman

When it’s been more than 20 years since the publication of an awesomely successful trilogy, there must be a temptation to just leave it alone. Notwithstanding the frenzied publicity, there’s an attendant apprehension for the (now older) fans that a savoured memory might be about to be irreparably tarnished. Of course, my bluff was called by the Christmas gift of a copy of Phillip Pullman’s prequel to the original “His Dark Materials” (my family know me so well). Though, to be fair, I did delay my gratification until January and the last remnants of festive chocolate, before gorging myself in sumptuous sessions of novel gluttony. 546 pages swept past with all the force of the flood that has beset Pullman’s parallel Oxford. And, amid the carnage, an unlikely pair of guardians for Lord Asriel’s baby daughter – Lyra Belacqua.


Still, it was reassuring to discover the author’s story-telling has not dimmed at all in the intervening years and this latest adventure unfolds at a gloriously break-neck pace. All the familiar components are present, the fascinating animal dæmons accompanying each human, like an external emotional core; the alethiometer – an instrument of almost mystical qualities, powered by ‘dust’; and the ongoing struggle between the malevolent Magisterium (church) and scientific schools of thought. Throw in a giant, a witch and a fairy and what’s not to like?!


What I do like is the seamless way Pullman has laid the foundations of the later books here and even offered some deeper explanation for why, in due course, Lyra will find herself the subject of ‘scholastic sanctuary’ at Jordan College. We haven’t learnt much more yet about the relationship between her parents, Asriel and the enigmatic Mrs Coulter, but their absence from the life of their daughter is curious, especially since the baby’s safety is instead reliant on eleven year-old Malcolm Polstead and fifteen year-old pub washer-upper, Alice. But, what great heroes they turn out to be!

 

For younger readers there’s surely a certain satisfaction in seeing these main characters outwit their elders, however, that’s not to suggest the book cannot be appreciated by an adult readership. Indeed the brutality of some scenes and the protagonist’s struggle with their part in the violence suggests that this is more than simply a tale of derring do. In any event, Pullman’s compelling storyline that pits good versus evil fizzes along and readers (young and old), can expect to be rooting for the good guys and hoping the cruel wrong’un with the three-legged hyena for a dæmon, gets his comeuppance!

 

Using Malcolm’s canoe (the ‘Belle Sauvage’), the youngsters need to navigate the flooded Thames valley and get Lyra to safety in London, traversing the natural barriers and avoiding the chasing Magisterium agents, who have other designs on the child of prophecy. For me 'His Dark Materials' set the bar very high, but I'm delighted to report that  ‘The Book of Dust’ is a magnificent romp that skilfully adds to the existing classic trilogy and has left this reader wanting more. What more could I ask for....the next two books in the new series perhaps (family take note)?

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review 2016-11-18 23:41
The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials - Mary Gribbin,John Gribbin

This is such an amazing book!

 

I loved the His Dark Materials trilogy (The Subtle Knife admittedly less than the other two, because it was less about Lyra being awesome and more about her deferring to Will) and this book made me love the series even more.

 

Mary and John Gribbin give some background information into the science of Pullman's stories. It's basically like reading bits of A Brief History of Time thrown into the series.

This book covers all three of Pullman's novels and has specific chapters for explaining each of the title instruments (the golden compass, the subtle knife, and the amber spyglass) along with other aspects of the series.

 

I really liked how easy to read this book was. The Gribbins take advanced concepts such as string theory, quantum mechanics, evolution, and entanglement and simplify them so they are more easily understood by young readers (and those of us who are not scientifically inclined).

 

This is a great read. The text in informative and often humorous. It is clear that the authors love the His Dark Materials series and it is easy to share in their enthusiasm for the story as well as the science behind it.

 

While the book was published in 2003, the concepts they discuss are still applicable today (plus the series was written in the 90s so the science is still relevant for Pullman's time period).

 

The book also contains an introduction by Pullman himself. In the introduction Pullman states, "Although I'm a science fan, I'm not fundamentally a scientist. I'm a storyteller. A genuine scientist would love the subject for itself; I think I love science for the stories that are told about it." I have never been able to put into words why I love science, but now Pullman has done it for me. This is a great book to interest young readers in science as well as storytelling.

 

Highly recommend for those who enjoyed the His Dark Materials trilogy and are fascinated by science.

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review 2016-10-29 00:08
Really enjoyable audiobook version
The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman

I listened to this book as an audiobook. I actually enjoyed it in this format very much. It was mainly read by the author, but it also had a full cast for the characters. Much better than when a male reader tries to imitate female voices. Though sometimes that can be very funny. It reminded me of the fairy tale cassettes I used to fall asleep to as a child.

 

The story itself is about a girl, Lyra. It's obvious from the first moment that she's one of those destined children so popular in fantasy fiction. She's also 11, which is a common age to start child characters off. Lyra is a smart and cunning child. One of those natural leaders that can be the next Martin Luther King Jr., or the next Stalin. Which one she will become depends entirely on her basic temperament and life experiences. She is also very adaptable, just like her daemon. Whatever environment she finds herself in, she becomes part of it. She does feel like a normal child though. Sometimes children in stories are like mini-adults, but she isn't. I do find it interesting that a man picks a little girl to write about, while a similar destined character, Harry Potter, was written by a woman.

 

Daemons are the very core of the story. At first, I didn't feel they were properly explained. I got that daemons were the souls of people, but how they could function only became clearer as the story progressed. Daemons were the true forms of souls. They revealed the hidden desires, personalities, thoughts of people. It would be nice to have a daemon in real life. According to a Buzzfeed test, mine would be a cat.

 

There are some other characters, that were very intriguing, and a joy to read about. My personal favourites were the witches. Interestingly enough, they're the non-Christian characters, though they also seem to have some sort of a religion. I loved how Serafina Pekkala talked about the life of witches, how their longevity was a blessing and a curse.

 

The armoured bears were also interesting. I was especially intrigued by Iofur Raknison. He is a bear, who wants to be a man to be baptised. In a way, he reminded me of many peoples that decided to convert to Christianity, shunning their own native cultures. It wasn't properly explained though, what his motivations were. Maybe a form of self-hate. Hating being a bear, because he thought being a man would be more. Or he wanted the absolution for the things that he had done that the Catholic Church offers to people. To be free of his sins. Of course, sins can only be forgiven by ourselves if we want to be free of them, and some sins are purely imaginary, like the whole Original Sin idea. Religion tells you, you are sick, and they have the cure. The only trouble is, most people aren't sick at all. If you do have true sins, like Iofur, the forgiveness of others has no real meaning. It can help people to find a way to forgive themselves, which is probably what Iofur is really seeking, but in the end, the matter has to be dealt with on the inside of every person.

 

The story is about the importance of self, of thinking, free will. The evil people in the story are basically all those religious organisations that try to tell people how and what to think. I'm not completely sure yet what dust is exactly, but I have a few theories. I'm sure the story will be more and more about religion, having listened to Philip Pullman in interviews, but I'm curious as to where he will take the story. I do have the whole series as audiobooks, and lots of time to listen to them as I come and go.

 

This book can be read two ways. As a child, seeing the adventure, the evil characters, and cheering Lyra on. Or as an adult, observing the underlying themes, thinking about how freethinking has been hampered, progress, imagination stiffened by religion. I know, probably lots of religious parents are scared to give the book to their children, because of the very thing that I've written. However, if their religion is true, should it not withstand the test of reading fiction?

 

I do recommend this book. It's great fun, though brace yourselves for the ending. In a way, on its own, it was a bit like The Hunger Games' brand of dystopia. Also makes you think. Who ever said that books that made you think about religion had to be boring?

 

Read my review of the movie as well! I do compare it with the book.

 

Cross-posted at http://unapologetic-reviews.blogspot.com, where you can find more reviews.

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review 2016-09-10 16:31
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

An utterly absorbing tale, which sparkles in its creativity and reaches young and older readers alike, with the quality of Pulman's writing. The characterization is exceptional, the plot intriguing and the pace superb. A modern classic series which really does deserve the description, page-turner.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1521145388
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