Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Secret Commonwealth

The Secret Commonwealth.jpg 

The second entry of author Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust trilogy begins a score after its predecessor and after the His Dark Materials trilogy, with Lyra now a student, and her dæmon Pantalaimon witnessing a murder. Lyra admires the work of various philosophers, and has the ability to “separate” from her dæmon, which leads to a philosophical argument between her and Pan that leads the latter to abandon her “in search of her imagination.” Lyra consequentially goes in search of Pan, believing a location known as the Blue Hotel is key to finding her dæmon.

Pan has his own adventures, at one point visiting a German school for the blind, whilst Lyra travels across Europe to get clues on where to find the Blue Hotel, visiting Prague at one point. She soon arrives in Constantinople, where the assassination of a high-ranking religious official occurs, and in the meantime, Pan meets with another individual who has lost her dæmon named Nur Huda el-Wahabi. Furthermore, a man named Malcolm seeks to find Lyra before a vengeful man named Bonneville does, and the book concludes with Lyra meeting Nur Huda.

All in all, I reasonably enjoyed this novel, although the major time jump from the first book in the series to the second definitely won’t appeal to everyone looking for a standalone story, and reading the His Dark Materials trilogy is a must to understand the general structure of the setting and such. That it’s significantly more mature, given some coarse language and adult situations, definitely won’t appeal to younger audiences, either, although as an adult, I definitely didn’t mind. The significant gap between the first and second books in The Book of Dust definitely makes me wonder what direction the conclusion of the trilogy will take.

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