The Amber Spyglass
(His Dark Materials, Book 3)
by Philip Pullman
narrated by Philip Pullman
Produced by Listening Library
Approx 12 hours
I have finally finished the series of "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman. I set out on this reading adventure intrigued by the protestations from organized religion when the movie came out. I saw the movie and didn't see what the hubbub was about. So then I thought well maybe it was in the book and they left out parts from the movie to keep the religious right from protesting. After reading the first two books I still didn't see what the big deal was. Basically the series was just another fantasy young adult series that borrowed from many mythologies to create a very creative well told story. With this third book in the series I still wonder why all the fuss, but can see where closed minded individuals who believe "their truth" to be the only truth worry that the series may instigate the young masses to form thoughts on their own. Okay, that was a bit harsh, but I still just don't get it. Yes the third book does see the death of a deity known as "The Authority," but it also sees the death of a fallen angel by the name of Metatron, and yes, this book is Philip Pullman's way of writing a book that promotes an alternative to organized religion, but, the general idea of good triumphing over evil and everyone can make a difference and we must fight for our freewill doesn't make people become evil.
I was very pleased to find the books available in audio book form and especially once I found that the audio book featured a multi-cast as well as being narrated by the author himself. There are many characters in the book and the multi-cast helps to move the story along for the audio book with out the listener having to try to battle with trying to figure who is talking or thinking at the moment. The added bonus of having the author narrate the books helps to uncover intentions of the author himself.
This book may be a bit difficult to summarize because of the many events happening to close out this trilogy so I will touch a bit on the main events, but I will not give up the surprise ending.
Book two, "The Subtle Knife," left the listener with a cliffhanger. Lyra's mom, Marisa Coulter, captured Lyra and Will had just learned he had a task to help Lyra's father, Lord Asriel. Before he goes to the battle of the worlds with Lord Asriel, Will insists on finding and rescuing Lyra. Mrs. Coulter has Lyra in a cave to protect her from the Magisterum, the church/government that rules in Lyra's world. The Magisterum has sent out an assassin to kill Lyra before she can yeild to original sin.
Will has used his knife to escape an attack from the archangel Metatron. He is escorted by 2 angels one flies ahead to tell Lord Asriel of Will's plan while the other stays behind to assist Will. Upon hearing the news, Lord Asriel dispatches a small army to the cave where Lyra is being forced drugs to stay sleeping so she will be undetected, to counteract the zeppelins from the Consistorial Court. He also sends two Gallivespian spies, the Chevalier Tialys and the Lady Salmakia, to protect Lyra. Gallivespians resemble humans, but are approximately four inches tall and they ride dragonflies.
During this time Will runs into Iorek Byrnison, the bear king of the armoured Panserbjørne, who are migrating south to avoid the Arctic melt caused by the effects of Lord Asriel's bridge. Three forces — Will, Iorek, and Balthamos; Lord Asriel's army; and the army of the Magisterium — converge on Mrs. Coulter's cave, where Will is able to wake Lyra with a special powder that he sprays up her nostrils. He is cutting a window into another world when Mrs. Coulter turns and looks directly at him. For a moment, Will is reminded of his own mother; as a result, his concentration falters, and the knife shatters, having been unable to sever his affection. Because the window he has cut is open, Will, Lyra, and the Gallivespian spies manage to escape to another world.
Will and Lyra delay even further their trip to Lord Asriel's by going to the world of the dead. Will and Lyra mean to keep promises to Will's father and Lyra's friend Roger. In the world of the dead Lyra must leave her Daemon on the shore and is separated from her daemon. They soon discover the dead must be released from the abyss and Will uses the Subtle Knife to cut an opening and release the ghosts into the world. Once in the world the ghosts are freed and their atoms are free to mix back into nature.
The major battle begins between Lord Asriel's army and the army of Metatron. Ending with Lyra and Will reuniting with their daemons and Lyra's parents sacrificing themselves to destroy Metatron.
While all this is going on Dr. Mary Malone has stepped through a window from her own world (assumed to be the readers' world/Will's world) into another window into a stranger world. There she meets elephantine creatures who call themselves Mulefa and use large seedpods attached to their feet as wheels. These creatures have a complex culture, intricate language, and an infectious laugh. Although from completely different worlds, Mary and the Mulefa establish a rapport which results in Mary's acceptance into Mulefa community, where she learns that the trees from which the seedpods are gathered have gradually been going extinct for about 300 years. Mary uses the tree sap lacquer and accidentally constructs a telescope (the 'amber spyglass' of the title) that allows her to see the elementary particles known as Dust. Dust adheres to all life-forms that have attained a level of intelligence associated with building civilizations. She sees that Dust is flying away in large streams rather than falling on and nourishing the trees on which the Mulefa mutually depend.
After the battle Will and Lyra are reunited with Dr. Malone and soon learn their ultimate fate as well as the fate of all the worlds. Here is where I'll stop because the end of the book is a bit of a surprise, but I will tell you it is a very beautiful to end this magical tale. Spread the word to all your friends, "This series is a fun romp through fantasy and mythology with a lesson to learn."