» Slate, Katy Waldman: The Book of Dust, Volume 1, subtitled “Fall in love with Philip Pullman’s imagination all over again”
The headline on Slate’s homepage is “La Belle Sauvage Is a Masterpice: Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials will fall in love with his highly anticipated follow-up.”
I am confident in pronouncing that people will love the first volume of Philip Pullman’s trilogy, The Book of Dust, with the same helpless vehemence that stole over them when The Golden Compass came out in the mid-’90s, or even when they first met their partners or held their newborn children. Pullman, now 70 and living in Oxford with his wife, a teacher, is simply one of the best storytellers to wave his hand over English literature. La Belle Sauvage (the first installment of this series set in the same dusky and glimmering multiverse as His Dark Materials, a world largely mute since 2000’s The Amber Spyglass) excites a specific enthrallment that is all the headier for being familiar. The Book of Dust is love—nostalgic, warming, pure—at first mote.
» NY Times: Sarah Lyall, With ‘La Belle Sauvage,’ Philip Pullman Begins a New Trilogy
The reviewer quibbles but concludes,
I recognize that my expectations are impossibly high and that, in literature as well as in romance, you cannot return to the exact feeling you had before. I’d like to think that Pullman is biding his time, laying down the groundwork for what is yet to come.
And even with its longueurs, the book is full of wonder. By the end, when Malcolm and a young woman named Alice embark with Lyra on a perilous watery odyssey replete with strange undersea creatures and various other things not dreamed of in our philosophy, it becomes truly thrilling. (Wait till you hear about the ancient practice of “scholastic sanctuary” at Jordan, a fictional Oxford college.) It’s a stunning achievement, the universe Pullman has created and continues to build on. All that remains is to sit tight and wait for the next installment.
» Guardian: Marina Warner, The Book of Dust Vol 1: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman review – worth the wait
Philip Pullman is the living heir of Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald and, yes, CS Lewis – in spite of Lewis being his chief bugbear, whom he attacks furiously for his religiosity and misanthropy. While JK Rowling carried on the tradition of jolly school adventures and gripping supernatural yarns, he has chosen the pilgrim road of fantastic metaphysical allegory, and his new book nods to Spenser’s The Faerie Queene in the same way as His Dark Materials took on Milton and Paradise Lost. In this longed-for opening volume of the new trilogy, Pullman faces his lineage without apology: his young heroine is even called Alice, and the story follows her as she is swept down the Thames in the eponymous canoe of the hero, Malcolm. But whereas the Thames offered Carroll’s Alice an idyllic, pastoral meander, a very contemporary apocalypse explodes around this older Alice.
» The Verge: Andrew Liptak, Looking back on the anti-authoritarian themes of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
With the arrival of The Book of Dust, it’s worth looking back on Pullman’s dazzling trilogy. While readers have enjoyed a glut of great YA fantasy novels in the last two decades, His Dark Materials particularly stands out because of Pullman’s unwillingness to compromise a complex ethical and moral story for his younger audience, and his determination to move beyond a simple story of good versus evil.
– – –
Just go to Google Maps and zoom out (using the minus sign) as far as you can until you can see the entire planet Earth. Toggle to “satellite view” in the left hand corner. If you’re all the way zoomed out, a list of planets and moons you can explore will automatically pop up on the left side of the screen.