If you follow me on Twitter (@RhysWolfgang), you’ll know I’ve been re-reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials as part of the #HDMreadalong to celebrate 20 years since the publication of Northern Lights (The Golden Compass).
I last read Pullman’s acclaimed series for the first time when I was about 11 –- about 8 years ago (I feel so old!). Whilst I was able to recall elements and overall narratives, re-reading the trilogy I was surprised by how much I had forgotten; particularly from The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It was rather nice to revisit them with some of the excitement of reading them for the first time.
Rereading the series, there are a few things that struck me:
- When His Dark Materials was published (1995-2000), YA fiction was still a twinkle in fiction’s eye (what a weird thought!). Pullman writes in what might be called very “traditional” prose; quite descriptive third person. It’s unusual to find that in YA any more since first-person narratives have taken over; but it was quite refreshing, if a little slow.
- How much I still love the Mulefa. I love the fact that they are non-humanoid sentient creatures. They’re just so cool and wonderful. This beautiful illustration by Katsaw is just how I imagined them!
- In fact, the Dr Malone/Mulefa chapters are some of my favourite parts of The Amber Spyglass; I just couldn’t get enough.
- I’d completely forgotten what real cowboy’s death Lee Scoresby has: “Damn, these are men like me.”
- Lee Scoresby’s daemon Hester would definitely be voiced by Sigourney Weaver. She’s got attitude, but in a good way!
All in all, Pullman’s His Dark Materials made a fine re-read; I love his ideas and world-building, even if his atheism and humanism are a little heavy-handed at times. They’re definitely books that’ll be read in another 20, 30 years, and hopefully for many more beyond that!
The #HDMreadalong continues with Lyra’s Oxford, Once Upon a time in the North and The Collectors. To enter the giveaway to win a set of the trilogy, tweet your favourite moment accompanied by the hashtag #HDMreadalong.