Magazine article School Librarian

Pullman, Philip: La Belle Sauvage (the Book of Dust)

Magazine article School Librarian

Pullman, Philip: La Belle Sauvage (the Book of Dust)

Article excerpt

Pullman, Philip

La Belle Sauvage (The Book Of Dust)

Random House, 2017, pp568, 20 [pounds sterling]

978 0 38560 441 3

Phillip Pullman's latest visit to his alternative, steampunk, Oxford, promised as Volume One of another trilogy, has been long awaited. The danger, of course, in eager anticipation is potential disappointment. Northern Lights in 1995 was a triumph. Wholly imagined, original, engaging, thought provoking and moving, it won the Carnegie Medal. The invention of the 'daemon', the animal form of a person's inner self, of a different gender, intimately connected to them but capable of independent action and thought, is a profound literary creation. Every reader wonders what their daemon would be, what it would reflect and reveal about them and, once experienced, how they would live without it. The fear of such separation drives the trilogy already published.

So, opening the new book and finding that the first paragraphs set the opening scenes in Godstow Priory and The Trout Inn, both real places in our world--on the Thames outside Oxford, ruined in the one case and open for business in the other--is to experience both relief and anticipation. In Pullman's world, the Priory is full of life, the pub a fair bit less gastro than in ours, but still just as recognizable as is his Oxford of Jordan College and the Woodstock Road. The transformation is subtle but profound and assured. From the opening scenes of the new novel, you know you are in safe hands. …

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