His not so Dark Materials

I could rant about work–since it persists on being seductively rantable–but that would be so boring. So I’m going to talk about His Dark Materials instead.

His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass)

This fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman has been praised, admired and glorified by book critics everywhere that I almost feel guilty about bashing it here in my humble blog. 😀 I did say almost.

His Dark Materials is composed of three volumes: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, featuring the epic story of Lyra, an English girl in an alternate universe. I bought and read all three in a week, expecting the same or more amount of wondermousness in The Bartimaeus Trilogy (by Jonathan Stroud) as HDM’s fame exceeds that of Bartimaeus.

The sum of my reactions: raised eyebrow

To be honest, the book didn’t suck. Pullman is gifted with creating a believable and vast fantasy world that isn’t gacked from The Lord of the Rings or any other pre-existing popular books of the same genre. His attention to detail is amazing and even minor characters are given a depth of personality that other writers don’t bother to do. The story is original and unexpected. The plot contains enough theological arguments for people like me and Alet to talk and fight about for a month.

I won’t yap about the “God is a tyrant and a wimp” implication because that wouldn’t be politically correct and I respect that different people have diverse beliefs and they can rant about Catholics and the Church if they feel like it (and vice versa). I won’t even react violently to the romance between the two main characters even if they were both twelve because even underage people have the right to love and ancient Aztecs were probably having sex at that age years ago. (Romeo and Juliet were in their early teens.) Besides, I’m not age-ist.

BUT why OH WHY did Pullman make his main character, Lyra, so ridiculously unlikeable? Okay, so she’s young, and she supposedly has a strong character which would account for her stubbornness. But in many parts of the HDM, her stubbornness slides to sheer stupidity and her emotional angst becomes overbearing.

All in all, HDM can be a good read. The uniqueness of the story is worth it. Just don’t expect it to be that good.

Oh, they’ve made it into a movie. I hope the film will be better than the book.


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