The story of Lyra Silvertongue has spanned generations. Since the release of Northern Lights in 1995, Lyra and her daemon have been captivating audiences. And then in 2017, Philip Pullman granted his fans deepest wishes and gave them a new His Dark Materials series. The first book in the new The Book of Dust series, La Belle Sauvage takes place before the original series – when Lyra is just a baby. Now, book two, The Secret Commonwealth picks up when Lyra is 20 years old, ten years after we left her and Will Parry at the end of the His Dark Materials series.
Lyra is no longer a child. She has grown up, along with the readers who loved her in the original series. Lyra and Pantalaimon, her daemon, are trying to navigate their way through their now tenuous relationship. As they’ve grown older, they’ve grown apart, a fact which breaks both their hearts, but they don’t know how to fix. But when Pan witnesses a murder in the early chapters, they are drawn into a dangerous world where Lyra finds that she is again the target of The Magisterium – the powerful church in this alternative universe that is growing ever stronger. With the help of Malcom, the main character from La Belle Sauvage, and a host of familiar characters from the original series, Lyra embarks on a journey that will take her across Europe and into Asia, picking up breadcrumbs of clues that will eventually lead her to uncover secrets – the secrets of a city haunted by daemons, secrets hidden in the heart of a desert, and the mystery of the elusive Dust.
Pullman has written an exceptional novel. This is storytelling at its very best. The imagery is rich and pulls you into the familiar, yet strange, alternative world Lyra lives in. You read Pullman’s words and are completely enveloped in the story. You are taken on this powerful adventure with the characters, visiting far off places, and wishing you had your own daemon to keep you company.
The Secret Commonwealth is truly a book written for those who read the His Dark Materials series as children (or adults). The tone is darker, there are scenes of adult nature, and Lyra is learning who she is in her world. But overall, the story is for us. It provides a thought-provoking look at what it means to understand yourself, to grow up and figure out your place in the world around you. It allows us to look back on childhood, and reflect on who we were then and who we are now. Beautifully written, and forever memorable this book makes you want to reread the entire series again, just to stay in their world for a little longer.
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