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I Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Dust - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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August 31st, 2007


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12:49 am - I Will Show You Fear in a Handful of Dust
About a month ago, lodessa made an excellent post of things to read in a post-Harry Potter world. One recommendation was His Dark Materials:
3) Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy
* Huge aspirations
* Being made into a major movie
* Interesting Theological Concepts
* Strong World Building
* Bit off more than it could chew... but still chewed enough to be worthwhile
* Classified as Children's/YA fiction but more appropriate for adults

The major movie had piqued my interest in the books, which I had heard of over the years, though I can't remember why. Perhaps you have heard of them too, whispered in the hallways, invisible waves ofapproval radiating through the air. The movie marketing led to discussion of the book by fans such as hobviously and atropos116, whose claims that the books were "SO AWESOME" finally convinced me to give them a shot.

The Golden Compass has one of the most confusing first chapters I've ever read, perhaps rivaling Foucault's Pendulum. Pullman just drops you into this world with Lyra and her dæmon as if it's perfectly normal. Adding to the confusion is the fact that Lyra's world is very similar to our world, but not exactly the same (for instance, the whole dæmon thing). Even though Pullman specifically explains that the first book takes place in a universe like ours and that our universe does not appear until the second book, it was still hard to comprehend. The first chapter feels like you're in the middle of the book (as Tropie said, he takes in medias res very seriously), but, when you look back, it truly is the beginning of the story, for Lyra. It's the reader's handicap that he doesn't know what the hell is going on. Thankfully, Pullman drops in some helpful exposition in the third chapter, and he continues to explain the dæmon concept by showing and not telling, which is pretty masterful. A lot of the fun of the first book, in my opinion, is learning what dæmons are and how they work, so I don't want to say too much about it. Suffice it to say that they are animal companions (and not demons).

One thing that struck me (and got me through the confusion) is that I really liked Pullman's writing style. It was prose-y enough to be interesting but not so prose-y as to be trying too hard to be an Important Piece of Literature. He plays a wryly omniscient narrator for the most part, connecting the story to the past and future when appropriate. What's fun about the narration is that, despite its omniscience, it is rarely intrusive. That is, there are many times where a character learns something that, to the reader, has great significance but to the character is not immediately relevant because he does not know all that we do. And Pullman lets the reader put the pieces together himself. He also has a great talent for simile and metaphor: "Lyra's knowledge had great gaps in it, like a map of the world largely eaten by mice."

The Subtle Knife raised the series to the level of awesomeness I had been expecting, as it had me flailing at points. This was truly one long story being told in three parts.

The Amber Spyglass, unfortunately, did not completely deliver what I was hoping/expecting. While I was not catastrophically unsatisfied, I was not deeply satisfied either.

People may ask—okay, people do ask how this series compares to Harry Potter, and I give the following response:

I think Philip Pullman is a better prose stylist than J.K. Rowling, and he tries to be a little more complex and adult, but his characters aren't as vibrant and alive. Really, it's hard to compare the two because they're...not really comparable. One is a seven-book series about a boy wizard defeating the Dark Lord. The other is a trilogy about a whole bunch of other shit.

The thing about Pullman's characters is that he relies on their inherent natures rather than truly characterizing them. I like them, and they are cool, but somehow, they don't feel as real as Rowling's. Like, I think J.K could tell me what Harry ate for breakfast on any given day. I don't think Pullman cares what Lyra ate for breakfast on any given day. Except that she would lie about it.

Why do I recommend this series? Any number of reasons. I like that Lyra's defining character trait is that she is a liar. Protagonists in children's literature are so often goodie-goodies because, well, they're kids. I really like, as a correlation, the theme of truth in the books. It's hard to explain, but there's a recurring thread about how true things are true, and it sounds stupid when I say it like that, but it's really neat in context. I like the important role that storytelling plays. Really, my favorite thing about the books is the ideas. One thing that becomes apparent in Lyra's world is that they don't seem to have anything called "physics"...but they do have this field called "experimental theology" that sure sounds similar. Yeah. In much the same way I love Christopher Pike for mixing vampire mythology with Hindu mythology, I love Philip Pullman for mixing Christianity with quantum physics. Also, there are witches and talking bears. (Hey, you got sci-fi in my fantasy! Hey, you got fantasy in my sci-fi!)

In case you haven't heard, there is a rather large religious component to the books, and Pullman is an anti-theist. So, if you are deeply religious, or especially deeply Christian, you might find the books deeply offensive. The story is highly influenced by Paradise Lost, from whence the title of the series comes. Personally, I found some of the religious concepts fascinating, but I also thought the narrative was pretty imbalanced toward painting religion and God as bad. I'm not entirely sure it was necessary in order to get across the ultimate message of the book, which I did like, but it's there all the same, for better or worse.

So I think that's it for the unspoilery section of this post. If you were considering reading the books, may this be the final kick in the pants you need. If you had never heard of them before now, may this be your chance to learn more and perhaps check them out yourself. They appear to be immensely popular. It would make you cool.

If you are already cool, follow me behind the cut. Uncool ones, beware of spoilers in the comments.




SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS



This is some buffering text for your eye to focus on, as you examine this post. Look here and not below, for below there are spoilers, and you would not want to read them, now would you? You would be spoiled! Your enjoyment would be ruined! How sad that would be for you. You might start crying. You might jump in a river. You might do something you may later regret, like sleep with your teacher. These are all documented side effects of being spoiled, and I don't want you to go through that. You should have the freedom to scroll. Scroll, dear reader, scroll to your heart's content and read only these darkened words.



SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS




Oh, what to talk about! I guess I'll go through a bunch of things that were kinda awesome. I cracked up every time Lyra's proficiency in lying was mentioned. I loved that the two protagonists are a liar and a murderer. The Iorek/Iofur fight was really sweet. The cliffhangers at the end of the first two books were EVIL. Er. This is not the best spoilery part of a post ever.

I believe the moment the series went from good to AWESOME for me was when Mary talked to the Shadows. It reminded me of Sphere, and I love those kinds of scenes, where you're communicating with this sort of alien consciousness. A precursor to this awesomeness was the scene when Lee Scoresby interviews the guys about Stanislaus Grumman, and one of them says that he sort of appeared out of nowhere so many years ago, and I audibly cursed as I realized that he was Will's father. It was such a cool moment, and I loved that Pullman sort of slips it in there without any sort of "HEY! LOOK AT THIS COOL REVEAL I AM DOING!" because Lee Scoresby, of course, has no clue about Will and there is no place in the narrative for a true reveal. In many ways, the second book kind of made the first book retroactively more awesome.

I love that the alethiometer sort of has a personality, that it sometimes "wants" to tell Lyra more, that it has a specific way of referring to itself.

I actually think my favorite character in the series is Mary Malone. Because she is like us, the readers. She is a normal person thrust into this fantastical story, and she reacts like a normal person would react. With a healthy dose of skepticism and bewilderment, but adapting after a while. Plus, she gets to MacGyver the titular spyglass. Science rules! (I really wonder who they'll cast. I get the sense that she's not supposed to be that hot in the book, but she'll surely be hot in the movies, because it's a movie. Woo.)

Lyra gets the golden "compass," Will gets the subtle knife, and Mary gets the amber spyglass. Eve, Adam, and the serpent. (As erroneous as the title The Golden Compass is, I prefer it to Northern Lights because of the parallelism with the other titles.)

I did not really give a flip about the touted "gay angels" and found Balthamos supremely irritating, but I did sort of cheer when he made a surprise appearance at the end to take out Father Gomez.

The DNA-targeted bomb was about as ridiculous as reading brain waves from space, but it was a cool idea.

I loved the "Tell them stories" motif. I liked that the ultimate message of the book was basically "Be excellent to each other. And also smart and creative and stuff." There was sort of a "Go humanity! Live up to your fullest potential!" vibe.

Oh, all right. It seems that most people I have talked to don't like the third book for various reasons. Let's talk about them! Perhaps we can strip away even more of jennythen's love of the books than I already have.

There are like a hundred pages where Lyra is ASLEEP. That is no fun. Perhaps a petty complaint, but still.

Larger is my complaint for the entire "world of the dead" storyline. It comes out of nowhere, and it feels like a way to keep Lyra and Will busy while the adults are upstairs plotting and planning and explaining the plan, which they had plotted after they thought of it. And Lyra really needs to apologize to Roger that much? He's twelve! He doesn't blame you!

I didn't like the concept of deaths like I liked the concept of dæmons, and I thought it was patently ridiculous that Lyra could fool her own death. Sure, she could deceive the King of the Bears, but deceiving her own death, a part of her, is like deceiving Pan, and you would certainly call foul on that, right?

I was completely baffled about the fact that Lyra was able to leave Pan behind and no one said anything. We had very explicitly been told and shown that you can only go so far from your dæmon. The man who hung onto Lee Scoresby's balloon died when he was pulled too far from his dæmon. When Lyra said she would die if she left Pan behind, she meant it literally. And, yet, there was no incredulous comment that all they felt was quite a bit of heartrending pain. I know it was finally explained/handwaved by Serafina Pekkala at the end as akin to some witch rite of passage, but I would have liked some fucking acknowledgement that something fishy was going on because Lyra never seemed to notice that she wasn't dead and that when she got back above ground, that Pan, like, was able to stay away from her. The fact that Lyra didn't say anything made it seem like it was perfectly natural, but it went against the rules he had previously so well defined. And then it was never really explained why Will's dæmon finally manifested, but I guess that may be included in the witch/shaman handwave.

I sort of like the idea of ghosts as part of a tripartite existence (spirit/soul/body), but I didn't get the concept of the world of the dead at all. Seriously, there is one world where every living being who has ever died stands around and moans? And while it has this sort of ooga-booga vibe surrounding it, you can cut windows and shit, just like it was a regular parallel world. I could not fathom a physical realm like that, and one that was entirely underground, in addition. But forget that: why does it exist at all? That never made any sense. The Authority sent everyone there? Because he's a big ol' bastard? Who's not really God anyway? This was a major problem with the series for me: the true reasons for the, you know, driving conflict of the story are never made very clear. It's just, "Hey, let's kill God!" And "You damn, dirty humans!" And...whatever. It's hard to understand the motivations on either side. By the time they had the big battle scene, I didn't even know why the hell anyone was fighting. I didn't know what the consequences of victory would be for either side.

Seriously, there's only one person named Roger in the entire world of the dead? Heh.

I don't really understand how the bomb created the abyss or whatever. It was so awesomely ka-boom-y it exploded in every single world?? And it punched a hole in reality? Well, I guess it also used the same energy Asriel did.

I don't buy that anyone would be all "I can't wait for my atoms to join the living universe! It will be so happy to obliviate myself!" Corollary: what the fuck was up with Lee Scoresby and Will's dad and the ghost army? The alethiometer said that when they left the world of the dead, they would become atoms. Period. Somehow, a bunch of ghosts are able to, what, hold themselves together and fight and shit? With no fucking explanation? And then they let themselves become atoms after they're done?

Another complaint: Asriel was lying when he said he wanted to destroy Dust? He really wanted to preserve it? Because killing God and warring against the angels MADE OF DUST are definitely what you want to do when you want to preserve Dust. Thanks for fucking around with the ending of the first book and half-ruining that great moment where Pan decides all the adults fear Dust so it must be good. Grr. STOP WITH THE LIES, PULLMAN.

Similarly: Mrs. Coulter WTF? It's like she became a totally different character in the third book. She became like Sloane and Lionel Luthor, where she flips back and forth between good and bad so much you stop caring because it can't make any sense after a while. It's all lies. But they're entertaining lies. And in the end, isn't that the real truth? The answer...is no.

Asriel and Mrs. Coulter take down Metatron all by themselves, and the Authority is LITERALLY BLOWN AWAY?? That's it? This is the big climax the series has been leading up to? Will lets this old guy out of his crystal cage and kills God by accident? Are you saying a regular instrument would not have cut through that cage, because otherwise I'm not seeing how Asriel would have required the subtle knife to win. There was this huge battle for the fate of all possible worlds, and it sort of just gets...deflated.

And then Mary Malone saves the world with marzipan because Will and Lyra, at age twelve, have a disturbingly hot makeout session that preserves Dust. I...what?

Now, I really liked their developing kiddie lurve, the way Pullman described it as each one noticing things about the other and sharing expressions and feelings. But...they're twelve. Even when Mary was telling her story about being twelve and kissing this guy, it didn't seem right. Kissing is not that hot at twelve! You're barely hormonal! When it became clear Will and Lyra were supposed to be Adam and Eve, I wondered how that would work out since they were, you know, twelve. Yet, besides some vague prophecy, it's never clear why, exactly, it's so important for Will and Lyra, specifically, to make out. Why that solves the Dust problem. And then later they stroke each other's dæmons and "lay together" IF YOU KNOW WHAT PULLMAN MEANS. It's all very icky.

And then there's the very tragic ending that sort of blindsides the happy couple. Because it's extremely important for every single window ever to be closed...but, hey, maybe you can give back enough to keep one window open: you know, the BIGGEST WINDOW OF THEM ALL. *headTARDIS* Look, I actually kind of like the idea of having to tell the harpies true stories so that they will guide you through the world of dead, to make sure you had a life worth living, and coming out into the beautiful world of the mulefa (who are awesome, incidentally) to atomize. Except, with the Authority dead, why is the world of the dead even around? And what do the angels have to do now? Can't they go around closing windows when they're bored? Why don't you just evacuate Cittàgazze and then create all the Specters you want? Surely, there was another way, another option. And the revelation that cutting windows creates Specters makes you look at all the windows Will cut before in a bad light. (So much of the third book seems to retroactively make the other two books less awesome, undoing the work of the second.)

I'm not sure whether I like the idea that in our world, dæmons are actually there but unseen because that makes me think of situtations like the guy who hung onto Lee Scoresby's balloon, and if you did that in our world and your dæmon was, like, a rhinoceros, you'd be kind of fucked. And I would buy it as an extra bit of awesome for Mary Malone, but then Serafina (who is also a pretty cool character) says that people won't see Will's dæmon either, which GAH. His dæmon physically manifested! It was just like Lyra's! And Pan was quite visible when she was outside of her own world. Why wouldn't anyone see Will's dæmon? Will saw Sir Charles Lathrom's/Lord Boreal's snake. In the first two books, it really feels like Pullman knows exactly where he's going and what's going to happen, and then you seriously doubt it in the third book. It's unfortunate.

Finally, I loved Dust and all the different explanations and manifestations in the various worlds, but I never really understood what the hell it was or what it was for or where it came from. It seems like the angels Dusted the humans thirty-three thousand years ago, but they're made of Dust? Which is really just particles of consciousness? Fairly secular particles of consciousness? Maybe the movies can get away with this after all.

Despite my problems with the third book, I liked the series overall for the generally rollicking story and the meld of sci-fi and fantasy with doses of theology. It had a bunch of neat ideas and cool moments. I suppose there was proportionally more awesome than lack of awesome (and/or negative awesome).



SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS




This is some buffering text for your eye to focus on, as you examine this post. Look here and not above, for above there are spoilers, and you would not want to read them, now would you? You would be spoiled! Your enjoyment would be ruined! How sad that would be for you. You might start crying. You might jump in a river. You might do something you may later regret, like sleep with your teacher. These are all documented side effects of being spoiled, and I don't want you to go through that. You should have the freedom to scroll. Scroll, dear reader, scroll to your heart's content and read only these darkened words.
Current Mood: crankycranky
Current Music: Incubus - Just a Phase

(101 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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[User Picture]
From:glasseseater
Date:August 31st, 2007 08:01 am (UTC)
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this is the kick in the pants I needed. these books, they're on my bookshelf! I don't know why I haven't read them yet.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 08:03 am (UTC)
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*kicks you in the pants*
[User Picture]
From:tibicina
Date:August 31st, 2007 09:43 am (UTC)
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I think part of the problem was actually just how much time he spent working on the third book. This is one of those things which, if you're reading them now, you're just not conscious of, but the first two books came out fairly quickly (a year or less between).. and then there were like 3 or 4 years until the third book. And... I think he may have changed his mind several times in there which managed to delay the book. At least that is my personal explanation. Personally, I was so happy to have the book and to find out what happened that I didn't mind.

I also like some of Pullman's other books. (Most of which are much more properly YA.) They are, mostly, very different, though. I think they got classified as YA partially based on his other works, partially because the protagonists are children and that always means they should be YA, and partially because adult publishers get much more grumpy about books which cross genre lines than YA books. In the YA world that /is/ the genre, so you can play around with other genre blurring as much as you want. If you write Sci-fi and have fantasy elements or fantasy and have sci-fi elements, publishers get grumpy. (Though that may be changing a bit, but somewhere there's a really lovely essay by Diana Wynne Jones on why she prefers writing YA books.)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:02 pm (UTC)
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I think part of the problem was actually just how much time he spent working on the third book. This is one of those things which, if you're reading them now, you're just not conscious of, but the first two books came out fairly quickly (a year or less between).. and then there were like 3 or 4 years until the third book. And... I think he may have changed his mind several times in there which managed to delay the book. At least that is my personal explanation.
Yeah, I can totally see that.
(Deleted comment)
From:birdsarecalling
Date:August 31st, 2007 11:14 am (UTC)
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The Amber Spyglass is clearly where Pullman's moral became more important to him than storytelling. A lot of the scenes read like set-pieces for his Very Deep Metaphors and Comments on Christianity. It's all very well and good that he wanted to write the anti-Narnia (he wrote a pretty well-known critique of the series in the Guardian about a decade back), but in doing so he falls into the same trap that C. S. Lewis did.

I'd really love to know how the young-adult audience reacts to The Amber Spyglass, since I speculate that the reason why a lot of adults were disappointed by it is that it doesn't have anything all that revolutionary to say. After two exciting books worth of build-up, that's a bit of a let-down. "Sin is good! Restrictive religion is bad! Enjoy life!" might be a new and exciting message to a thirteen year-old, but adult readers have probably already read a number of cautionary parables about oppressive religious upbringings. Certainly there's been sympathy for the devil in Paradise Lost for quite a long time.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:06 pm (UTC)
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A lot of the scenes read like set-pieces for his Very Deep Metaphors and Comments on Christianity.
See, I didn't really get this, so much. I was waiting for the Big Pullman Anvils, and they weren't as obvious and intrusive as I had been led to believe. You're right that he doesn't have much revolutionary to say besides, yeah, "Restrictive religion is bad!" which, well, duh.
[User Picture]
From:etherealclarity
Date:August 31st, 2007 11:40 am (UTC)
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Some of those things you mentioned bothered me, but most of them didn't.

Is it possible that you were so set up beforehand about the third book being disappointing that you read into the disappointments more?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
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I did think of that, and I don't know how much of it came into play because A) I also read someone's comments that said the second book wasn't great compared to the first, and I still loved it and B) I was having issues with the third book very early on, and I had always gotten the impression that whatever made people hate the third book was near the very end.

Honestly, though, even objectively, I can look back at what the first two books were purportedly setting up and see that it just doesn't seem to match up with what happens in the third book.
[User Picture]
From:pandarus
Date:August 31st, 2007 12:44 pm (UTC)
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The Amber Spyglass, unfortunately, did not completely deliver what I was hoping/expecting. While I was not catastrophically unsatisfied, I was not deeply satisfied either.

Wordy McWord. Although reading your review makes me want to go back and reread the books, and see what I think all over again. My recollections are a sense of disappointment that Pullman was giving us something so spiritually barren - I didn't find it uplifting. I was expecting, from what had gone before, that there would be more acknowledgment of God - not a personal God, not a limited and flawed God, not Yahweh, but the ultimate, impersonal, Nirvana/Brahman/Whatever power which is mentioned, and which the NotReallyGod that dies isn't.

I didn't want Him to come in and do anything - but I was honestly expecting that the resolution would involve a sense of, what, Cosmic Harmony that included God. Rather than children fucking.

Still, loved the first two books, and enjoyed many elements of the third.

If you've enjoyed these books, I'd recommend Philip Reeves' book 'Mortal Engines' and its sequels - I fucking LOVED these books. They're far future SciFi, technically, but more of a steampunk/fantasy sensibility, and I thoroughly enjoyed the prose. (I probably only slot them near Pullman's books in my brain because the writers share a first name - but I'd definitely recommend it. It's not as lauded as it should be, imho.)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
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more acknowledgment of God - not a personal God, not a limited and flawed God, not Yahweh, but the ultimate, impersonal, Nirvana/Brahman/Whatever power which is mentioned, and which the NotReallyGod that dies isn't.
Yeah, what ABOUT him, HUH? Whatever happened to the Creator?? That was an interesting idea, the God-who's-not-actually-God, and then...nothing.

I will keep Mortal Engines in the back of my mind, thanks.
[User Picture]
From:12_12_12
Date:August 31st, 2007 12:59 pm (UTC)
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This is a great review. I have no deep thoughts right now, other than: I agree with pretty much everything you said.

And your comparison of Pullman and Rowling is spot on. I think Pullman is a better writer, but Rowling makes you care more about her characters--it feels like you know them, rather than just watching them through a lens.

The last book kind of turned me off the series, but I'm definitely going to go back and re-read it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:13 pm (UTC)
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This is a great review. I have no deep thoughts right now, other than: I agree with pretty much everything you said.
Aw, thanks.

And your comparison of Pullman and Rowling is spot on. I think Pullman is a better writer, but Rowling makes you care more about her characters--it feels like you know them, rather than just watching them through a lens.
Yeah, that's a good way of putting it too. In some way, that "watching through a lens" feeling is neat in a storytelling sort of way, since Pullman plays the omniscient narrator. We're sort of watching these events unfold, privy to them like some secret show. But Rowling really brings us into a world of people. It's...just different, somehow. There's more actual character interaction that's illuminating.
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From:harper47
Date:August 31st, 2007 01:15 pm (UTC)
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I've been reading George R. R. Martin's Ice and Fire series. It's terrific - I'm on Book 4 now. They are epic and deep. You do have to like looking at the series from several different viewpoints however and there's a lot more death and destruction than a Harry Potter novel but the first book - A Game of Thrones owned me as soon as I started it.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:13 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I've heard great things about that, but...it's so long!! I'm afraid.
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From:gingerwood
Date:August 31st, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC)
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I had the same basic reaction, except that the third book pretty much wrecked the first two for me. All those beautifully constructed metaphores and then in the third book it's like he was so completely overcome with anti-christian sentiment that he had to stomp on everything with combat boots, so that in the end there was no point. Except maybe 'religion bad because I'm the author and I say so'

And yeah, the whole 'new Adam & Eve' thing was weird, pointless and squicky.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
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I actually didn't have that problem with the third book so much because, well, the very premise of the Authority, as described in The Subtle Knife, seemed anti-Christian/anti-God enough. Honestly, I expected a lot worse.
[User Picture]
From:punzerel
Date:August 31st, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, book 3 is so much less awesome than the other two. I think it's because book 3 is obsessed with his let's-kill-God message and the message trumped the story. Which is stupid. (CS Lewis also occasionally suffers from this, but in a Christian-message way rather than a super-anti-theist way.)

I love the first one, though - Lyra's Oxford is just so amazing to read about.

P.S. Lyra - "Lie-ra" or "Lee-ra"? I have an ongoing battle with a few people about this.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:17 pm (UTC)
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Um, obviously the former? I mean, LIE-ra. Come on, now. Also, it rhymes with Myra? Probably?

I think it's because book 3 is obsessed with his let's-kill-God message and the message trumped the story. Which is stupid.
See, the thing is the whole let's-kill-God ends up being so LAME. They don't even kill God! They just let him out, and he disappears, and the kids don't even know. Hell, barely anyone even notices! So...that's what all the build-up is for? There's a message in there?
[User Picture]
From:shpyum
Date:August 31st, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
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I keep meaning to read them. . .I'll get there. I just started rereading th Dark is Rising series, which I loved 15 years ago and then totally forgot until I saw they're making the 1st movie into a book. when I'm done with that, maybe. .. Martin's Song of Ice and fire is PHENOMENAL. One you get through book 1, which is poorly written. But they're making an HBO series! Woooo! The only thing about it is, Martin writes at a snail's pace, and he really discourages fanfic, so it's a long cold wait in between books.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, and the books are really long! I know the books are supposed to be awesome, but it sounds like I would forget everything that happened in the first book by the time I even started the next book, and then if there are years between them when I catch up...madness, I tell you!

And, dude!! I THOUGHT YOU HAD READ THESE BOOKS. YOU WERE THE ONE WHO WAS ALL "WOO, GAY ANGELS!"

P.S. Stay far, far, far away from the TDIR movie, I hear.
[User Picture]
From:jennythen
Date:August 31st, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC)
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Well, you already know how I feel, so:

I'm not sure whether I like the idea that in our world, dæmons are actually there but unseen because that makes me think of situtations like the guy who hung onto Lee Scoresby's balloon, and if you did that in our world and your dæmon was, like, a rhinoceros, you'd be kind of fucked.

Ha!

I'll still read books 1 and 2 from time to time, because I love them, I just won't feel compelled to finish the story.

[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Whereas I'm a completist! I mean, it would feel weird to stop at the end of book 2. Maybe I would just read the Mary Malone chapters of book 3. Until the kiddie porn. Heh.

Also, seriously, dæmons can be very inconvenient.
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From:daynr
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:07 pm (UTC)
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hmmmm. maybe I'll reread when I'm unemployed (!!!) but I think my shallow reasons for like the 3rd will stand.

Who is this Christopher Pike fellow with mixed in Hindu mythology? I love art based on Hindu mythology so I think I may explore that while unemployed too...
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:35 pm (UTC)
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What are your shallow reasons for liking the third book, then, huh, missy?

Christopher Pike is one of—well, my favorite teen horror author. And the Last Vampire series is very cool.
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From:jeeperstseepers
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
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The other is a trilogy about a whole bunch of other shit.

Very well put.

...but I also thought the narrative was pretty imbalanced toward painting religion and God as bad. I'm not entirely sure it was necessary in order to get across the ultimate message of the book,

But I think that was the message of the book. The message I took was "Religion is bad. People are good. Go do nice things and things that make you feel good."

Similarly: Mrs. Coulter WTF? It's like she became a totally different character in the third book. She became like Sloane and Lionel Luthor, where she flips back and forth between good and bad so much you stop caring because it can't make any sense after a while. It's all lies. But they're entertaining lies. And in the end, isn't that the real truth? The answer...is no.

Do you see why I stopped watching Alias? Mrs. Coulter is Irina Derevko. She was a different character depending on what Abrams was in the mood of doing.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Heh, nice icon there.

Very well put.
Heh.

But I think that was the message of the book. The message I took was "Religion is bad. People are good. Go do nice things and things that make you feel good."
Maybe because I'm not religious, the anti-religion sentiment didn't ping me as hard as the other part, which did resonate with me. Does that make sense? I really expected far worse; I thought there was going to be some horrifying indictment of Christianity or something, but...there wasn't, so much.

Do you see why I stopped watching Alias? Mrs. Coulter is Irina Derevko. She was a different character depending on what Abrams was in the mood of doing.
Ha, much better comparison than Sloane, since Irina Derevko, like Mrs. Coulter, LOVED HER DAUGHTER SO VERY MUCH...sometimes.
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From:quaint_shopgirl
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:44 pm (UTC)
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I just bought the trilogy yesterday and have read about 100 pages of The Golden Compass. I was hooked by the third page. I have a feeling I'll spend a majority of the weekend with a pot of tea and the book!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC)
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Oh yes. I read The Subtle Knife in one weekend. Once you're hooked, you're hooked! It's a lot of fun.
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From:sophia_helix
Date:August 31st, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC)
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I read the first one right around the time it came out, but had no idea there were others until sometime late in college. I adored Golden Compass when I read it at 16... liked the second one well enough... and seriously, I was reading your review of the third book being like "oh, yeah, I forgot that happened. Huh." Really, what I recall of the books has been shrunken down to the first one and the opening setting of the second, and that's it. Despite the fact that I thought I enjoyed them at the time, I think the imploding ending just kinda wiped most of the story out of my head. I didn't hate it, I just totally disconnected from it.

Also, YES READ Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. I know they are long (it took me a whole summer to read the first three), but they are so worth the time. I know lodessa at least has come to prefer them to HP.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:August 31st, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
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It's unfortunate it ended so poorly. It was so cool there, for a while. I wonder what will stick with me, although it will surely be influenced by what gets into the movies.

Maybe I should wait until Martin is done to read them all??

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