His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.
Alfred A. Knopf/Random House: NY.
Originally published by Scholastic Children's Books: Great Britain.

The Golden Compass: 1996 (Britain 1995)
The Subtle Knife: 1997
The Amber Spyglass: 2000

The Golden Compass: Raised by the scholars and servants at one of the Oxford universities, running wild with the children of the town and universities, Lyra longs to go North in search of her "uncle" and adventure. Her best friend disappears from Oxford, thought to be kidnapped along with other children by the Gobblers for some sort of sacrifice. She sets out with great determination to rescue him, finding allies along the way where she can.

Mostly a book of epic adventure and intrigue, it also touches on the psyche or soul with the dæmons-individual creatures who are bound to their respective humans. Those of children can change aspects, but in adolescence they "settle" into one form. There is also a connecting point with other worlds (universes) through the Northern Lights. In this series, Lyra's world is the alternate universe, and it is her destiny to travel to ours. She has no difficulty finding protectors but makes her own decisions and follows her own path.

The excitement builds throughout the book with its twists and turns and a knowledge that there are momentous events to come. Not quite on the level with Harry Potter by Rowling and The Dark Is Rising by Cooper, but the story and details are truly exciting. The language and planning are not as complex.
related-missing person, experiment, arctic region, alter ego

The Subtle Knife: Lyra joins Will who has an overwhelming quest of his own. From different worlds, they meet in another world altogether. A world in which the Specters feed on the souls of adults leaving a chaotic world of children. Within this world there was an organization of philosophers who crafted a knife that could cut through anything. Little did they know that the power of the knife was much greater and diverse and would become the ultimate weapon in the war to come.

Will's quest is to find his explorer father who has been missing for years. In his attempts he is drawn into the epic adventure in which Lyra is fated.

While there are parts of the book that are fascinating, it is more disjointed than The Golden Compass and has some slow spots. The book is obviously important in the buildup to the conclusion. My favorite parts are regarding the connecting of worlds, the further understanding of Dust and dæmons, and the story of Will's father.

The Amber Spyglass: The third book is the epic struggle between the religious Authority and Lord Asriel and his rebels who wish to end the Authority's inquisitorial rule. Lyra is known to play a pivotal role in the confrontation, and so she is being hunted. Dr. Malone is also a target and has fled into another world. Her task is to live and study with the beings of that world to form a better understanding of the Dust particles and their importance in the life cycle. Will accompanies Lyra into the afterlife to set Roger free and, in doing this, they change the pattern of life and the Dust. Their relationship and sacrifices also are significant in the reformation of the ruling structures in the worlds.

The dæmon, or soul, is still a primary focus of the story. The ultimate conflict is resolved simply through Lyra and Will's relationship, growth, and thought instead of the usual colossal battle.
related-coming of age, innocence, consciousness, other conscious beings, evolution, adaptation

More reviews of His Dark Materials
The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass

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