The Amber Spyglass (#3) by Philip Pullman

Published:  14th September 2001Goodreads badge
Scholastic Point
Pages: 548
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

70949Will is the bearer of the knife. Now, accompanied by angels, his task is to deliver that powerful, dangerous weapon to Lord Asriel – by the command of his dying father.

But how can he go looking for Lord Asriel when Lyra is gone? Only with her help can he fathom the myriad plots and intrigues that beset him.

The two great powers of the many worlds are lining up for war, and Will must find Lyra, for together they are on their way to battle, an inevitable journey that will even take them to the world of the dead…

The Amber Spyglass marks the final and gripping conclusion to the His Dark Materials trilogy. After an intense build up through the previous two books it all comes together in this magnificent story that brings everything together in perfect synchronisation, coupled with powerful emotions and an unforgettable series of events.

Structurally, Pullman is a master at weaving together everyone’s stories, one after the other and changing focus at just the right time. Even at the beginning when a unique point of view is provided, Pullman breaks this up incredibly well, giving it power in the words, as well as great narrative placement for the accompanying chapter.

There is so much you could say about this novel, from full and complicated characters to the incredible and complex plot and the magnificent way every tiny detail fits in and is not forgotten. The most admiral is of course the way everything connects and plays a role and the way Pullman can have so much emotion and meaning in the simplest of sentences. A single line can have so much power, and can break your heart in a moment, even if it isn’t all that sad.

From about halfway through the book, there is barely a page that goes by that doesn’t make you want to (or actually) tear up in fear and admiration, heartbreak or pride (may just be me though). These characters, who you have been following and falling in love with through each of these books, become so much a part of you that you wish they were real and you wish them happiness and safety, anything otherwise is unbearable.

It is amazing how Pullman manages to make you feel as if you are in these worlds besides the characters, of all the similar things some worlds have, there are grand and many differences, and yet you feel empathy and reflect on what you would do in the same situation, you feel the pain and the horror, the love and affection as if it were your own life. It messes you up but it is a wonderful feeling to have.

There is a sad beauty to The Amber Spyglass as well, in just a short period of time you can see how Lyra’s grown up, and you see her change as you read. The way she interacts with Roger in the final book compared with how she is in the first is bittersweet and is a wonderful example of how she’s changing. Pullman is wonderful at sprinkling in moments and sentences throughout all three that show these changes, always in the right places and always woven marvellously into the narrative.

Aside from the grand ideas, one things Pullman shines at is capturing voices. From Dr Mary Malone to Mrs Coulter, Lyra and Will, each unique voice captures the experience, inexperience, seduction, firmness, and strength that the person has or needs. There is life in the voices Pullman writes with that brings the characters out of the page and makes you believe they could be alive. Even the minor characters with the fewest of lines are alive with the voices Pullman gives them.

The wonderful thing about Pullman’s writing is that there is not one final moment of exhilaration and excitement that concludes this epic trilogy; instead it is ongoing and constant. At the start of the book there is quiet drama and suspense growing and building, each moment adding on the last until it breaks into a final dash to the end, not necessarily always fast paced but still spectacularly gripping. From midway through you can find the exact moment when things become even more intense. From then on there are rises and falls of tension and suspense, joy, sadness, and adventure. The final battle, predicted long ago in Northern Lights has finally arrived and Pullman makes you feel right in the middle, heart bursting with pride, uncertainty, and excitement as favourites fights for themselves, for Lyra, and for the side of good. It is an absolute thrill to read.

After such an impressive story and build up, the conclusion always had a chance to be a letdown. Yet Pullman offers an ending that you aren’t expecting but it is an ending that is the right and best ending there could be. The eloquence and style in how the story concludes, bringing forth references all the way from Northern Lights through each book, is divine. Everything is wrapped up with loose ends tied but everything is not perfect, which is the best way to do it, after a story like this there needs to be scars.

This is a story that makes you want to cry because of happiness and cry because of heartache. This is such a big bold story that is littered with importance and fantasy and magic and truth that there is no other way to tell it than with big emotions. From page one begins a story that will touch you and move you and in all honesty it is going to get worse and more emotional before you reach the halfway mark and then rip your heart out and step on it a few times by the end. But it will do so with utter perfection and mastery, I promise.

You can purchase The Amber Spyglass via the following

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Depository | Booktopia

Bookworld | QBD

Dymocks | Kobo

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