The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
The sequel to Northern Lights, this is the second book in the 'His Dark Materials' Trilogy and introduces the character of Will Parry, a young boy who lives in Oxford (our world) with his ailing and increasingly confused mother and now on the run from a number of 'men in black' who seem to be searching for some letters sent from his missing explorer father, whom Will and his mother has not seen or heard from for years. After a scuffle with these mystery men, when they break into Will's home, one of the agents is accidentally killed and now Will must run for his life and try to find his father in order to help him and his mother. With his mother placed in the care of his old piano teacher Will ventures off and soon stumbles across a window to another world. Cittigazze is the City he stumbles across; but all is not well here, the place is deserted apart from a small, wild band of children who talk of spectres chasing away the adults. It is here he meets Lyra Belacqua, our heroine from the first book, who has traveled through the window from her world through the Northern Lights. Lyra has her Althiometer stolen and must retrieve something call the Subtle Knife in order to get it back. It soon becomes clear her and Will's meeting is not merely coincidence as Will becomes the successor to the previous owner of the Subtle Knife, which was made and resides in the City of Citigazze and is the key to opening an infinite number of windows to an infinite number of other worlds.
Now they must find Will's father in order to put things right in Will's world and help his mother, but Mrs Coulter, who Lyra has already learnt is her real but not naturally maternal mother, has other plans for Lyra and is determined to destroy her. With the help of the witches and now also angels, Will and Lyra set off on this new and very dangerous quest.
"Will heard a hideous crack, and didn't stop to wonder about it. Clutching the writing case, he swung himself down the banister, leaping over the man's body that lay twitching and crumpled at the foot of the flight, seized the tattered tote bag from the table, and was out of the front door and away before the other man could do more than come out of the living room and stare."
I enjoyed this book immensely, more so than the first, which I think is how it should be with a sequel. The character of Lyra continues to develop, with the logical and mature Will at her side, whom Lyra admires and looks up to but would never admit. Lyra at first is almost repulsed by this new character as he comes from a world where you can not see a persons daemon, unlike her own dear Pan. But Pullman assures the reader that although we might not be able to see our daemon in this world, we do indeed have one, which is a lovely bit of fantasy for children (and Adults) to wonder what their own daemon might be. Mrs Coulter continues as the cold hearted anti-heroine who you just love to hate and her own daemon is as spiteful and cruel as ever. The other, by now much loved, characters such as Iorek Byrnison and Lee Scorsby are here, woven into the plots lines as the two main characters of Will and Lyra jump from world to world, giving comfortable and familiar territory in a very fast paced and ever changing story. Again, there are real instances of grief in this book and it is by no means all happy ever after, but this makes the story all the richer and more absorbing for it.
This The Subtle Knife book review was written by Amanda White
All reviews for: His Dark Materials
Once Upon A Time In The North
His Dark Materials
When Lyra is studying at Oxford University, she comes across the story of Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnisson's first meeting, many years ago, along with much evidence of ...
His Dark Materials: Book 1
Lyra Belacqua lives half-wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, with her daemon, Pantalaimon, always by her side. But the arrival of her fearsome uncle, Lo...
The Subtle Knife
His Dark Materials: Book 2
Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld – Cittàgazze, where soul-eating Spectres stalk the streets and wingbeats of distant angels sound against...
The Amber Spyglass
His Dark Materials: Book 3
Will is the knife-bearer and his instructions from his father are clear: find Lord Asriel. But Will and Lyra have been separated and Lyra is the sleeping prisoner of Mrs Co...
Have you read The Subtle Knife?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Subtle Knife reader reviews
Allan from Bridgend
A good end to a good series. I must admit I was surprised by the ending! Well worth a read......
Susanna from Isle of Man
Northern Lights was good, this is even better! We have all our favourite characters from the first book and are introduced to new one's as we go along, one of whom is Will. This is a wonderful, fast-paced story that follows on nicely from Northern Lights and sets the scene perfectly for The Amber Spyglass. It's best to read Northern Lights first or else you may find certain things not making sense and this may take away from the enjoyment you get from it.
8.7/10 from 3 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
L Frank Baum
Dorothy Gale and her little dog Toto are in for the ride of their lives when a tornado drops them off in the Land of Oz. Can Dorothy and her new friends survive the perils ...
The Chronicles of Narnia
On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itse...
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
A hot summer’s day on the riverbank, and young Alice is bored. Bored, that is, until a white rabbit in a checked jacket scurries past in a great hurry, examining a po...
Return To Allapatria
Shelley E Parker
Daniel's school holidays are interrupted when, via a ley-line that passes through the goldfish tank in his bedroom, he is transported to a parallel world - in which he ...
Joshua of Gaia: The Lost Elderzamia
Could you leave your world behind to save another? A fading world, an ancient evil and an impossible task for one boy. When Joshua is faced with the choice to fight or hide...
Thrown into a world of magic, myth and dragons, Abigail has discovered her true self and now relishes her new existence as Princess of Nousidia. This life, however, is to b...
Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
Fourteen-year-old Will Burrows lives with his family in London. He has little in common with them except for a passion for digging which he shares with his father. When his...
Eye Of Osiris
Five children from Shipley find a crystal that transports them to a mysterious hallway of magical treasures and doorways to other worlds. All five enter the dark world of O...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through......
Paternus: Rise of Gods
Even myths have legends. And not all legends are myth. When a local hospital is attacked by strange and frightening men, Fiona Patterson and Zeke Prisco save a catatonic old m...
It is for the entities known as Sleepwalkers to cross the doors between dreams, and hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. Theirs is a world of impossible vistas, wher...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her alone. Garbled warnings from bizarre creatures keep her up at night. And there’s a time portal in the keg room of the bar where she works. Soon, Hallie is tumbling through...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...