Good things do come in small packages.
Once Upon A Time In The North is another episode from the universe of His Dark Material including the very first meeting of Lee Scoresby, the Texan balloonist, and Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear. Once Upon A Time In The North is set many years before Lyra's birth, a young Lee Scoresby pilots his recently won (in a poker game) balloon to the Arctic where he gets involved in a deadly confrontation between the government, an oil baron, a crooked politician, a ship's captain, and a hired killer from Lee's past.
As with Philip Pullman’s other books there are fantasy elements integral to the story but they are included so subtly that you may not even notice. The book opened marvellously with Scoresby crash landing on Navy Odense, I thought that the way he handled this mishap made him an instantly likeable character, Hestar, his daemon only added further to the charm of the book and the characters.
The book itself is just shy of one hundred pages. The presentation is faultless, the size, the illustrations, the board game and of course the story itself are all of the highest quality. This really is a book to treasure. Anybody can enjoy this book, not just fans of the His Dark Materials trilogy. For those of whom Once Upon A Time is their first encounter with Philip Pullman and his work - you will be going out and purchasing the trilogy as soon as you have finished this short story.
Review by Floresiensis
Flynn from UK
9.3/10 from 2 reviews