Review of La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust # 1 – Phillip Pullman

Posted: February 6, 2018 in fantasy, Review

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…
Malcolm’s father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make chocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

Random House Children’s Publisher UK

 Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

This is the backstory of Lyra Belacqua, also known as Lyra Silvertongue, the heroine of Philip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials trilogy. This is the first volume of her story. As a baby she is introduced as being left with the nuns near Oxford. When a major flood threatens the south of England, she is rescued by the book’s protagonist, eleven-year old, Malcolm Polstead and his friend Alice. They have to make their way to safety pursued by the villainous Bonneville and Consistorial Court of Discipline, who want Lyra. This is all to do with the Dust, which Lord Asriel studies and which seems to be a significant component of matter in the idea of entwinned matter and spirit. Spirit being represented by the daemons animal spirit creatures everyone has.  What do you do with a baby who is destined to be the 0catalyst to change the way the world works? With no one they can trust they have to find Lord Asriel, Lyra’s father, so they can take Lyra to Jordan College Oxford and Lord Asriel can ask for Scholastic Sanctuary for the child.

A must-read for fantasy fans both young and old.


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