Sometimes I think that Philip Pullman has highly classified information regarding the inner-workings of the Universe, and he grants us little glimpses of the truth through his novels. Not only does Pullman perfectly depict the flawed and complex human condition, but he does so without diminishing the value of Humanism.
If you are a fan of the His Dark Materials series and its companion works, you will ADORE The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage.
This story takes place shortly after the birth of Lyra Belacqua.
Having been born to an apathetically cruel mother and a father who has been forbidden to see his child, Lyra is sent to be cared for by the Sisters at a Priory in Oxford. Though she is just a baby, Lyra is at the center of many political and ideological schemes. The Witches of the North have mentioned Lyra in one of their prophecies, causing The Magisterium to want full control over the child. Although she is guarded well by the Sisters, Lyra is far from safe.
Directly across the bridge from the Priory, there is an inn called The Trout. The Innkeeper's son is an eleven-year-old boy named Malcolm Polstead. (This is the same Polstead we meet in the short novel Lyra's Oxford.) Malcolm has a mechanic's mind and a philosopher's spirit. He is a bright boy who is eager to learn all he can. He meets Lyra on one of the days when he helps out the nuns, and he is immediately smitten with the sweet baby and her tiny daemon.
As an Innkeeper's boy, Malcolm sees and hears all that goes on in the community. He is also a very intuitive child. When the Alethiometer leads an anti-Magisterium spy network to Malcolm's doorstep, it is a natural fit that he begins to work for them. Malcolm is especially pleased by this because he believes this group cares deeply for the safety and well-being of Lyra.
As all the scheming parties draw nearer to Lyra, it becomes clear to Malcolm that he will have to be her protector. As with all questing novels, Malcolm has both dear friends and savage enemies along the way. He has to face natural disasters, unexplained magical phenomena, truly evil adult intentions, and take care of an infant through it all. With the help of a servant-girl named Alice, Malcolm must get Lyra to safety before she winds up in the wrong hands.
A thrilling first installment to a new series in the His Dark Materials Multiverse! I cannot wait for more!
5 out of 5 Stars
Review by Mrs. Sanborn
Jaime Sanborn's Book Reviews by Jaime Ann Sanborn, MLIS, SLMS is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://jfsanborn.blogspot.com.