La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage

Eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, live with his parents at the Trout Inn near Oxford. Across the River Thames (which Malcolm navigates often using his beloved canoe, a boat by the name of La Belle Sauvage) is the Godstow Priory where the nuns live. Malcolm learns they have a guest with them, a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua . . ....

Title:La Belle Sauvage
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Edition Language:English

La Belle Sauvage Reviews

  • ☙ percy ❧

    objectively speaking, if you divorce it from HDM, it's probably a 5 star. however, considering how utterly superb HDM is, and considering this a prequel, giving it the same score would imply that i found them to be on a par, or at least nearly so. and i did not.

    i liked it a lot, but it just wasn't, y'know,

    typically good pullman-esque character building though, and i am very excited to see where the story goes next.

  • mark monday

    WHAT?! this is real? oh my God, oh my God! which is an ironic exclamation regarding a book by Philip Pullman.

    I had no idea this was in the works. ::happy sigh::

  • Emily May

    It's hard to believe, but I was ten years old when I first read Pullman's

    trilogy. Along with

    , it is one of the standout reads of my childhood and, perhaps, my entire life. So, obviously, when I heard about

    , I simply

    to bury my skepticism and read it.

    And I think this book digs up the past pretty well. I’ve had mixed feelings about

    It's hard to believe, but I was ten years old when I first read Pullman's

    trilogy. Along with

    , it is one of the standout reads of my childhood and, perhaps, my entire life. So, obviously, when I heard about

    , I simply

    to bury my skepticism and read it.

    And I think this book digs up the past pretty well. I’ve had mixed feelings about this trend of revisiting old series and retelling everything from classic fairy tales to

    . When the publishers dug down to the 1950s and pulled out

    , when Stephen King published a sequel to

    almost 40 years after the original, every time Stephenie Meyer and E.L.James tell the same story from yet another point of view… I am reminded that we live in a world where marketability is far more powerful than just

    . Why work on building a new brand and creating a new audience when there is already one right there for you?

    That being said, I think

    does it right. Pullman captures the feel of the original trilogy but, at least so far, I don't feel like you need to read

    to understand this book (though, why wouldn't you? ^_^). However,

    . This book is clearly called "Volume 1" for a good reason, as it reads like the first section of a full novel, not as a standalone.

    Here we are taken back in time to when Lyra was a baby. We meet her parents and her spirited dæmon, Pantalaimon, through the eyes of the curious and adventurous, Malcolm Polstead, who finds himself forced to protect infant Lyra from the many threats she faces. Floods, disgusting villains, and scathing critiques of organized religion abound!

    But I should advise that it is

    . Though tantalising tidbits of magic and secrets are hinted at throughout the book, the action doesn’t really get going until over halfway through. To me, though, this is classic Pullman, and I wasn't bored for a second.

    climbs, slowly at first and then faster, towards a dark and brutal climax. Readers may wish to be aware of a potentially triggering

    .

    I can't deny that it was an absolute pleasure to find myself once more in this world of dæmons, alethiometers and mystery. Only time and further volumes will tell if this trilogy really needed to be reopened, but I'm definitely coming along for the ride.

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  • Kai

    For everyone who hasn't yet heard the news and is desperate to dive back into Lyra's Oxford: this trilogy is going to be a thing.

  • Prema Arasu

    Dear Mr. Pullman,

    Please never publish this book as I am writing a thesis on His Dark Materials and the addition of information to the canon will probably invalidate all of it.

    Thanks bro

    P. Arasu

  • Simona Bartolotta

    29/05/2017: TITLE TITLE TITLE. IT IS SO LOVELY. AND THERE IS A BLURB TOO!

    15/02/2017: This comes out in October -do you know what that means? It means that Simona is going to re-read all three books of

    before then! Yay!

  • Dannii Elle

    A companion trilogy to

    series!

  • Bookdragon Sean

    Phillip Pullman is clearly capable of great things. He achieves an absolute mastery of tone, style and plot in

    However, I found none of that mastery in this book.

    Admittedly, I had major reservations going into it; yet, for all that, I did approach it with an open mind. I tried to appreciate it for what it was, though sadly that really isn’t much to get excited about. The writing is average, the plot slow and the new characters rather bland and ordinary.

    For me, the biggest pr

    Phillip Pullman is clearly capable of great things. He achieves an absolute mastery of tone, style and plot in

    However, I found none of that mastery in this book.

    Admittedly, I had major reservations going into it; yet, for all that, I did approach it with an open mind. I tried to appreciate it for what it was, though sadly that really isn’t much to get excited about. The writing is average, the plot slow and the new characters rather bland and ordinary.

    For me, the biggest problem this book has is its lack of autonomy. The most exciting episodes of the plot were when characters from

    were mentioned or even appeared in the flesh. Granted, this is a companion trilogy and, certainly, this was clearly meant to be read with the other trilogy in mind, but it still needs enough strength to stand on its own to an extent. And sadly it just doesn’t possess that strength. The plot was exceedingly underdeveloped in the first half and the second half only served to usher Lyra’s arrival in Oxford.

    The new characters Pullman has written aren’t exactly remarkable or interesting. Malcolm, the protagonist, is a very typical leading man with his heroic traits and natural intelligence that has yet to find a proper channel. All in all, he’s a pretty standard person whose only real passion seems to be his boat named

    His friend, and possible love interest, Alice is angry with Malcolm because he doesn’t notice her. She kicks him, shouts at him and wishes for his attention. Her feelings were firmly established early on yet were majorly underworked through the rest of the novel.

    In terms of narrative progression, I feel like the story barely moved forward. Again, for the first half it stayed in the same place with Malcom running errands, spying on people, checking on a six month old Lyra and reading a few books. In the second half he spent most of it on a boat arguing with Alice and looking for Lord Asriel. It lacked a certain sense of purpose and urgency. I never felt like the important characters were really in danger, obviously because we know where they’re going to end up from reading the previous trilogy.

    Whist this book is far from being dreadful, it is completely unengaging. There’s so much in

    worthy of literary criticism, but absolutely nothing here. I have no reason to actually read the rest of the series. At this point I have to ask myself the essential question: why did he even write this?

  • Brierly

    We return into the world of Lyra Belacqua and

    with

    , a companion triology that begins with

    , taking place during Lyra's infancy. As with the original trilogy,

    shines when it comes to world-building and classical adaptation. Anyone who has started

    will be drawn in by daemons, animal-like creatures that represent your soul. Your daemon shape-shifts throughout your childhood before settling into one form, a lifel

    We return into the world of Lyra Belacqua and

    with

    , a companion triology that begins with

    , taking place during Lyra's infancy. As with the original trilogy,

    shines when it comes to world-building and classical adaptation. Anyone who has started

    will be drawn in by daemons, animal-like creatures that represent your soul. Your daemon shape-shifts throughout your childhood before settling into one form, a lifelong companion that comforts and protects you. And as

    rewrites

    ; so does

    and

    .

    I had a unique reading experience with this one... I felt like I was rushing through it, desperate on unraveling its mysteries. But the beauty is in the details. From the beginning, Lyra remains the protagonist, despite the POV from Malcolm. All events pivot around Lyra and her infancy with Pantalimon is truly wonderful. If you have ever wondered about birth, death, and daemonology,

    will answer some of your questions. Ultimately, though, I still do not like the way Pullman writes youth romantic relationships. He writes well when discussing an individual child but when he starts talking about young love, whether in this book or in

    , it doesn't sit right. Take it from someone married to her high school sweetheart.

    So what happens in the narrative? Spoilers aside, we know Lyra spends her youth under scholastic sanctuary at Jordan College, Oxford. She's a highly coveted child that will fulfill a heretical prophecy, so numerous organizations want her dead or in captivity. So that's where she is headed... Pullman faces the impossible prequel task of writing towards a set ending. Therefore, since most of the book follows a heist-novel pacing (in which infant Lyra is the grand prize), the suspense is diluted because child Lyra will be safe from imminent harm. But as the next two novels in the trilogy are set post-

    , I sense that

    exists primarily as exposition. You discover more about Dust and alethiometers, as well as the Magisterium. And

    picks up when Lyra is 20 and an undergraduate... how exciting! Malcolm (and Alice) clearly care deeply for Lyra, so I hope they can continue to influence her life in a positive manner. Final note: I am also reading now that Malcolm is featured in

    which I plan to read before the next release.

  • Trish

    I'm usually weary of prequels of any kind. It often sounds like a movie company, author or whoever wants to cash in on past successes. In case of Philip Pullman, I was a bit more optimistic - especially after reading

    only last month (I had only known the very first book up to that point). Also, Pullman was indeed asked if this was a prequel, to which he gave the perfect answer, calling it an "eque

    I'm usually weary of prequels of any kind. It often sounds like a movie company, author or whoever wants to cash in on past successes. In case of Philip Pullman, I was a bit more optimistic - especially after reading

    only last month (I had only known the very first book up to that point). Also, Pullman was indeed asked if this was a prequel, to which he gave the perfect answer, calling it an "equel". Besides, I was curious where he would take us readers as it was known in advance that we'd meet baby Lyra and a few well-known characters alongside a host of new ones here. And we did.

    La Belle Sauvage is the name of a canoe that belongs to 11-year-old Malcolm who lives with his parents. They have an inn near Oxford and it is there (as well as at a priory where Malcolm helps the nuns) that he hears strange rumours and makes a discovery that will change his life forever.

    He is sucked into a whirlwind of intrigue and religious oppression, becoming a little spy even. And he is shown an alethiometer.

    At some point, he and a girl named Alice, who works at the inn, have to save baby Lyra from the forces converging around her exactly at the moment a huge flood sets in.

    The rest of the book is a wonderfully strange quest through a half-drowned world to get away from the bad guys and save innocent little Lyra and her daemon (which is a quest to save every inquisitve mind that advocates free speech and a free spirit).

    It was very gratifying to read about

    .

    Pullman even

    .

    What is once again so remarkable (apart from the wonderful daemons) is Pullman's ability to weave in so many ideas and social/political criticisms into the narrative without it ever getting boring or preachy. The League of Alexander as a nod to the Red Scares in the US and the SS/Stasi in Germany, respectively, but also the trademark criticism of religious institutions and their despotic and totalitarian way of stifling speculation and enquiry are just two examples of this author's mastery.

    I was very glad to have recognized Malcolm almost at once from the later books and was so pleased about how he was portrayed and put in the spotlight here (

    ). Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances rising to the challenge to do the right things even if it is dangerous and hard.

    As the other three books, this too gets metaphysical but never so much that the reader (no matter the age) can't follow. In fact, Pullman always makes sure to balance the science aspect with folklore (in this case the king's roads and fae realm especially).

    By the way, as

    was a nod to Milton, so this new trilogy apparently is a nod to Spenser’s

    which is even quoted in the end. Or maybe it's just this first book, I'm not sure yet, because the second one will make a huge time jump to 10 years after Lyra comes back from the Arctic at the end of the previous trilogy (this second installment is already finished and is scheduled to be published in about a year). I can't wait to see where Pullman is taking us next because one thing is for sure: he never does not have anything to say!

    P.S.: This version is the signed hardcopy but I did also listen to the wonderful Michael Sheen narrating the audiobook and was enchanted.


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