The Secret Commonwealth – a reivew

If you’d like to know just how far behind on reviews I am… I read this book in December 2020. Right look. There were other reviews that needed to come first, some specific review copies and some War and Peace ones (which I’m also behind on, look, shut up). But I’m here now. And this was a helluva book. I’d put off reading this for quite a while as it’s a big book, but the lovely Eleanor had read it and posted a video review that I really wanted to watch so I sat my arse down and read this. And wow. What a book. Such a mixture of both good and bad! I’m not the biggest tabber or note maker whilst I read, but I made so many notes through the whole of this!

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Despite all of these notes that I made, I won’t be talking much about them here. They’re all quite spoiler heavy and I don’t want to risk ruining the book for someone who hasn’t picked it up yet. I will say that this book, opposite to La Belle Sauvage, is set after the events of His Dark Materials. We once again are following Lyra, now in her early 20s, as she navigates the world and her relationship to it. We see how her and Pan’s relationship has changed since the… incident in the main series (I’m tryna keep things spoiler free here!) and the struggles that they go through.

I did think that Lyra was quite childish for someone in her early 20s. Whenever she’s arguing with Pan her points are just so silly and juvenile, and as someone who is in her early 20s herself, it just feels a little bit young for the age range Pullman is aiming for. Contrary to this, there’s a relationship that feels a little too adult and I don’t quite know how I feel about it just now. I don’t want to say anything more specific than that, cause again spoilers. But it is something that just didn’t sit quite right with me and I’m going to have to see how things develop in book three before I make my final decision.

As just a general summary, this book was an interesting middle book with lots of plot development in order to bring us up to speed for the third book but also some confusing aspects such as the seeming abandonment of previous events and a few questionable choices. Overall though I did enjoy the book and I’m looking forward to reading book three, especially after that cliffhanger that we were left on at the end!!

Highlight here to see trigger warnings: attempted rape, murder, police violence, rape mention, racism, religious fundamentalism, sexism, sexual assault, stalking, suppression of free speech, violence, xenophobia

Have you read this book? Or any of the other books from the Book of Dust or His Dark Materials trilogies? Let me know what you thought of them and whether you’re going to be picking up book three!

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1)

Being plunged headfirst back into this world was so much fun! I absolutely loved His Dark Materials and really missed the world so as soon as I found out about this book I knew I needed to pre-order it.

We get to learn a lot more about the general background of this world with some really good additional details which are woven very well into the fabric of the story. The alethiometer is featured more in this story, giving us some more of its background and also some more of Lyra’s background before she grows up into the spunky and mischievous child we love from the main trilogy.

I absolutely loved Malcolm, his dedication to doing what’s right, and his constant fighting to look after Lyra. I originally didn’t like Alice, but I came to love her over time and she turned out to be an amazing young girl. I’m really hoping that these two, along with Hannah Relf, are going to be featured in the next book in the trilogy as I’d like to get to know them better. This next book is going to be set 20 years into the future, so this book definitely contains a lot of exposition and information dumpage. Despite that, the book was so incredibly enjoyable and something that all those who loved His Dark Materials will enjoy and should pick up!