Book Review: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

July 31, 2013 Review 2 ★★★★

Book Review: The Amber Spyglass by Philip PullmanThe Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials #3
Published by Laurel Leaf on 2003 September 9
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 467
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

In the astonishing finale to the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra and Will are in unspeakable danger. With help from Iorek Byrnison the armored bear and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a dank and gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone. All the while, Dr. Mary Malone builds a magnificent Amber Spyglass. An assassin hunts her down, and Lord Asriel, with a troop of shining angels, fights his mighty rebellion, in a battle of strange allies—and shocking sacrifice.

As war rages and Dust drains from the sky, the fate of the living—and the dead—finally comes to depend on two children and the simple truth of one simple story.

Yay. After days of poring over this series, I think the book fairy has finally let my soul found some peace. And what’s more beautiful is that, I can truly announce that this book is one of the most memorable must-read series for 2013. Yes, bookish addicts. After a year of hating this series, I’ve found myself falling inlove with it. How did that freakin’ happen? Find out!

The Amber Spyglass started days after where the second book left off. Will, who was separated from Lyra, was sought by two rebel angels who pledged their help to look for the latter in exchange for his help to Lord Asriel’s cause. Meanwhile, Lyra was put into an (almost) endless slumber by Mrs. Coulter for reasons that only her wickedness can answer. And this is where the fun had started since it wasn’t only Will who was looking for her but also Lord Asriel’s forces, the Magisterium (Church) and the Authority’s arsenal of angels headed by Metatron. In this battle of tactics and race against time, Philip Pullman allures us once again into a kaleidoscope of worlds where everything is overwhelmingly possible. The convergence of Pullman’s different worlds made a great setting for this story of such magnitude to unfold wonderfully and yet, it was sensible and compelling.

Interwoven with this setting was a story of two ordinary children whose lives will dictate the undoing or the continuance of the very pillars of humanity. The Amber Spyglass does not only talk about war to gain power over the worlds but it delves into the realm of metaphysics, a journey to search the truth about God, His existence and whether He solely created the world. Then it followed the first downfall of man when Eve took to the temptation of the serpent but in exchange for consciousness her descendants. Next, there was the mystery of death, does the paradise of heaven really existed or departed souls just go into an inescapable prison of void? Amidst all these, there was the subject of growing up, of being conscious of the world, of the surroundings, of the people around you, of yourself and of other discoveries; and whether being conscious should be suppressed or one should break free from the dictates of the Church? The Amber Spyglass is a story that puts our faith into another perspective and our religious beliefs into a series of questions. All these told through a fantastical journey of an epic battle brought about by armored bears, Gallivespians, witch clans, rebel angels, the forces of the Church, Spectres, Souls of the dead and ordinary people… all fighting to either destroy or save God and His Kingdom of Heaven.

To determine the outcome of that battle, Lyra, who had been prophesized as the reincarnation of Eve, must undertake the test—the one that had been the downfall of the Mother of All—in the form of Will Parry. And this is the part where I cried because I couldn’t bear the pain of seeing Lyra and Will deciding that they must part ways in order to create the Republic of Heaven. It was bittersweet because you can feel in your heart how they love each other and yet, they must set aside their feelings for the salvation of the world. Lyra succeeds in fighting the temptation at the cost of losing Will but it meant that consciousness or Dust will be saved. I take my hat off for these two heroic souls who had shown outstanding maturity and bravery despite their ages.

Furthermore, aside from the central plot, there were other bits and pieces that I loved about this book. First, the corruption and brutality of the Church was a controversial one and it did make me wonder whether Philip was trying to tell us something about the real Church? Second, Philip’s portrayal of the world of the dead really intrigued me because being a believer; it did open my mind to a lot of possibilities. And lastly, Mrs. Coulter’s and Asriel’s deed of bravery was just so unexpected that I was quite speechless. The power of redemptive love is just way tooo amazing.

I would have given this book a five if only:

  • Philip did not give lengthy descriptions about this and that. There were times that a page seemed to drag like forever.
  • The Amber Spyglass, for me, was not an apt title for the book since it didn’t really play a significant role as compared to the subtle knife or the alethiometer.
  • Philip failed to put a dramatic bit about Lyra’s feelings towards her parents’ death. I think that was a loose end because the book shouldn’t have ended without Lyra knowing the sacrifices her parents had made and whether she mourned or forgave them afterwards.
  • Philip took an effort to have the other significant characters play a more important role rather than appearing at the end of the book to fetch Lyra and Will. I am referring to the gyptians of course. The way they were mentioned in the book was like their presence was just inserted in an attempt to make us remember that they’re still alive and kicking. It wasn’t so subtle.
  • Philip found a way to give Lyra and Will the smallest chance of a happily ever after… like being together once in a while.

In an overall note, the Amber Spyglass is an enticing read that will challenge your faith and at the same time teaching a thing or two about the struggles of growing up. A must read for all fantasy lovers out there who wanted to explore an unrivaled story of fiction woven with realistic elements.

2 Responses to “Book Review: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman”

  1. anaherareads

    Ah, this series. I admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of the last book mainly because of the dragging story and Lyra herself. 🙁 But still, I did enjoy reading the whole thing. Great to hear you've managed to complete the series. Congrats! 😀

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