The Subtle Knife

Please note that this review may contain spoilers for Northern Lights. You can read my review of this novel [here].

The Subtle Knife was written by Philip Pullman and first published in 1997. It forms the second part of the epic His Dark Materials trilogy, preceded by Northern Lights (published in America as The Golden Compass – 1995) and followed by The Amber Spyglass (2000). The novel picks up shortly after Northern Lights left off and so you really need to read the novels in sequence to fully appreciate them.

Will Parry has always believed that his mother’s paranoia was some sort of sickness, yet everything changes when two sinister men show up at his house and begin to pester her for information on his missing father. Their harassment only serves to make his mother worse and, when the men eventually break into his home, Will accidentally kills one of them in a struggle.

Knowing that he will soon be hunted by the police, or worse, Will escapes into the night with a briefcase full of his father’s letters. On the outskirts of Oxford, he accidentally discovers a window to another world – the oddly deserted city of Cittàgazze – and it is here that he first meets Lyra Silvertongue and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, and learns about their escape from their world.

As Lyra and Will get to know each other and explore the Cittàgazze, they come to learn of the existence of a device that can be used to cut holes between worlds. However, little do they know that their discovery is linked to a greater war. Far away, unknown to them, Lyra’s allies search for her. They know that Lord Asriel is building an army and has plans to defeat the Magisterium by slaying the Authority that they worship. Although the angels failed in this task decades ago, the witches fear that this time he will succeed and their prophecies tell that Lyra will somehow be instrumental in his victory…

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