The Subtle Knife, the second book of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, was so tense and thrilling that I only took a day to finish it, even though it was slightly longer then The Golden Compass.
TSK continues the complex plot by taking us back to a world very familiar to us, our own world. There we meet Will, a daring boy who meets Lyra while running from some strange men into the world that she enters at the end of TGC book. The world, Cittagazze, that they meet is riddled with evil soul-eating Specters, but they are safe for the moment since it only attacks adults. The mysteries surrounding Dust are exemplified in this book as the scientific meets the spiritual and religious. As the different parts of the purpose for Lyra and Will begin to shape itself, there is intrigue and surprises in store. Indeed, Pullman sets the story up well where the characters still surprise you and it leaves you unsure as to what will happen in the end. You know that certain choices will have to be made by certain characters, but it is impossible to know what choice they will make. And it's even unclear what the right choice will be for them to make.
By the end of the book, sacrifices are made and the many worlds are all at the brink of war. It was impossible for me to not start the last book of the series immediately after finishing TSK, and it's been hard for me to put it down. This series is epic and intelligent, challenging us in the way we see religion, science, life and love. It is a smart book, carefully and brilliantly plotted and well written. The characters are complex, believable and compelling and although sometimes Pullman has a knack for being over-descriptive in setting up the scene (which I suppose can be important for the many different worlds we encounter in the book since the scenes are so unfamiliar to us - I'm just impatient and want to get to the plot and to what happens next) the book moves quickly and had me tense and on the edge of my seat throughout it all.
The last review for the third and final book of the series may indeed come to you tomorrow at the rate I'm going.
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