Re-Reading My Childhood: The Subtle Knife.

Back in July, as part of my Sword and Laser reading challenge, I read Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. It had been quite a while since I read the entire His Dark Materials trilogy and I decided in July to complete the trilogy. This trilogy was one of the first fantasy series that completed as a child/almost teenager and so today, I thought I would share my thoughts on re-reading the second book in the trilogy, The Subtle Knife and talk about it compared to my memories of it.

The Subtle Knife picks up the story shortly after the events of Northern Lights but it doesn’t just follow Lyra, but a young boy from our world, Will, whose paths cross with Lyra as she tries to uncover her destiny. Together, they will explore a new world and encounter enemies and allies, new and old.

I’ll be honest, I remember not enjoying The Subtle Knife as much as the other two books in the trilogy and after re-reading it, I still feel the same way. I think its because The Subtle Knife has that ‘second-book-in-the-trilogy’ feeling where it is trying to resolve the events of the first book, whilst setting up the events for the final book; which leaves The Subtle Knife no opportunity to create its own meaningful crisis points.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy my time with the book,- it is still a solid novel. I particularly enjoyed Lee Scoresby’s story and I wished we spent more time with him, rather than Lyra and WIll. I also enjoyed the traversing between worlds and wished we spent a little more time exploring Cittagazze, but I also understand that some of the mystery of it is explained in the final book, The Amber Spyglass.

Overall, it seems my memories of The Subtle Knife were accurate- it is a good book but when compared to the other two novels in the His Dark Materials trilogy, it isn’t the best. I understand that it was setting up the events for the finale but I wished there was a little more plot in the book. Still, I did enjoy my time with it and would recommend it and the trilogy to people.

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