Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review - La Belle Sauvage - Phillip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well that was disappointing. I loved the His Dark Materials books and their combination of imagination, action and big ideas and I looked forward to diving into Pullman's world again with the first in a prequel trilogy.

The story of La Belle Sauvage starts promisingly enough. Lyra is a baby and has been ordered into the protection of a nunnery near Oxford. Malcolm is a likable and plucky boy who works and lives with his parents at a nearby pub and often visits the nuns. The arrival of Lord Asriel to see his daughter draws Malcolm into a battle that is raging around the baby between the Magisterium and a secret network of spies called Oakley Street.

The witches in the north have a prophecy about the baby and others want to do her harm. During a violent storm and subsequent flood, Malcolm flees with the baby and Nancy, a serving girl, in his boat La Belle Sauvage across a drowned land.

The rest of the book - 50% of the text - centres on a series of adventures the three have, which become quite repetitive and have little to no bearing on the central plot. After a few chapters of this it begins to feel like incident for incident's sake. Filler. The central plot is also vague. There's talk of Dust and certain scientific research, but because Malcolm and Nancy are not part of the Magisterium or Oakley Street, their knowledge (and ours) is limited.

The whole series of events (it's not a plot really) peters to a predictable end with the promise that something interesting or really exciting might happen in the next book. I don't think I can be bothered.

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