A glimpse of Lyra after the trilogy {Lyra's Oxford by @PhilipPullman}



A glimpse of Lyra, and a promise of things to come.

Back blurb of Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman
Lyra's Oxford opens two years after the conclusion of Philip Pullman Amber Spyglass in the comfort and familiarity of Jordan College.

Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, sit on the sun-drenched roof looking out over all of Oxford, but their peace is shattered when a strange bird - a witch's dæmon, on its own - tumbles out of the sky, in search of a healing elixir to cure his witch of a strange new disease. Lyra and Pan decide to help - witches are friends, of course - but the closer their winding walk leads them toward the infamous Oxford alchemist, the stronger Lyra's sense that something is amiss.

My two cents

Forgive me if I'm reviewing a supplementary book and this will likely only resonate with readers and fans of the His Dark Materials Trilogy. This trilogy is one of my all-time favourite fantasy books and unfortunately remains unreviewed for the same reason that I would find reviewing Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings maybe a little ... sacreligious.


As a quick background, the trilogy consists of The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. It is about a young orphaned girl called Lyra Belacqua who travels through parallel universes -- universes that include witches, people who have dæmons (kind of like your soul in animal form), politics of an almost theological flavour which spur on historic wars. Maybe you've heard of the movie The Golden Compass, which captures some of the grandeur of the books (but I realized early in the movie -- with a sinking heart --that fails to stick the storyline in the books).

This particular book is a little glimpse of Lyra's life back in Jordon College, set in a parallel universe that sounds eerily of London, following the conclusion of the third book The Amber Spyglass. The story is extremely simple that it makes me wonder why it was even presented as a separate book! It is basically Lyra's run-in with enemies that she unwittingly made as a result of her actions in the trilogy (you see, no spoilers).

This is so obviously a reminder for fans that the trilogy is not over. It whets the appetite for a reread of the trilogy ... and for the magically detailed universes that Lyra move in. Since it was early 2000 when I encountered this series, I am just reacquainting myself, quite by serendipity when I bought this book in the thrift store. While looking up this book for this review, I was a little surprised to learn that there is actually a fourth book in the making since 2005! Called The Book of Dust, and apparently not part of the trilogy but a companion book, it is supposed to be released in 2016.

Pullman's huge draw with this series is his amazing world building where alternate universes become so detailed that you can almost imagine them to be real. I can only liken the series to the complex worlds built by Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings. One little perk of this slim book -- you can probably see why I can't resist any of Pullman's work -- is this fold out map of Oxford. Tracing Lyra's paths, it makes an imaginary world feel so much more tangible and is only a taste of what lies for any reader daring to pick up these books. I hope you're one of them!

You can travel Oxford by train, river and zeppelin ... how else!?
Am always impressed with the artwork in Pullman's books, many of which he illustrates himself.

Verdict

I liken reading this book to meeting an old, dear childhood friend on the street: it's like nothing has changed, but everything has. But it doesn't stop me from getting nostalgic. And while one can't relive the past, I can certainly reread the trilogy again ... a treat I relish! I am also anticipating the release of Pullman's The Book of Dust!

Do you have any books that remind you of dear friends?




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