Book Review – His Dark Materials


Title: His Dark Materials (Nothern Lights, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass)

Author: Philip Pullman

ISBN: 9781841593425

Three Word Description; Magical, Complex, Heartbreaking




Right, what the hell is up with Pullman’s endings?


I was literally like this yesterday when I finished the book (series).

Anyway, this book series was really good. I never read it as a kid (like every book series people grew up with…) but, just like with American Gods, once I heard they’d make a TV-series out of it, I had to read it.

(But, be prepared for some unpopular opinions in this review, especially since I’m reading this without the nostalgia feeling a lot of people have.)

So the first book, Nothern Lights, follows Lyra on her quest to save her best friend and her father. I could definitely see why people love the book, as it has this great ‘adventure feel’ in it, and I’m so mad I didn’t read it when I was younger. The second book, however, felt much different, especially since a new main character arrives and the beginning of a completely new adventure. Unfortunately, with both the second and the third book, I had to drag myself through it quite a lot. It just didn’t grip me and lacked in suspense.

But the world(s) building was amazing, and it was really enjoyable to read and imagine them. An ice-bear kingdom? Sign me up. But also the supporting characters were very memorable and great. When kids are being abducted and the government turns their back on it, the oppressed gyptians are the only ones to act despite their few resources. Good but badass witches, a villainous church and, of course, Mrs. Coulter, probably the most memorable villain of them all. Will, the new main character introduced in book two, was a really good contrast to Lyra’s character and I felt very protective of him haha…

However, I actually found myself a bit annoyed with the main character, Lyra. First because of her immaturity, but she was like 11/12/13 through the books or something, so of course she would be. If she had been, she’d probably wouldn’t be realistic. But the thing that bothered me was that there was a great lack of character development? Like in the second, it was as if some things that happened in the first was completely ignored? Like what her “male-relative” had done was almost completely ignored despite that she should have been really traumatized by that (like me)?? Especially with the answer from her Alethiometer she got about Will. Plus he never has to answer for it ever? Also completely forgetting someone who had been like a true mother to her in the first book, just for the sake of “redeeming” one who had “tried” to be a mother for Lyra despite all her wickedness.  I just felt overall that Lyra could have so much more potential in her character development. It pisses me of when author ignores plot events for the sake of… what, exactly?

So there’s a certain character I hate very much, despite everyone seeming to love him? It’s the male-relative, you’ll know who it is if you’ve read the books. I could never see him as anything but a jerkass and villain, but he never had to answer for what he did?? Also his little romance with Mrs. Coulter is not “goals” you guys.

But I have to give Pullman an applaud for the complex world he created, with so many good messages and unique powers and everything. About the struggle of a power-hungry church, good witches, gay angels and including probably the most exciting thing in science (in my opinion), dark matter. I was actually quite shocked to be honest when the story started developing to a much grander conflict, and I loved that.

The endings of all the books had me like the gif on the top. It’s clear Pullman likes to shock his reader, and now I don’t know what to do. There’s supposed to be a new series coming out this fall (like everything I’m excited about) so I will definitely give it a shot. But I warn you, you won’t ever be ready or okay about any of the endings. Not okay. But I did like a lot of things in the conclusion, especially what the prophecies turned out to be. It was very clever of Pullman.

SO overall I think the book series was good, but it lacked in character development and could drag on at certain points in the books. But the world-building was clever and unique and he did manage to get me very emotional (which I like about a book). I’d recommend it, but I think I actually would have enjoyed it more if I had been a bit younger.




12 thoughts on “Book Review – His Dark Materials

      1. Oh I haven’t actually started them yet. They’re on my TBR shelf, and I’m planning on marathoning them next month. I hope I enjoy them as an adult reading it for the first time, but truth be told, the kid in me usually enjoys the more child-like books, so I’m staying positive about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Loved your review 🙂
    But the trilogy is definitely not for everyone! It explores many controversial themes and a lot of people will be offended by it.
    Not to mention, it can also get a bit confusing at times and the characters are definitely morally gray.
    That said, it remains one of my favorites of all time. I might have to agree with you that I was younger when I read it, so not sure how it would fair now. I still think it would have been really good, either way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s always the troubles with books that takes a clear stand on controversial subject, but I respect and admire author’s when they dare to do it, risking hate (of course I wouldn’t admire an author’s who’s views were ‘medieval’ so to say). I do mostly really like morally gray characters, but for some in these books were just hard to understand because of lack of proper back story or so. But some also were great characters, either heroes or villains.
      This series will no doubt stay with me, it may not be my favorite but it shure made an impression on me (and made me very emotional 😂)


  2. Great review! It was really interesting to hear your thoughts on the books as an adult. I also read them for the first time as an adult, as part of a university class actually (Children’s Literature!) but I can’t remember what I thought at the time, other than that I mostly liked them. I’ll have do do a re-read before the new series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I’m actually pretty excited about the upcoming series! Oh I want to study Children’s Literature, it seems so interesting and I love “kids” books. Have you any favorites? Have you read any Astrid Lindgren? Brothers Lionheart (I think the english name is ) will always remain one of my all-time favorite and my favorite I listened to as a child with casette. H.C. Andersen is also magical and I love his stories. Read the Snow Queen and some other stories and loved them, and want to read The Little Mermaid (I know the original story, it’s 100000% better than the disney version which made my mum cry because it was so bad 😂)


      1. There were some really interesting book choices in the course. I think we even read the first Harry Potter book!

        The Pippi Longstocking books were definitely favourites of mine as a child, I don’t think I’ve ever read Brothers Lionheart though, so I’ll have to look that up! I haven’t read that many of the original fairy tale stories either, but I’d like to at some point. Haha they’re certainly different from the disney movies!

        Like most Canadian girls, I loved the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. For fantasy I’m a big fan of Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles that have a basis in Welsh mythology, and Patricia C. Wrede’s Dealing With Dragons series about an unconventional princess.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow I don’t know a lot about those books, but they soudn great 😀 Ah mythology is great, I’m most familiar with Norse as we learn it in school (I’m swedish), we even had math books where each new chapter contained a story :’) But I love to read about different myths and gods from around the world.
        I really want to study Children’s literature, like, now. (Brothers Lionheart is pretty dark and deep for Children’s literature, as it discusses subjects such as death, oppression etc. but it’s very popular because kids actually have more understanding of such things than adults give them credit for)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I would have enjoyed math a lot more in school if the chapters contained stories! I know a little bit of Norse mythology and would like to read more of it. I’m most familiar with Greek though. I had the D’aulaires book of greek myths as a kid and the book is literally falling apart I read the stories so often!

    I think children’s literature would be a great subject to study! I just did the one course as part of an English major in University. I really enjoyed all the literature genre classes I got to take – detective fiction and of course sci-fi & fantasy were really fun too! I will definitely look up Brothers Lionheart and give it a read!

    Liked by 1 person

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