Philip Pullman brings The Amber Spyglass to the spellbinding "His Dark Materials" sequence, which dazzles everyone who reads it, children and adults alike. After the original Northern Lights, he kept up the quality in The Subtle Knife, the second title in the trilogy. Now he brings the series to an extraordinary conclusion. Will and Lyra, the two children at the heart of the books, have become separated amidst great dangers. Can they find each other, and their friends? Then complete their mysterious quest before it's too late? The great rebellion against the dark powers that hold Lyra's world, and many others, in thrall is nearing its climax. She and Will have crucial parts to play, but they don't know what it is that they must do, and terrible powers are hunting them down.
The pace of the book is compelling, the writing powerful. Pullman's plotting is intricate and cunning, surprising the reader again and again. Perhaps what is most striking of all, however, is the depth of the characterisation. Lord Asriel, Mrs Coulter, Iorek Byrnison the king of the armoured bears, a host of minor characters, most of all Will and Lyra themselves: the book is a library of beautifully drawn, remarkably convincing characters walking in worlds of marvels.
In this volume the cosmic dimensions of the story become more prominent, as a great conflict across many universes comes to a head--how well the narrative sustains such immensely weighty resonances is a question critics may well disagree on. The author's beliefs also come more into the open, and with them a polemic anti-religious theme that will please some readers and alienate others.
Philip Pullman's writing commands immense respect; more than that, it is raising the profile of the best children's books among adults, as demanding critics of all ages fall in love with this remarkable trilogy. --David Pickering