What can I say? I love Philip Pullman; for his fantastic literature, his unique perspectives on creativity and his outspoken views. While sometimes I don't always agree with everything he says, it is his commitment to his craft that is just wonderfully inspiring. He is the equal of Alan Garner, Susan Cooper and CS Lewis (even if Pullman himself despairs of Lewis' fiction).

'La Belle Sauvage' is the first in Pullman's new trilogy 'The Book of Dust'. This volume is set before the events of His Dark Materials when Lyra is just a baby being cared for at a nunnery. Across the river from this there is a young boy called Malcolm, who soon gets embroiled in events around Lyra that result in a fantastic journey both mythic and dangerous in equal measure.

I loved 'La Belle Sauvage' more than any of His Dark Materials books. I'm not entirely sure why. There is a crispness, a bite to the prose in this one. Pullman often compares writing to filing down wood. And in this book I feel he has honed a perfectly polished one. Perhaps it was his experience writing Grimms' Fairy-tales that has ensured his writing stays tight, pacey and vivid. Compared to, say, 'The Amber Spyglass', which I found a bit overloaded, 'La Belle Sauvage' is crafted beautifully, matching the wonderful cover illustrations, and illustrations in the recent paperback. In Malcolm the story has an instantly likable character; a different kind of boy. 

I really can't wait for the sequel, 'The Secret Commonwealth', which arrives October 2019.

© 2020 by Chris Soul. 

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