His Dark Materials Novellas by Philip Pullman: Review

Below are mini-reviews of these two short books. If I gave you a full review, it would be longer than these two books! :)

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip PullmanTitle: Once Upon a Time in the North
Author: Philip Pullman
Publisher: Alfred A Knoph
Publication Date: April 2008
Length: 104
Series: His Dark Materials (# 0.5)
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: Sword & Laser Book Club

From GoodReads:

In this prequel episode from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials universe, Lee Scoresby -- Texan aeronaut and future friend to Lyra Belacqua -- is 24 years old. The story reveals the origins of Scoresby's friendship with Iorek Byrnison as well as Scoresby's aeronautical career.

After winning his hot-air balloon in a poker game, Scoresby finds himself floating north. On the Arctic island of Novy Odense, Scoresby and his dæmon Hester become involved in a deadly plot involving an oil magnate, a corrupt mayoral candidate, and a hired killer who is Lee's longtime nemesis from the Dakota Country. Forming an alliance with one of the island's reviled armored bears, Scoresby fights to break up the conspiracy.

This clothbound volume features the illustrations of John Lawrence, a removable board game on the inside back cover, and the story that offers a glimpse into the origins of the friendship of two beloved characters in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

Unlike Lyra's Oxford, this is a short stand alone story that could be enjoyed by someone who has not read His Dark Materials. With that said, I would only recommend this book to someone who enjoyed His Dark Materials and wants more of Iorek, Lee, and this universe. I thought this story was pretty exciting, and I enjoyed it thoroughly even though I didn't really remember much about Iorek and Lee. If you want to take advantage of all the pullouts that are in this book, I would recommend picking up the physical copy. There are pictures of these items in the e-book, but I think the physical book would be more fun.

Overall, I give this book a 4 out of 5.

Very Good

Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman
Title: Lyra's Oxford
Author: Philip Pullman
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 2003
Length: 64
Series: His Dark Materials (#3.5)
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: Sword & Laser Book Club

From GoodReads:

Lyra's Oxford begins with Lyra and Pantalaimon spotting a witch's daemon. Lyra shelters the daemon from the pursuit of a frenzied pack of birds, and then attempts to help by guiding the daemon to the home of an alchemist living in a part of Oxford known as Jericho. The journey through Oxford reveals more dangers than Lyra had anticipated.

I wish I had read this book right after I had completed the His Dark Materials trilogy. I only had a vague recollection of most of the characters, and this book mentions some of the important secondary characters from the series. It was nice to see Lyra doing well after her adventures in His Dark Materials. If you want to get your full enjoyment out of this book, I recommend getting your hands on the physical book. There are some map pullouts and other fiddly bits that you miss out on in the e-book copy. I had pictures of them in my e-book, but I think I would have liked them better, if I had the physical items. This was a fun book, but I would only recommend it to someone who loves His Dark Materials

At this time, I give this book a 3 out of 5. I think my rating might increase to a 4, if I do a reread of the trilogy and this little book.


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