Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Philip Pullman's epic fantasy trilogy, begun with the critically acclaimed The Golden Compass. Lyra and Will, her newfound friend, tumble separately into the strange tropical otherworld of Citt?gazze, "the city of magpies," where adults are curiously absent and children run wild. Here their lives become inextricably entwined when Lyra's alethiometer gives her a simple command: find Will's father.
Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy now appears in sophisticated trade paperback editions, each title embossed within a runic emblem of antiqued gold. The backdrop of The Golden Compass: His Dark Materials, Book I sports a midnight blue map of the cosmos with the zodiacal ram at its center. The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass carry similarly intriguing cover art, and all three titles offer details not seen in the originals: in Compass and Knife, for example, Pullman's stamp-size b&w art introduces each chapter; Spyglass chapters open with literary quotes from Blake, the Bible, Dickinson and more. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Knopf Books for Young Readers
September 08, 2003
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Excerpt from The Subtle Knife: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Will tugged at his mother's hand and said, "Come on, come
But his mother hung back. She was still afraid. Will looked up and down
the narrow street in the evening light, along the little terrace of
houses, each behind its tiny garden and its box hedge, with the sun
glaring off the windows of one side and leaving the other in shadow. There
wasn't much time. People would be having their meal about now, and soon
there would be other children around, to stare and comment and notice. It
was dangerous to wait, but all he could do was persuade her, as usual.
"Mum, let's go in and see Mrs. Cooper," he said. "Look, we're nearly
"Mrs. Cooper?" she said doubtfully.
But he was already ringing the bell. He had to put down the bag to do it,
because his other hand still held his mother's. It might have bothered him
at twelve years of age to be seen holding his mother's hand, but he knew
what would happen to her if he didn't.
The door opened, and there was the stooped elderly figure of the piano
teacher, with the scent of lavender water about her as he remembered.
"Who's that? Is that William?" the old lady said. "I haven't seen you for
over a year. What do you want, dear?"
"I want to come in, please, and bring my mother," he said firmly.
Mrs. Cooper looked at the woman with the untidy hair and the distracted
half-smile, and at the boy with the fierce, unhappy glare in his eyes, the
tight-set lips, the jutting jaw. And then she saw that Mrs. Parry, Will's
mother, had put makeup on one eye but not on the other. And she hadn't
noticed. And neither had Will. Something was wrong.
"Well ..." she said, and stepped aside to make room in the narrow hall.
Will looked up and down the road before closing the door, and Mrs. Cooper
saw how tightly Mrs. Parry was clinging to her son's hand, and how
tenderly he guided her into the sitting room where the piano was (of
course, that was the only room he knew); and she noticed that Mrs. Parry's
clothes smelled slightly musty, as if they'd been too long in the washing
machine before drying; and how similar the two of them looked as they sat
on the sofa with the evening sun full on their faces, their broad
cheekbones, their wide eyes, their straight black brows.
"What is it, William?" the old lady said. "What's the matter?"
"My mother needs somewhere to stay for a few days," he said. "It's too
difficult to look after her at home just now. I don't mean she's ill.
She's just kind of confused and muddled, and she gets a bit worried. She
won't be hard to look after. She just needs someone to be kind to her, and
I think you could do that quite easily, probably."
The woman was looking at her son without seeming to understand, and Mrs.
Cooper saw a bruise on her cheek. Will hadn't taken his eyes off Mrs.
Cooper, and his expression was desperate.
"She won't be expensive," he went on. "I've brought some packets of food,
enough to last, I should think. You could have some of it too. She won't