It's been announced and postponed a couple of times, but now it's really, truly, happening and instead of one book we can look forward to three - Philip Pullman's The Book of Dust trilogy. Set ten years before The Golden Compass, The Book of Dust (releasing October 19) and two subsequent novels, tell the story of Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon.
We're used to seeing prequels and sequels but this is something that Pullman calls an "equel," a story that rides shotgun to His Dark Materials trilogy that began two decades ago with The Golden Compass (titled Northern Lights outside the U.S.). Pullman's concept of Dust that is a lynch-pin of His Dark Materials trilogy has sat with him in the years since the final book, The Amber Spyglass, was published in 2000 and his vision of what the Dust is and where it came from became increasingly clear over time. And now we will see his vision realized in book form. If you are unfamiliar with his previous books, here are a few tidbits:
1. His Dark Materials series is a re-telling of John Milton's Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost was a book Pullman discovered and fell in love with as a teen, which may explain why he chose to write The Golden Compass, etc., for both a teen and adult audience. In his homage to the master work, Pullman took Milton's poem and flipped it into an unapologetic loss of innocence and expression of the necessity of taking on the mantle of adulthood.
2. Pullman's characters' have daemon companions that were inspired by works of art including Leonardo Da Vinci's Lady with Ermine and Holbein's A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling.
3. Despite winning numerous awards, Pullman's His Dark Materials books have also been ranked at the top of America's banned books list. Has this concerned him? Only insofar as the idea of anyone dictating what people can and cannot read. Think of all the writers who have been inspired by books that have made the banned book list... it's a question and concern that should never be ignored and it's writers like Philip Pullman who encourage each new generation of children's and young adult authors to raise their voices against censorship.
Like a sun-soaked vacation scheduled for the end of a long, cold, winter, we now have The Book of Dust to look forward to when the leaves fall and we begin to lament the end of summer. In my opinion this already takes some of the sting out of it...
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