Book Review: Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

by @edent | #

A train going over a bridge.

Intrigue is swirling around Lyra once more. Her daemon Pantalaimon is witness to a brutal murder, and the dying man entrusts them with secrets that carry echoes from their past. They learn of a city haunted by daemons, of a desert said to hold the secret of Dust. Powerful forces are about to throw Lyra and Malcolm together once again. And the dangers they face will challenge everything they thought they knew about the world, and about themselves.

I met Philip Pullman a few years ago and, truthfully, told him I enjoyed the books. But I can’t say I love them. I’m aware of the crushing weight of symbolism, and deliberate references to contemporary theological discussions – but they are so alien to me. I’ve always found it hard to keep track of a large cast of characters – and half-remembering a cameo from a middle chapter of a decade old novel just frustrates me.

That’s my failing, not the author’s.

It’s a great adventure though. With the help of my wife’s perfect memory, I was able to work out who everyone was, and what their relationships meant. It’s a tense and exciting novel, suffused with a dream-like quality. I wish that it had dwelt longer on some of the fantastical characters.

I’d advise you to re-read the other books in this series, as it is rather unforgiving to newcomers (and the forgetful!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *