Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2001 Costa Winner

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman


Publisher: Scholastic

Length: 548 pages

About: Final of fantasy world triology

Style: 3rd person

Where: Fantasy world

When: Not specific



Publisher’s synopsis:

The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping end, marking the final volume of His Dark Materials as the most powerful of the trilogy.

Along with the return of Lyra and other familiar characters from the first two books come a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel. So too come startling revelations: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live—and who will die—for love. And all the while, war rages with the Kingdom of Heaven, a brutal battle that—in its shocking outcome—will uncover the secret of Dust.



In a valley shaded with rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where a stream milky with meltwater splashed and where doves and linnets flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half-hidden by the crag above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below.

The woods were full of sound: the stream between the rocks, the wind among the needles of the pine branches, the chitter of insects and the cries of small arboreal mammals, as well as the birdsong; and from time to time a stronger gust of wind would make one of the branches of a cedar or a fir move against another and groan like a cello.




If anything, The Amber Spyglass is more intense than its predecessors. The climaxes are bigger; there is a fresh fire in the writing; and there is a wonderful new cast of characters - notably, a pair of gay angels. Above all, Pullman pursues his central philosophical theme with even greater passion.

For full review click here

The Guardian, Julia Eccleshall, 28th October 2000


Not so good

While some sections seem rushed and the prose is not always as brightly polished as fans might expect, Pullman's exuberant work stays rigorously true to its own internal structure. Stirring and highly provocative.

For full review click here

Publishers Weekly, 10 September 2000


About the author

Philip Pullman was born in 1946 in Norwich, England and was brought up in Rhodesia, Australia, London and Wales. Philip graduated from Oxford University in 1973 with a degree in English, and has taught middle school at Westminter College.

His father was killed in a plane crash in 1953 when Pullman was seven, being posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

His mother remarried and, with a move to Australia, came Pullman's discovery of comic books including Superman and Batman, a medium which he continues to espouse. From 1957 he was educated at Ysgol Ardudwy in Harlech, Gwynedd, and spent time in Norfolk with his grandfather, a clergyman. Around this time Pullman discovered John Milton's Paradise Lost, which would become a major influence for His Dark Materials.

Pullman married Judith Speller in 1970 and began teaching children aged 9 to 13 at Bishop Kirk Middle School in Summertown, North Oxford and writing school plays.


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Age guide: 12




Books by same author:

1972 The Haunted Storm

1976 Galatea

1982 Count Karlstein

1985 The Ruby in the Smoke

1986 The Shadow in the North (first published as The Shadow in the Plate)

1987 How to be Cool

1989 Spring-Heeled Jack

1990 The Broken Bridge

1990 The Tiger in the Well

1992 The White Mercedes

1993 The Wonderful Story of Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp

1994 The Tin Princess

1994 Thunderbolt's Waxwork

1995 Clockwork, or, All Wound Up

1995 The Firework-Maker's Daughter

1995 The Gasfitter's Ball

1995 Northern Lights; US title, The Golden Compass

1997 The Subtle Knife

 1998 Mossycoat

1998 The Butterfly Tattoo (re-issue of The White Mercedes)

1999 I was a Rat! or The Scarlet Slippers

2000 Puss in Boots: The Adventures of That Most Enterprising Feline

2003 Lyra's Oxford

2004 The Scarecrow and his Servant

2008 Once Upon a Time in the North

2010 The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

2012 Fairy Tales From The Brothers Grimm








A BBC Radio 4 full-cast  (2004)





2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

Click here


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