cover image The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2)

The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2)

Philip Pullman. Knopf, $22.99 (656p) ISBN 978-0-553-51066-9

Twenty years after the events of La Belle Sauvage, and eight years after those of the His Dark Materials trilogy, this second volume in Pullman's Book of Dust series blends spy thriller, otherworldly travelogue, and philosophical musing. Twenty-year-old Lyra Silvertongue's student life in Oxford is upended when her daemon, Pantalaimon, witnesses an incident that entangles them with a covert agency to which Malcolm Polstead belongs, impelling Malcolm to investigate a shift in the global power balance. Meanwhile, Lyra's fascination with a logic-obsessed, daemon-omitting novel causes Pan to decamp in search of her imagination. Tracked by a young alethiometer savant named Bonneville, Lyra furtively sets out for the Levant, searching for a rumored refuge for separated daemons. Through prodigious planning that is likely to set up the final volume, Pullman connects characters and moments from all the previous books. The sprawling, sometimes meandering narrative follows Lyra, Pan, and Malcolm on their journeys while exploring the power of transnational religious and corporate organizations, the plight of various marginalized groups, and the importance of a worldview that includes unprovable truths. Lyra, Pantalaimon, and Malcolm are familiar yet altered by age; it is a pleasure to get to know them again. Ages 14%E2%80%93up. (Oct.)