cover image His Dark Materials, Book III: The Amber Spyglass

His Dark Materials, Book III: The Amber Spyglass

Philip Pullman. Listening Library, $45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8072-8237-3

As the assured, silver-tongued narrator weaving amongst the excellent work of approximately 40 British actors, Pullman extends an impossible-to-refuse invitation to listening adventure on this splendid adaptation of the much-anticipated conclusion to the His Dark Materials trilogy. The author picks up the story of Lyra Belaqua where it left off in The Subtle Knife. In the most provocative installment yet, Lyra finds herself at the center of what is to be the final battle between good and evil she is a target for the Church, which sees her as a threat. But she is also happily re-teamed with Will Parry, the young hero who Lyra eventually recognizes is her soul mate/true love. Throughout, Pullman challenges Christianity and God (who is a craggy old man here, very different from the usual biblical depiction), asking readers to examine the ideas of organized religion. Favorite characters such as Iorek the bear and Lyra's parents, Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, return, though the introduction of layers of new creatures and new worlds may require more careful listening. As the rich tale unfolds, Pullman's voice elegant with a hint of both whisper and rasp thoroughly enthralls, sounding by turns forceful and tender. The talented, extensive cast gives a dynamic, nearly flawless performance, with highlights that include the youthful and exuberant Lyra and Will (Alison Wyatt and Peter England) and the dramatic, emotional dialogue of angels/companions Baruch (Nigel Carrington) and Balthamos (Alec McCowen). Ages 12-up. (May)