In time for the 25th anniversary of his beloved fantasy series-starter The Golden Compass, British author Philip Pullman will publish a new standalone short story featuring Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pan. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers announced today the October 15 release of Serpentine in hardcover and ebook format, featuring illustrations by Tom Duxbury. Listening Library will simultaneously release an audiobook, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman (The Crown; The Favourite).
Pullman said in a statement, “Why are we publishing this story now? Because with the development of The Book of Dust, especially after the events described in The Secret Commonwealth, we can see a change in the way Lyra understands herself, and her relationship with Pantalaimon, which is prefigured in this little Arctic episode. When I wrote Serpentine, I had no idea that I was going on to write another trilogy, showing Lyra as an adult, but she and her world wouldn’t leave me alone. When it comes to human affairs, a billion invisible filaments connect us to our own pasts, as well as to the most remote things we can imagine; and I hope that, above all, these books are about being alive and being human.”
Set after the events of His Dark Materials but before those of The Secret Commonwealth, the new story takes place as a teenage Lyra returns to Trollesund, where she first met the armored bear Iorek Byrnison and aeronaut Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass. Lyra and Pan are in pursuit of information about their secret ability to separate.
Pullman originally wrote Serpentine in 2004 for a charity auction. It was commissioned by the National Theatre’s then-director, Nicholas Hytner, during the stage production of His Dark Materials.
The Golden Compass, the book that started it all, has received numerous awards, including the “Carnegie of Carnegies,” and has sold more than two million copies since its release in 1995. The novel has been translated into 45 languages, and was adapted into a 2007 feature film, plus a new HBO television series.
Pullman is in the midst of expanding the world of His Dark Materials with a second trilogy, The Book of Dust, which he describes as an “equel”—“it doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it,” he said at the time the series was announced in early 2017. The trilogy kicked off in October of that year with La Belle Sauvage and continued in 2019 with The Secret Commonwealth. The title and pub date of the final volume have not yet been announced, but Pullman offered this teaser during the launch event for Book 2: “We can see where the story is going in this book. It’s going towards central Asia, it involves roses and it involves Dust. That’s all I can tell you—I don’t even have a title for it yet!”