Review of “Once Upon a Time in the North” by Philip Pullman

Title: Once Upon a Time in the North
Author: Philip Pullman
Series: His Dark Materials #0.5
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 104
Published: 2008, Alfred A. Knopf
My Grade: 4 out of 5 arctic rabbits

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

In this prequel episode from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials universe, Lee Scoresby — Texan aeronaut and future friend to Lyra Belacqua — is 24 years old. The story reveals the origins of Scoresby’s friendship with Iorek Byrnison as well as Scoresby’s aeronautical career.

After winning his hot-air balloon in a poker game, Scoresby finds himself floating north. On the Arctic island of Novy Odense, Scoresby and his dæmon Hester become involved in a deadly plot involving an oil magnate, a corrupt mayoral candidate, and a hired killer who is Lee’s longtime nemesis from the Dakota Country. Forming an alliance with one of the island’s reviled armored bears, Scoresby fights to break up the conspiracy.

MY REVIEW

When I read His Dark Materials, Once Upon a Time in the North had just gotten out and I hadn’t gotten my hands on it. Then I continued to not have it and therefore not read it. Until now. And I feel more than ever that I really have to reread the original series. I can’t even remember who Lee Scoresby is and what his role is. The bear, Iorek, I do remember bits and pieces of, but no big details.

It was a short story, very enjoyable. But it might have been more enjoyable if I didn’t read it “before” the original series. Hard to remember after 10 years. But it gets a 4. Maybe I will give it a higher grade after I finish rereading His Dark Materials.

 

Review of “La Belle Sauvage” by Philip Pullman

Title: La Belle Sauvage
Author: Philip Pullman
Series: The Book of Dust #1
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 464
Published: 2017, Alfred A. Knopf
My Grade: 4 out of 5 souls

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy…
Malcolm’s father runs an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his dæmon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.
He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust–and the spy it was intended for finds him.
When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, Malcolm sees suspicious characters everywhere; Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a dæmon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl–just a baby–named Lyra.
Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make chocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

 

MY REVIEW

I guess that most people have read His Dark Materials, or have had a parent read it to them when they were kids? Or at least heard of it? The Golden Compass? I read the series in 2008 (as a 17 year old) for the first time and I absolutely loved them! The Book of Dust have been planned for a long time and I have patiently waited, until I honestly forgot about it.

I’ve been meaning to reread the original series but frankly been afraid that if I reread them, my idea of them being incredibly amazing would shatter. But after finishing La Belle Sauvage, I feel ready to reread them, and I feel confident that I won’t be disappointed and have an even clearer view of why they are amazing. Because ten years later, I can’t remember a single detail about them, just that they were good.

But anyway, La Belle Sauvage lived up to my expectations. It followed the same style as His Dark Materials and it was easy to see Pullmans version of England while reading.

The story is perhaps a little bit slow until the end when a lot of spaced out stuff happens. But even if not many things happen, it was hard to put it down. He has a very smooth way of writing if that explains anything? I find his writing very appealing and easy to read. And yes, smooth.

I give La Belle Sauvage a four and I hope that I will enjoy His Dark Materials once again!