Synopsis: Malcolm is a schoolboy who accidentally intercepts a message intended for a spy. When that spy finds him he is drawn into a covert world of intrigue. Malcolm is also a devoted fan and protector of Lyra, a baby being raised by some nuns at a nearby convent.
Review: The Book of Dust is a new trilogy by Philip Pullman set in the His Dark Materials (HDM) universe. The first volume is La Belle Sauvage, though I find myself saying Book of Dust rather than that. Pullman maybe should have called the trilogy something else.
La Belle Sauvage is divided (well it feels like it at least) into two parts. In the first half of the book Malcolm becomes involved with a government agency that is fighting a shadow war against another agency that wants to establish
an authoritarian religious rule over it's people. Somehow Lyra, a small baby being raised in a convent, is important to these plans, and it becomes Malcolm's task to protect her.
The second half of the book is mostly concerned with Malcolm protecting Lyra and another character we are introduced to, Alice. What I really noticed about this part of the book is how the plot pinballed around. Malcolm and company bounce from one danger or challenge to the next, on a chapter by chapter basis, usually leaving one chapters dangers behind at the end of it. It feels odd because most of these dangers don't seem to really have a longterm impact on the plot.
The character building is good, with alot of focus on the building relationship between Malcolm and Alice. Malcolm is a likeable good natured kid, while Alice starts off a bit of a bitch. As the story goes on, this melts away and she grows closer to Malcolm which was a nice touch. We also gets seperate shots of Lord Asriel and the icy Miss Coulter (including a delicious little rebuttal for her).
Pullman is one of the few authors, (possibly the only one, I'm not sure) who is capable of tearing me up. That said I think I expected a little more from the book. While the character development was good, it seemed to lack emotion in a way I remembered from HDM. Still definitely worth a read; can't wait for the next two books to come out.
Next is is another Alastair Reynolds book, Slow Bullets. This one is fairly short, so I expect to have another review soon.