Philip Pullman: Serpentine

October 19, 2020

     It’s another of the slim volumes complementary to His Dark Materials, like Lyra’s Oxford, and Once Upon A Time in the North, with a chapter’s worth of narrative and some good illustrations in a nicely-produced little volume, a sort of taster to keep readers alert for the next big volume, which will probably be the final volume in the Book of Dust series, as well as the end of Lyra’s adventures…

We’re back in the frozen north, as Pullman and Lyra explore the interesting idea of humans able to separate from their daemons, which of course Lyra and Pan have been able to do since she and Will travelled through the world of the dead. How many others can actually do this? Witches can, but evidently there are more humans with this ability, and of course the situation in Will’s world is quite different. And what about the effect on both the human and the daemon of separation? How can Lyra manage her changed relationship with her daemon? There is now the potential for each to know and experience things that the other does not…

This also sent me back to thinking about the enforced separation of human and daemon – intercision – for which the centre at Bolvangar was set up.

If you’re a fan of Pullman’s alternate universes, then this little book, which time-wise sits between the end of the Dark Materials trilogy and The Secret Commonwealth, then you won’t want to miss this one. And you get an afterword where Pullman explains the genesis of the story…

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