Monday, January 14, 2013

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman

I actually finished The Amber Spyglass days ago, but I've been quite busy (not to mention sick yesterday) and neglected to blog about it until now.  But I actually found this book to be better, in many ways, in rereading it -- I'm not sure I understood as well what was going on the first time, and I certainly didn't remember the events in the book as well as I thought I did.

Warning: Spoilers follow.  Read on at your own risk!

It's not until you get to The Amber Spyglass that you understand why organized religion is so opposed to this trilogy.  On the risk of giving some of it away (and why I wrote the above spoiler warning), the "Authority" or God in the trilogy -- and not just over Lyra's world, but all worlds -- is nothing more than an angel who has assumed that title, and cast out all angels who spoke out against him.  Now he is ancient, near death, and another angel, an evil angel, is ruling in the Authority's name.

Essentially, God is a lie.  And now you see why there was such a fuss about it when they were planning on making The Golden Compass into a movie, and why they never got further than the first installment in the trilogy.

I think the story is brilliant, but then, I'm not Christian.  I never read Christianity into Narnia or The Lord of the Rings, and I tend to see His Dark Materials as just good fantasy.  Satisfying, perhaps, and with an important question about what really ought to be considered sin, but it's just fantasy, fiction, and nothing more.

In any case, I think these books are destined to become one of the long-time classics in the YA fantasy genre.  Someday they will be held up there with Narnia and the others.  Most likely someone will even do some mental gymnastics and figure out a way to read Christianity into them, too!

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