The Amber Spyglass
The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
This book is the third in the trilogy His Dark Materials, a fantasy series full of philosophical and adventurous intrigue.
Lyra is currently a captive of her mother, Mrs. Coulter. Will, accompanied by two angels, is trying to find her. He learns angels are made of Dust, and that God is just another angel, not the creator of the universe. ?God? set himself up as King upon the lie that he created the universe. When certain angels rebelled against him, he banished them. This is an interesting take on the nature of Satan and the Biblical account of the war in heaven, a la Milton?s Paradise Lost.
At Lord Asriel?s fortress, we learn through that God, now old and weak, is living in a giant floating castle. Metatron is his regent, and he has his eyes set on ruling all living beings. Lord Asriel sends servants to find the bearer of the knife, Will.
The Church, meanwhile, is trying to kill Lyra. The witches? prophecy said that Lyra is Eve, and the Church wants to prevent her from causing what they predict will be another fall of mankind. Malone is researching Dust in a world where friendly creatures called Mulefa move around on wheels that are actually giant pods of seeds that fall from trees.
Will encounters Iorek, who follows him to find Lyra. When Will almost succeeds in saving Lyra during the night, Mrs. Coulter wakes and looks at him with sorrowful eyes, reminding him of his mother. At that moment his knife breaks, and Lord Asriel?s spies intervene to help the children escape. The spies take Mrs. Coulter captive. Will and Lyra get Iorek to mend the knife. Here arises another important question: the subtle knife is the most powerful weapon in the world, capable of splitting the boundaries between universes. But it broke when Will hesitated, perhaps out of sorrow, regret, love, guilt?? Perhaps this says something about the nature of human beings and what elements reign over our lives.
Will and Lyra resolve to find the world of the dead, where Will can see his father and Lyra can see Roger. Mrs. Coulter learns that Lord Asriel wants to create a Republic Heaven, and he is currently waging a war against God himself. Mrs. Coulter then escapes.
The Mulefa tell Malone an interesting story: long ago, a snake told a female Mulefa to coat the seedpods with oil and insert her claws inside so that she could use the pods as wheels. Her mate did the same, and from then on they could see Dust. Obvious parallels with the Biblical story of Adam and Eve?this is Pullman?s metaphor for the beginning of consciousness among human beings, but he obviously does not agree with the religious doctrine of the ?fall of mankind? due to sin.
Mary Malone constructs an amber spyglass that can see Dust. She observes that more Dust floats around adults than children, a point that perhaps clues us in on the nature of the soul-eating Specters, which only target adults. The Mulefa are in trouble because Dust is quickly diminishing, flowing into a giant window leading to another world.
Lyra and Will journey into the world of the dead and learn they must separate from their daemons in order to go on. They pay the painful cost and encounter the endless seas of the dead from every universe. The dead are dull, lonely spirits constantly harried by winged harpies. Lyra charms the vicious harpies by telling them stories of her life. From then on, each dead person has to tell the harpies the story of his life, and the harpies will let him leave through an exit window created by Will.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Coulter goes to a leader of the Church and seems to betray Lord Asriel by giving Father MacPhail information about the rebellion. The Church tries to assassinate Lyra with a bomb, but fails.
A battle begins between Lord Asriel?s forces and the angels of Metatron. Will and Lyra enter this world and find their daemons. Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter sacrifice their lives to killl Metatron and save Lyra. Will and Lyra find God and open his crystal chamber to see him dissolve peacefully into the air. They then enter the world of the Mulefa, where they meet Malone.
Will and Lyra realize they are in love, and all the Dust that was leaving this world flows towards them. Tragically, each of them has to return to his own world because staying in another world for too long causes early death. Furthermore, every hole created by the knife must be sealed because every time a hole is made, a Specter comes into being. They sorrowfully leave each other, and Will breaks the knife. In Lyra?s world, Lyra and Pantalaimon decide to create a Republic of Heaven.
The ending of this powerful trilogy leaves the reader with a swirl of thoughts to ponder, the most prominent of which is Pullman?s commentary on human nature and religion. Regardless of whether one agrees with Pullman?s beliefs, this trilogy is a guaranteed enjoyable read, challenging the mind of any reader in imaginative ways.