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The Subtle Knife

(His Dark Materials #2)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  300,967 ratings  ·  7,230 reviews
ASIN moved from this edition
The second instalment in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, join Lyra as her terrifying journey continues.


She had asked: What is he? A friend or an enemy?

The alethiometer answered: He is a murderer.

When she saw the answer, she relaxed at once.

Lyra finds herself in a shimmering, haunted otherworld – Cittàgazze, where soul-eating S
Kindle Edition, 370 pages
Published September 2018 by RHCP Digital (first published July 22nd 1997)
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Kaitlin Moore-Morley So Atheism is the denial of God... I would say the book is more pantheistic or agnostic depending on how you choose to view the work. The witches have…moreSo Atheism is the denial of God... I would say the book is more pantheistic or agnostic depending on how you choose to view the work. The witches have their own goddess, there is a heaven, and angels, and hierarchy. But the book never addresses how the earth was formed other than dust formed the angels.

However there are nuggets of beauty for the person who chooses to believe in God, particularly in the third book when grace is addressed.

I'm a Christian pastor.... I love the church and all it is supposed to be and Pullman's world is often hostile to the church that is. I'm good with that. However, often times it's easy to be critical or reduce to a word [like that book is] "atheist" when your beliefs are threatened or the dark spots are pointed out by an outsider. It makes it easier to get people to ignore the work.... because God forbid there is a piece of fantasy fiction that isn't theologically accurate. (less)

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(A-) 81% | Very Good
Notes: Changes direction from the last book, expanding the mythology and affirming religion as the key theme of the series.
Bookdragon Sean
When I read this the first time I completely overlooked a main component of the book. I approached it as if was the second book in the series, a massive mistake. I wrote a review criticising the fact that the novel felt awkward; it had no beginning or end: it just felt like the typical content you’d find in the middle of the story. The ironic point of this is that most critics take the trilogy as one whole book, rather than three separate works. And this really is the best way to approach the st ...more
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The second entry in a trilogy is often, in my opinion, the best. The author doesn't have to introduce the universe or the characters, as they did in the first installment, but they don't need to worry about wrapping up all the plot points either. Instead, the focus can be on 'the good stuff': elaborating on the story, teasing us more, giving action, chopping off Luke's hand and so on. Instead of the good stuff, in The Subtle Knife I feel as though we've had a bait and switch pulled on us.

In The
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.”

Ahmad Sharabiani
The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2), Philip Pullman
The Subtle Knife, the second book in the His Dark Materials series, is a young-adult fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman and published in 1997. The novel continues the adventures of Lyra Belacqua as she investigates the mysterious Dust phenomenon and searches for her father. Will Parry is introduced as a companion to Lyra, and together they explore the new realms to which they have both been introduced.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه
¡Ese FINAL!!!

te deja con la NECESIDAD de saber que sigue.

Estos no son libros infantiles, no se que se le metió al editor o a quien se lo ocurrió la brillante idea de clasificarlos de esa forma, pero a mi parecer que tengamos por protagonistas a niños no hace que el libro ipso facto sea infantil. Esta vez el centro de la historia, al parecer, es la búsqueda del padre de Will, pero una vez mas Pullman nos muestra que su trama es mas complicada de lo que aparenta ser.

Los puentes entre los mundos
Cait • A Page with a View
I love the world(s), but this is where the series starts getting too weird for me. I'm just not huge on the anti-religion theme... like at times it takes away from the actual story with its intensity. I absolutely love when books can mess around with theoretical physics or philosophy, so there were still some aspects I had fun with. But the religion stuff stuck out really awkwardly for me and was hard to get past.

I'm still a big fan of the witches, Lyra, Will, and the worldbuilding in general,
David Schaafsma
Sep 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I share this review again in the fall of 2017 as a fourth volume (though Pullman later wrote two companion pieces to the trilogy, entitled Lyra's Oxford, and Once Upon a Time in the North), The Book of Dust, has been released, to encourage all ages to read. As with most great "children's" books, there are a range of levels on which Pullman is working. He's taking on the Roman Catholic view of reality, C.S. Lewis (in The Chronicles of Narnia), and is in conversation with John Milton, whose Paradi ...more
Catriona (LittleBookOwl)
Mmmmk. So I rated this 2.5 stars when I read it a few months ago, and I was unsure if I would finish the series... I've since decided I won't be reading book three. I'm honestly pretty disappointed with a tweet the author posted and his subsequent responses to those who replied, especially his trans readers. In this case, I've decided not to separate the author from the work.
Dec 04, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I am not a fan of forwarded emails. They frustrate me, because they usually come from the same group of people, people I like a great deal but who never send me a normal "hey, how's it going?" message. Just "Support our Troops" or "Tell every woman you know she's special" or "Microsoft is running a test and if you send this you could get a check for $1,000!" When I see the letters FWD in the subject line, I usually simply delete it.

I lost track of the number of emails I received telling me about
Candace Wynell McHann
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weird like the Wizard of Oz, magical like Harry Potter, and interesting, totally unlike "Chronicles of Narnia." The symbolism is so agog, so strange... Obviously, it makes for a great young adult novel!!
Shayantani Das
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two very strange things happened last week. I gave I Am Half Sick Of Shadows: A Flavia De Luce Novel two stars and am now giving this book five star. It is strange because the former book’s protagonist, my dear Flavia De Luce is my favorite obstinate pre teen. On the contrary, Lyra, another stubborn, precocious, pre-teen absolutely annoyed me in the previous book. Right now though, I can not for the life of me imagine why I did not like the first novel and Lyra. Well, at least I adore her right ...more
For a moment, just imagine that after reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone you were so enthralled by the protagonist (even if you weren't bare with me), his friends and the entire world that has been established. It has moral undertones, but at it's heart it is a fun fantasy novel. Then you pick up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and suddenly Harry has been downgraded as a protagonist in favor of Dan, our brand new second main character. He's super awesome and whatnot and sort o ...more
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as fantastic all these years later. Still shocking, still clever, still more grown up than a lot of 'adult' books out there. This book doesn't shy away, doesn't talk down, and definitely doesn't disappoint.
Amy | shoutame
The second in the trilogy and possibly my favourite out of the three.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this case, the high rating is not for the actual quality of the book (that is very good btw), but for all that it meant to me while I was growing up.
Carmen de la Rosa
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bc2018
Vaya final!
Ha sido muy inesperado!.
Sin duda esta segunda parte es mucho mejor que la primera.

Las aventuras de Lyra continúan, un poco después del final de la Brújula Dorada y ahora está con Will Parry, un niño de 12 años de nuestro mundo. Los dos se encuentran cuando Will, tratando de escapar de los problemas en su ciudad natal de Oxford, Inglaterra, se desliza a través de una ventana invisible (como una hoja de aire en el aire) hacia un tercer mundo, Cittagazze, donde se topa con Lyra. Recopila
Maria Espadinha
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Um Universo Provocador

Trepanação — alguém conhece tamanho palavrão?
Muito honesta e sinceramente, devo confessar que desconhecia tal vocábulo!
Mas agora que li “A Torre dos Anjos”, e após o inestimável auxílio do Mestre Google, fiquei a saber que se trata duma prática milenar, onde, por acção dum instrumento dito cirúrgico (que, diga-se de passagem, mais parece um daqueles apetrechos de tortura utilizados pela Inquisição) se abriam orifícios no crânio, tendo em vista expurgar os espíritos maléfico
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much like the city of Citagazze, The Subtle Knife is the crossroads between Northern Lights and The Amber Spyglass, and as such I think it's unfair to judge it as a single novel. It introduces the wonderful characters of Will and Mary, and brings the whole concept of multiple worlds into play. We also see small hints of the rebellion that will be raged across the worlds, but more importantly we see the beginnings of Lyra and Will. In Will we see someone who's had responsibility thrust upon them ...more
Xime García
Reseña de "Luces del Norte" (La Materia Oscura 1)
Reseña de "El Catalejo Lacado" (La Materia Oscura 3)

¿Habéis intervenido en la evolución humana?

¿Por qué?

Este segundo libro me gustó muchísimo más que el primero. Se dieron muchos giros, conocimos nuevos personajes y arribamos a nuevos mundos. Todo lo planteado en Luces del Norte gana mayor terreno (diría que colosal) y todo lo que pensábamos que podía ser de una forma, termina siendo de otra.

Sin embargo, puedo ver por qué hay alguno
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalisa by: Ryan
What I did like about this book is that it starts with Lyra, a girl we have become acquainted with from another world, meeting Will, a boy from our world. Bringing the fantasy into our own reality was surreal and interesting. But only for a minute and then it became a bore. The story was slow and at some points stopped altogether to allow Pullman his theological preachings of anti-church and anti-god. If the story had been metaphorical I would have enjoyed it more, but it became less fiction and ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why, no, I have never read His Dark Materials before. It was not a thing in Poland and after seeing that nonsensical film I was not exactly inspired to read it.

However, when I was in New Your a few weeks ago, my friend there practically forced these books on me. And then it got really cold, the water in our pipes froze and reading some good children's fantasy novel seemed like the best idea.

This series is definitely improving as it goes on. I liked this better than the first part. The first few
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: clara
Mais um volume da série "Mundos Paralelos" lido a meias com a Pequetinha mais nova. Gostámos muito do livro, mas não da forma como acabou, com uma cena "cruel e desnecessária", usando as palavras dela. Vamos ver se no terceiro e último volume, o autor se redime...
May 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens

It is so surprising to me that the thing I found vastly irritating right at page one of the first of this series - the daemon - so quickly captivated me. You have this daemon in you, all of us, just as the story goes. And as a child it is anything, it has the fantastical vision that children have, there is nothing to stop it. But then we mostly grow up and we mostly lose the idea that we can do anything, we lose imagination, we lose the unconscious bravery of our childhood, we lose the i
Brigid ✩ Cool Ninja Sharpshooter ✩
So, I'm re-reading this trilogy for the first time in like twelve years! I was curious to see what my stance on it would be after all this time. I remember loving the first book as a kid and then being a little iffy about books two and three ... and well, I think I liked this second installment a bit more as an adult, but I do still feel it's not quite as strong as the first book.

There are still a lot of things I love about The Subtle Knife:

• The world-building continues to be very entrancing, e
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
The strangest thing about Phillip Pullman's The Subtle Knife is that it doesn't feel like the second book in a series, making me wonder whether Pullman first wrote this in conjunction with The Amber Spyglass, then wrote The Golden Compass as a prequel, which then became the first book in the series once they were published.

Not that it matters.

What matters is that The Subtle Knife is too fast, too plot driven, and too much "a set-up" book to be an effective second book in the trilogy. Second bo
It has been a while since a book last left me with the desire to have my head trepanned and to become a shaman. And I suppose these days it is difficult to get on the training course and who knows if the pension scheme will be all that it was cracked out to be?

Reading I thought this business of the human mind and the flow of consciousness through a multiplicity of universes reminded me of something else. As always it takes some days for this kind of thought to percolate down to the answer - I re
Sep 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read this book I was young enough to still pronounce the 'b' in 'subtle', and now I can't look at this book without doing it again. I still think it sounds better that way - it gives the word a sort of dull power that I think depicts the mysterious magic of the knife much better than the silly, flippant 'suttle'. Saying 'sub-tle' opens up previously-unimagined worlds which extend indefinitely into the distance.

And this is what is good about this series. I've come up with a list of
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This second volume of His Dark Materials introduced a couple of new characters such as young Will, who becomes Lyra's friend. Lyra has crossed the bridge between the worlds at the end of the last book and landed in a city of another where there are no adults, apparently because of specters. Shortly later she meets Will, who has had it hard in his very own way what with his sick mother and missing father. For some reason, the alethiometer tells Lyra to help him find his father.
Through Will, Lyra
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In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards ...more

Other books in the series

His Dark Materials (3 books)
  • The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)
  • The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3)
“Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit.” 238 likes
“For a human being, nothing comes naturally,' said Grumman. 'We have to learn everything we do.” 87 likes
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