Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Northern Lights Trilogy by Philip Pullman

I actually red the first volume of this trilogy more than ten years ago when I picked it up at a newstand before boarding a transatlantic flight. I guess I was initially taken aback when I realised that it was actually a kids books but the more I read of it the darker the story became and I quickly realised this was superior children's fiction - in the same league as Harry Potter or maybe even better.  It took me a decade to get around to reading the next two books but 11 year old daughter is a complete book worm so when I saw a single volume collection of the trilogy on sale in a local book fair I thought:" Why not?. If I don't like it she probably will."

As so much time had passed I started again with book one and kept reading to the end. I really enjoyed the series for its imagination, for its writing and for its sheer audacity  but ... I don't know whether I want my daughter to
read it or not. It is a great great story but it is also an extremely subversive one. The whole plot of the book is actually about overthrowing God. The Christian Churches are very clearly portrayed as the bad guys. It is actually very cleverly done with many references to Christian mythology.

Its not that we are a particularly devout family. To tell the truth I probably don't believe any of that stuff myself but my daughter is at a very young very impressionable age and she does still believe. She might enjoy the book immensely but then again it could confuse her or upset her. On the other hand I am not big into censorship without explanation so if she expresses an interest in the book I will discuss it with her and if she still wants to read it I can be on hand to talk about the ideas in the book if required.

Oh and as for the books themselves: The first volume (Northern Lights) is the tightest and best and sadly the storyline gets a little too unfocussed in the final volume (The Amber Spyglass) but nevertheless the trilogy should really be read as a single work and taken together it is a genuine masterpiece.

No comments: