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The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2)
The Subtle Knife - His Dark Materials, Bk 2
Author: Philip Pullman
Lost in a new world, Lyra finds Will -- a boy on the run, a murderer -- a worthy and welcome ally. For this is a world where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and witches share the skies with troops of angels. — Each is searching -- Lyra for the meaning of Dark Matter, Will for his missing father -- but what they find instead is a deadly sec...  more »
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PBS Market Price: $8.09 or $4.19+1 credit
ISBN-13: 9780440418337
ISBN-10: 044041833X
Publication Date: 5/2001
Pages: 326
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 132 ratings
Publisher: Yearling
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

SierraK avatar reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 194 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
"The Subtle Knife" is the second book in "The Dark Materials" trilogy. This book introduces a whole new story line to the story: that of young Will Parry, a boy from "our world" in Oxford. Will decides to undertake a mission to discover the fate of his father, the Arctic explorer John Parry. Will meets the young girl Lyra Silvertongue, protagonist of "The Golden Compass" and together they undertake the search for Will's father.

This book is even more magical than the first book in the trilogy.
Buttercupp avatar reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on
Helpful Score: 3
The story in this book is the second of the Dark Materials trilogy and should not be read before reading the first book. That being said, I loved this trilogy and feel that it surpasses even Harry Potter (another series that I love). The book is written for young adults, but I've known several older adults who've read the book and enjoyed it tremendously.
alterlisa avatar reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 335 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book is listed as a young adult but I have read the trilogy twice now as an adult and throughly enjoyed it. The Subtle Knife is the best of the trilogy. Read it the first time when my daughter was in elementary school and reread the series after seeing the Golden Compass. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and reading just one more chapter before you go to bed.
reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 21 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the sequel to the Golden Compass. My son who is 12 years old, and a strong reader, thoroughly enjoyed and recommends it to other tweeners.
jeffp avatar reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 201 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Volume 2 of His Dark Materials. I found the characters uneven, with motivations that aren't explained, and the overall direction of the story gets a bit muddled in here.
Not terrible, but just not that good.
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debbieae avatar reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 18 more book reviews
This is the second book in the series and does not stand alone so read The Golden Compass first. This is still a good read, but not as good as the first book.

There is some interesting stuff in here about wars in heaven and how angels came to be. There is a promise of a really interesting revelation. Lyra's father has upset the balance of the world in the first book and there are lots of references to Lyra being the Eve of the remaking of the world.

There are some anti-religious references, but the speculation is confined to fantasy. You must believe the fantasy the author creates to truly find this a reasonable argument against God.
reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on
I did not care for the book itself. While I realize that good characters should change as time passes, just like people, I was bothered by the changes in Lyra. She just didn't seem like herself. Will, the main character for this book, didn't interest me all that much either. In fact, I can't say I cared or was even interested in ANY of the characters.

I continued reading this book, thinking it might get more interesting. The plot points were not compelling to me.

I realize this is a middle book, so it may get how this all fits together until the last book, but I'm not all that compelled to finish the series.
reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 636 more book reviews
This one picked up right away from where the first book (The Golden Compass) left off and was very interesting. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Mostly, I was thrilled and shocked with the end. It was exciting and surprisingly sad. I am very interested to keep reading. The religious stuff was a bit more involved in this one, and my only real complaint about the whole book was the over-use of the title within the prose. It just grated on my nerves.
artsncrafts avatar reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 52 more book reviews
Excellent series (His Dark Materials) More interesting in many ways than the Harry Potter series
reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 21 more book reviews
After watching the movie (which I thought was kind of dull), I tried out reading the books. The first book is better than the movie, by quite a bit, but still at times it felt like it was "work" to read. The second book was even worse and then the third book I skipped most of it. The first book is worth reading the second and third are not.
reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 100 more book reviews
With The Golden Compass Philip Pullman garnered every accolade under the sun. Critics lobbed around such superlatives as "elegant," "awe-inspiring," "grand," and "glittering," and used "magnificent" with gay abandon. Each reader had a favorite chapter--or, more likely, several--from the opening tour de force to Lyra's close call at Bolvangar to the great armored-bear battle. And Pullman was no less profligate when it came to intellectual firepower or singular characters. The dæmons alone grant him a place in world literature. Could the second installment of his trilogy keep up this pitch, or had his heroine and her too, too sullied parents consumed him? And what of the belief system that pervaded his alternate universe, not to mention the mystery of Dust? More revelations and an equal number of wonders and new players were definitely in order.

The Subtle Knife offers everything we could have wished for, and more. For a start, there's a young hero--from our world--who is a match for Lyra Silvertongue and whose destiny is every bit as shattering. Like Lyra, Will Parry has spent his childhood playing games. Unlike hers, though, his have been deadly serious. This 12-year-old long ago learned the art of invisibility: if he could erase himself, no one would discover his mother's increasing instability and separate them.

As the novel opens, Will's enemies will do anything for information about his missing father, a soldier and Arctic explorer who has been very much airbrushed from the official picture. Now Will must get his mother into safe seclusion and make his way toward Oxford, which may hold the key to John Parry's disappearance. But en route and on the lam from both the police and his family's tormentors, he comes upon a cat with more than a mouse on her mind: "She reached out a paw to pat something in the air in front of her, something quite invisible to Will." What seems to him a patch of everyday Oxford conceals far more: "The cat stepped forward and vanished." Will, too, scrambles through and into another oddly deserted landscape--one in which children rule and adults (and felines) are very much at risk. Here in this deathly silent city by the sea, he will soon have a dustup with a fierce, flinty little girl: "Her expression was a mixture of the very young--when she first tasted the cola--and a kind of deep, sad wariness." Soon Will and Lyra (and, of course, her dæmon, Pantalaimon) uneasily embark on a great adventure and head into greater tragedy.

As Pullman moves between his young warriors and the witch Serafina Pekkala, the magnetic, ever-manipulative Mrs. Coulter, and Lee Scoresby and his hare dæmon, Hester, there are clear signs of approaching war and earthly chaos. There are new faces as well. The author introduces Oxford dark-matter researcher Mary Malone; the Latvian witch queen Ruta Skadi, who "had trafficked with spirits, and it showed"; Stanislaus Grumman, a shaman in search of a weapon crucial to the cause of Lord Asriel, Lyra's father; and a serpentine old man whom Lyra and Pan can't quite place. Also on hand are the Specters, beings that make cliff-ghasts look like rank amateurs.

Throughout, Pullman is in absolute control of his several worlds, his plot and pace equal to his inspiration. Any number of astonishing scenes--small- and large-scale--will have readers on edge, and many are cause for tears. "You think things have to be possible," Will demands. "Things have to be true!" It is Philip Pullman's gift to turn what quotidian minds would term the impossible into a reality that is both heartbreaking and beautiful
JonnieAngel avatar reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 44 more book reviews
This book is the second of the dark material series. Lyra and Will are introduced to other worlds in different dimensions as they search for Will's lost father. Along the way, they obtain the subtle knife, which can slice through any form of matter. Their journey is hastened and interrupted by the magisterium and others seeking to kill them.

This series is controversial because Lyra and Will are supposed to be Eve and Adam, complete with committing the original sin. According to Pullman, God isn't the ultimate creator. He is a lying angel on a power trip, who just happened to be the first one created from Dust. The children are supposed to kill God, but the moment is rather anti-climactic.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is seeking spiritual enlightenment. Read it as a work of fiction, not a religious text and it is an enjoyable, well written story that makes you think.
reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on + 18 more book reviews
Excellent book. You can't help but fall in love with the characters. This is the second book in the trilogy.
reviewed The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Bk 2) on
This book takes you farther on the adventures of the young heroine- into different worlds-excellent