Review: The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials #3) by Philip Pullman

Title:  The Amber Spyglass
Author:  Philip Pullman
Series:  His Dark Materials #3
Publisher:  Yearling, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date:  January 1, 1999
Pages:  518
Format/Source:  Paperback/Purchased

Age Group/Genre:  Middle Grade/Fantasy

In the astonishing finale to the His Dark Materials trilogy, Lyra and Will are in unspeakable danger. With help from Iorek Byrnison the armored bear and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a dank and gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone. All the while, Dr. Mary Malone builds a magnificent Amber Spyglass. An assassin hunts her down, and Lord Asriel, with a troop of shining angels, fights his mighty rebellion, in a battle of strange allies—and shocking sacrifice.

As war rages and Dust drains from the sky, the fate of the living—and the dead—finally comes to depend on two children and the simple truth of one simple story. (Book cover and synopsis from Goodreads)

*Warning:  This is the third book in a series.  While I really don’t like spoilers, you might find some slight Book 1 and 2 spoilers in this review.*

NOT a Simple Story…

Yeah, so I’d like to disagree with that last sentence in the synopsis above–this is NOT a simple story.  In fact, I’m still not sure I understood it all. Granted, it did take me a long time to finish this last book, and I also read a few other books while reading it, so that could definitely be why I might not understand it as well as if I had read them all back to back in a shorter period of time.

I did enjoy the story, but not as much as the second book in the series, The Subtle Knife.  I think the story all came together and had a nice conclusion, although I don’t think I was as invested in the story as I should have been. And I was happy that there were finally major things happening in this book, but they didn’t seem as dire as I would have liked.  Once again, it might be because I read other things at the same time, or because I took a lot of time reading the series.

WTH Moments…

I’m stealing this “WTH Moments” from Steph at The Fake Steph Dot Com–just temporarily–because there were several of those moments for me in The Amber Spyglass.  First of all, Iorek–I love you.  Why you gotta do gross stuff like eat your dead friend?  That’s messed up.  Also, does Preemptive Penance actually exist?  Because that is seriously crazy shiz.  Also, at one point, Pullman uses the word “Lyratic” to describe something that Lyra does. I don’t even know what to say about that…

Great Quotes…

Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Amber Spyglass:

“She had never known such silence, not even in the snow-blanketed Arctic; there was not a stir of wind, and the sea was so still that not the tiniest ripple broke on the sand; the world seemed suspended between breathing in and breathing out.

“Lyra shivered.  She felt as if her skin had turned into lace and the damp and bitter air could flow in and out of her ribs, scaldingly cold on the raw wound where Pantalaimon had been.

“She looked at him for a long time, at the little pulse in his throat, at his chest rising and falling slowly, at the delicate shadows his eyelashes made when the sun finally reached them.”

“It was one of those moments when we suddenly recall a dream that we’ve unaccountably forgotten, and back in a flood comes all the emotion we felt in our sleep.”

“‘For the first time ever I felt I was doing something with all of my nature and not only a part of it.'”

My rating for The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman:

3 stars.  Maybe 3 1/2.  I do think, however, that I will read the series again someday and I’ll definitely try to read them all back to back and in a relatively short period of time, that way I might understand everything a bit better.
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.

This book was read and reviewed as part of the His Dark Materials Readalong, hosted by myself and Jessie from The Daily Bookmark.


  1. fakesteph

    November 11, 2012 at 12:09 am

    You can steal my wtf moments whenever you want. :) Sometimes you just gotta have them. I don't remember Iorek eating his dead friend? I should reread this. I *think* I'll finally have some time in December… maybe. uhg, school. And if I remember right, The Subtle Knife was my favorite because I loved Will, the ending to this one made my heart hurt, and the first one is the one I've reread the most.

  2. pagesunbound

    November 12, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Well, preemptive penance is definitely not a thing in the Catholic Church. I can't say about every religion in the world.

  3. Uomo di Speranza

    December 5, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I actually am planning to read this one in a few weeks, so this review was really helpful. Like you, I've read this series over a really long period of time, and it truly does diminish some of the urgency–I know that the second book wasn't really riveting for me until about halfway through. Nevertheless, it does look like a great book overall…especially with Pullman's affinity for cool names. Iorek? So narely-sounding!

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