The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife is the second book in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

We begin this story by meeting Will Parry and his mother.  Will lives in our world, and has some serious issues to deal with.  Not the least of these is causing the death of a man who has broken into his house.

In his flight from the police Will finds his way into another world through a “window”.   We find out a little later that this is Cittàgazze, and it is here that he meets Lyra.
Along with Will and Lyra’s story, this volume follows the story of Serafina Pekkala and the witches as well as Lee Scoresby’s quest to find Stanislaus Grumman.

Will and Lyra spend time in Will’s Oxford and meet Sir Charles Latrom and Dr Mary Malone.  These meetings are the turning points in the trilogy.  Sir Charles sends them on the quest for the subtle knife, while Mary is introduced in preparation for the third book.

By the end of this volume we are left wanting to know the resolution of each storyline.   The book is well written and in parts gripping.  It does not shy away from unpleasantness and nor does the author coddle all of the main characters through to a happy ending.

There is still quite a bit of plot set-up to get through, but it is done in such a way that we are able to get to know the characters reasonably well.  The plot progresses and the characters get more interesting. This all hangs together nicely.

All in all, this is a good sequel.  It has pace, it has depth and you certainly want to know where it is all going to end up.  If you start the series, you will really want to continue through.

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