We pick up the story as Will begins tracking down the kidnapped Lyra with the help of the angels Baruch and Balthamos. She is in the hands of Mrs Coulter and is hidden away in a Himalayan cave, safely kept asleep by a potion administered by her mother.
We also get to follow Dr Mary Malone, who is set to be Lyra’s “tempter”. Mary leaves her world, in a very similar way to Will – running from the law and from Sir Charles Latrom – and passes through Cittàgazze into the world of the Mulefa where she stays and learns more about Dust.
We meet Iorek Byrnison again as he assists Will to recover Lyra from her mother. His skills as a warrior as well as a master metal-smith come in useful once again. We also get to meet the Gallivespians in this story. Reminiscent of, but deadlier than the Lilliputians, these are tiny spys for Lord Asriel. They play an important supporting role in this final book.
Lyra and Will go through the trials and wonderment of growing up – albeit in a much harsher manner than the real world, including a trip to the land of the dead. And eventually they end up in the world of the Mulefa and with Mary Malone.
I won’t spoil the opportunity to read the whole trilogy by telling you the outcome, so you will have to Wikipedia it if you want the spoilers.
As for my final thoughts on the series; it was certainly worth reading. I enjoyed most of the books with very few reservations. I know I could have poked holes in certain aspects of it if I really tried, but why would you want to try? That just takes the joy out of reading for pleasure.
One of my favourite parts in this particular book was the concept of having your own personal death, rather in the same manner as Lyra has a visible dæmon. Also appealing was the idea of generating really good true stories throughout your life in order to tell the Harpies in the land of the Dead as payment for being released.
As much as I enjoyed these three books, I am not comfortable with the trilogy being number three on the BBC Top 200 list. It doesn’t rate up there with Tolkien and Austen. Sorry. It just doesn’t. But if you want something different to try, then I can recommend it. I may now venture into the Young Adult section again for Philip Pullman’s other offerings, just for a bit of light reading.