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La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage

Book - 2017
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Shares the story of how Lyra Belacqua and her daemon Pantalaimon came to be living at Jordan College.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, [2017]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780553510744
Call Number: TEEN SF PULL
Characteristics: 449 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Pullman demonstrates that his talent for world building hasn’t diminished, nor has his ability to draw young characters—here, Malcolm, who is layered enough to carry an adventure through multiple dimensions. —Booklist

Not quite sequel or prequel but equal to His Dark Materials trilogy, this book takes place a dozen years before the events of The Golden Compass and features some of the same characters.

From the critics

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Mar 28, 2020

11 years before the events of The Golden Compass, Malcolm Polstead is the son of an inkeeper who is very good at observing and listening. When the nuns in the priory across the river take in a baby named Lyra (later the protagonist of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy), Malcolm finds that this baby has excited a lot of interest, some of it from some very dangerous parties. Malcolm finds himself spying for Dr. Hannah Relf of Oxford, and when the flood of the century buries southern England in water, he finds himself rescuing Lyra and carrying her down the river in his canoe, La Belle Sauvage, on a grand and fantastical adventure.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It made me want to reread The Golden Compass and its sequels, as it's been a while since I've read them and the book pulled me right back into the world. Readers familiar with the His Dark Materials trilogy will enjoy the book more, as there are numerous familiar faces that show up. The ending was somewhat less than satisfying, but it is the first book of a trilogy, so I'll definitely give the other books a chance to fix that when they come out.

Dec 30, 2019

As a big fan of the Dark Matters trilogy, I want disappointed in this prequel of Lyra as a baby being saved by young Malcolm and Alice.

PimaLib_ChristineR Dec 08, 2019

I'll begin by saying that you don't have to have read the His Dark Materials trilogy to enjoy this novel. While it does give my spine a tingle to read about his characters in their younger versions, Pullman lets this series stand alone.

La Belle Sauvage is the name of Malcolm Polstead's boat. Malcolm is the 11-year-old son of the local innkeeper, and Alice is their 15-year-old servant. And it is through Malcolm that we meet the baby Lyra. Many characters from His Dark Materials make their way through the area, trying to find Lyra. It's unclear to Malcolm who wants to help her and who is there to make sure she never takes her first steps.

It's hard to pinpoint one thing that makes this first entry in The Book of Dust trilogy so outstanding. Pullman makes it look easy so I know it was hard. He tells the story as Malcolm experiences it without oversimplifying or patronizing Malcolm or the reader. As Malcolm and Alice go through trials together, their blossoming relationship is sweet without being cloying and has some of the elements you'd expect from an 11-year-old boy. While the first half sets the stage, the second half is all action and Pullman is as good at a heart-pounding sequence as he is about the thoughtful still moments.

A perfect balance of plot and character, La Belle Sauvage will carry you safely back, or for the first time, to Pullman's alternate dystopian/fantasy reality. Take an umbrella.

Dec 19, 2018

plot - "fantasy" a gripping tale with a few ominous prophecies thrown in.

kristina_rad Aug 15, 2018

Returning to the world of Phillip Pullman is a treat. As a teen I devoured the Golden Compass and the rest of His Dark Materials, now having a chance to return and meet a new cast with glimpses of familiar characters was awesome. You instantly become connected to Malcolm, his adventurous and curious spirit, his innate goodness and sense of what is right and true. His adventure is not an easy one and he becomes a great new hero. I know this is a children's book, but as an adult I am hooked. Can't wait for what's next!

ArapahoeKara Jul 11, 2018

If you're a fan of Pullman's Golden Compass, you'll enjoy this return to the world of Dust and daemons set at the time of Lyra's birth. As always, Pullman writes beautifully, and though this tale unfolds slowly, it's the kind you'll savor.

Jun 02, 2018

This was the first book I'd read by Pullman. My favourite character is Malcolm. Such an inquisitive, bright little boy he is. I am looking forward to reading the second book. ☆☆☆☆☆ - Lyla

May 09, 2018

A wonderful prequel to His Dark Materials series. Makes me want to go back and re-read the other three.

LPL_KimberlyL Apr 19, 2018

This is set in the same universe as Pullman's much-beloved His Dark Materials series, but La Belle Sauvage (or, The Book of Dust) stands entirely on its own. The first part of the novel reads almost like an exciting spy thriller - full of deception, mystery, and the ever-looming threat of flood. The second part is where this book truly excels, though. The tone completely changes, the world becomes even more magical and improbable, and the true Odyssey-like adventure begins. This is a magnificent start to a brand-new trilogy, and I am hooked. (Michael Sheen narrates the audiobook, and it is fabulous!)

ReadingAdviser_Sally Apr 10, 2018

What a fantastic journey back into the fantastical world of Dust and Lyra and alethiometer!

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Jan 17, 2018

booknrrd thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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ReadingAdviser_Sally Apr 05, 2018

"It shouldn't be about how we feel- guilty, feeble-

No it's about what wrong and less wrong. Bad and less bad."


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