How long ago was it that I first read Philip Pullman’s wonderful ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy? I have some recollection of reading them at the end of primary school, yet I’m sure my obsession with the series didn’t start until I was a teenager. Working this out is important you see, as I’m trying to calculate how long I’ve been waiting for the upcoming sequel to the series, ‘The Book of Dust’.
A few months ago we finally got some news on the book’s progress, and I could hardly contain my excitement. Turns out ‘The Book of Dust’ will be the umbrella title for a whole new trilogy, with the first instalment ‘La Belle Sauvage’ to be released on the 19th of October.
An exclusive extract from the first volume has since been released, followed by the UK and American covers in the past week. The covers are delightful, true works of art. Designed by British Artist Chris Wormell, and made from a series of intricate woodcuts, they feature a boat upon a stormy sea.
The British cover, my favourite, shows the boat to be the titular ‘La Belle Sauvage’, teasing it’s importance in the upcoming the story. This cover beautifully presents the book’s cover in gold lettering, framed by two small animals (presumably dæmons, belonging to whom I wonder).
As for the extract, I showed a rare feat of restraint and abstained from reading! Initially that is. Browsing in Waterstones the other day, I saw they were giving out little booklets, showing the cover of the upcoming book and containing the sample extract. This proved too much for me, my hatred of spoilers had finally been conquered by Penguin’s marketing department.
The extract is from chapter 10 of the novel, which may seem slightly random, but upon reading this decision proves perfect. The scene manages to perfectly introduce us to a new protagonist; eleven-year-old Malcolm Polstead, reintroduce the familiar character of Lord Asriel, and set up La Belle Sauvage as an integral part of the narrative.
As for the writing style employed in the piece, Pullman has not receded in the slightest. His mastery of words becomes immediately apparent, hooking me within a couple of sentences. And yes, it was his writing style that did this, I went back and checked and nothing of any particular note was going on!
I am sure the days until ‘La Belle Sauvage’, part one of ‘The Book of Dust’ will be slow and painful ones. 19th of October everyone! And for goodness sake, if you haven’t read Pullman’s original trilogy ‘His Dark Materials’, what are you waiting for?