The Book of Dust

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The Book of Dust
The Book of Dust.jpg
AuthorPhilip Pullman
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesThe Book of Dust
Publication date
19 October 2017 (1st volume)

The Book of Dust is a trilogy of fantasy novels by Philip Pullman, which expands his trilogy His Dark Materials. The books further chronicle the adventures of Lyra Belacqua and her battle against the theocratic organisation known as the Magisterium, and shed more light on the mysterious substance called Dust.

The first book, La Belle Sauvage, was published in October 2017, and is set 12 years before Northern Lights. It describes how the 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead and the 15-year-old Alice protect the infant Lyra; leading to her being in the care of Jordan College. It introduces the research by academics and other free-thinkers into Dust, a mysterious subatomic particle related to consciousness, and the origins of Lyra's alethiometer.[1]

The second book, The Secret Commonwealth, was published on 3 October 2019 and is set after the events in the original trilogy with Lyra as a twenty-year-old undergraduate.[2] As of 3 October 2019, work on the third book in the series had not commenced. Pullman said the trilogy addresses consciousness: "Perhaps the oldest philosophical question of all: are we matter? Or are we spirit and matter? What is consciousness if there is no spirit? Questions like that are of perennial fascination and they haven’t been solved yet, thank goodness."[3] He added that the series might be slightly darker than the original, and quipped that it could alternatively be titled "His Darker Materials".[3]

History of the trilogy[edit]

Pullman conceived The Book of Dust before the publication of Lyra's Oxford in 2003.[4][5] On his website in April 2005, he wrote that the book was "under way".[6] In 2007, he described it as "a big, big book".[7] In a 2009 interview with Oxford University newspaper Cherwell, Pullman stated that The Book of Dust was "growing" but that he was "encountering complexities that seem to be making it longer than I thought it would be."[8] In 2011, Pullman said that he was considering writing The Book of Dust in two volumes, one set before His Dark Materials and the other set afterwards.[9] In September 2012, Pullman told the BBC that The Book of Dust was now his focus and that he had written 220 pages.[10] In December, he told Wired that he had cleared 2013 and most of 2014 to write the book.[11] In May 2016, he said he had vowed to not cut his hair until it was complete.[12]

On 14 February 2017, Pullman said that The Book of Dust would be a new trilogy, and announced the publication of the first novel, La Belle Sauvage,[13] published on 19 October 2017.[14] The books are jointly published by Random House Children's and David Fickling Books in the United Kingdom, and by Random House Children's Books in the US.[15]


The Book of Dust takes place before, during and after the original trilogy; Pullman described it as an "equel", rather than a sequel, which "will begin and end with Lyra".[16] In Pullman's words the story's main focus is: “the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and enquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free”.[3] The books will touch on research into Dust, the cosmic matter that governs consciousness.[1] Pullman said the trilogy addresses consciousness: "Perhaps the oldest philosophical question of all: are we matter? Or are we spirit and matter? What is consciousness if there is no spirit? Questions like that are of perennial fascination and they haven’t been solved yet, thank goodness.”[3]

La Belle Sauvage[edit]

The first book, La Belle Sauvage, was published on 19 October 2017.[14] Set around 11 years before the His Dark Materials trilogy, the story follows 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon Asta, and a village girl named Alice and her dæmon Ben, who become the protectors of the infant Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, in Malcolm's canoe, La Belle Sauvage, during a flood. Malcolm forms a friendship with alethiometer specialist Hannah Relf, allied with the secret freedom-seeking organisation Oakley Street, and is drawn into their fight against the growing strength of the Magisterium, which has learned of a prophecy concerning Lyra. Malcolm and Alice are pursued by the maniacal villain Gerard Bonneville, an ally of the Consistorial Court of Discipline (CCD), as they struggle to reach London and Lyra's father Lord Asriel, in order to gain the protection of Jordan College for the baby.[3]

The Secret Commonwealth[edit]

The second volume, The Secret Commonwealth, was published on 3 October 2019, and begins with Lyra as a 20-year-old undergraduate. It involves her journeying to the Far East via the Levant.[3][17][18][19][20] The Secret Commonwealth takes its title from a compilation of folklore by Robert Kirk that Pullman has said is one of his favourite books.[19]

The third book[edit]

During a launch event for The Secret Commonwealth in October 2019, Pullman said, "We can see where the story is going in this book. It's going towards Central Asia, it involves roses and it involves Dust. That's all I can tell you⁠—I don't even have a title for it yet!"[19][21] In an interview with Spanish magazine El Templo de las Mil Puertas (The Temple of a Thousand Doors), in April 2018, Pullman had speculated that possible titles included The Garden of Roses or Roses from the South.[22] A first short excerpt of the future first chapter has been shared as part of an interview on the blog of the Goldsmiths, University of London.[23]


  1. ^ a b Kean, Danuta (14 February 2017). "Philip Pullman unveils epic fantasy trilogy The Book of Dust". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Philip Pullman - Shop Item".
  3. ^ a b c d e f Flood, Alison (18 October 2017). "Philip Pullman launches La Belle Sauvage and says sequel is finished". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  4. ^ Thorpe (6 April 2003). "Pullman brings back Lyra for Oxford". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Mitchison, Amanda (3 November 2003). "The art of darkness". London: The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 19 November 2003. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  6. ^ "April message". April 2005. Archived from the original on 16 October 2005. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  7. ^ Fleming, Tom (3 August 2007). "A very grown-up children's author". London: The Guardian Unlimited Arts Blog. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Oxford's Cherwell Interviews: Philip Pullman". Cherwell. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  9. ^ Brown, Helen (17 October 2011). "Page in the Life: Philip Pullman". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 March 2012.
  10. ^ "BBC News: Philip Pullman turns to Grimm task". BBC. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  11. ^ "Philip Pullman Is Planning on Going Silent". Wired. 27 December 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  12. ^ Nicolette Jones (6 May 2016). "Philip Pullman interview: 'I've always loved comics – now I'm writing one'". The Telegraph.
  13. ^ "Author Philip Pullman Announces A Follow-Up Trilogy To 'His Dark Materials'". Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  14. ^ a b "First Book of Dust novel to be called 'La Belle Sauvage'". The Bookseller. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  15. ^ "Long-awaited Philip Pullman series The Book of Dust revealed". The Bookseller. Retrieved 15 February 2017.
  16. ^ Saner, Emine (17 February 2017). "The Book of Dust: after 17 years, Pullman's latest work has new relevance". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Philip Pullman's Dark Materials spin-off Secret Commonwealth gets release date". Digital Spy. 14 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2018.
  18. ^ O'Kelly, Lisa (22 October 2017). "Philip Pullman: 'My daemon is a raven, a bird that steals things'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  19. ^ a b c Elmhirst, Sophie (12 October 2017). "Philip Pullman Returns to His Fantasy World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  20. ^ hermes (24 October 2017). "His Dark Materials universe draws Philip Pullman back for new trilogy". The Straits Times. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Philip Pullman reveals inspiration behind Secret Commonwealth at sold-out launch". 3 October 2019. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  22. ^ Marco, Nerea; Echevarría, Carlota; Reyna, Pablo C. (April 2018), "Entrevista a Philip Pullman", El Templo de las Mil Puertas, pp. 20–21, retrieved 12 September 2020CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  23. ^ "Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Blog (at time of citation halfway down the page)". Retrieved 3 January 2022.