The Book of Dust
|Series||The Book of Dust|
|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.
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. 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." He added that the series might be slightly darker than the original, and quipped that it could alternatively be titled "His Darker Materials".
History of the trilogy
Pullman conceived The Book of Dust before the publication of Lyra's Oxford in 2003. On his website in April 2005, he wrote that the book was "under way". In 2007, he described it as "a big, big book". 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." 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. In September 2012, Pullman told the BBC that The Book of Dust was now his focus and that he had written 220 pages. In December, he told Wired that he had cleared 2013 and most of 2014 to write the book. In May 2016, he said he had vowed to not cut his hair until it was complete.
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, published on 19 October 2017. 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.
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". 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”. The books will touch on research into Dust, the cosmic matter that governs consciousness. 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.”
La Belle Sauvage
The first book, La Belle Sauvage, was published on 19 October 2017. 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.
The Secret Commonwealth
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. The Secret Commonwealth takes its title from a compilation of folklore by Robert Kirk that Pullman has said is one of his favourite books.
The third book
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!" 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. 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.
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