So much lust for the Folio Society edition of His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. Illustrated by Peter Bailey
|—||The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman|
This is never a fair question, but the answer I generally give? The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman.
I just can’t with this book/series, okay. I was in love on the first read, even though that went something like this:
Ursula, age 8: And then the polar bears and the witches and the cowboys all got in a fight with hot air balloons!!
Which led to the amazing/embarrassing revelation, some years later:
Ursula, age 16: And then it was a Biblical allegory??
(I was not a churchgoing child. Maybe most other Americans would have gotten it.)
I am actually about due for a reread, in which I will probably go all Foucault on its ass. Because you know that shit is all about the disciplining of young/brown/female bodies, mmhmm.
But I really think makes this series so wizardly and great is that it doesn’t sacrifice awesome adventures for its really astute thesis on Western religious concepts and the abuses of the Church. Or vice-versa. In fact, you can’t even separate the two! Lyra’s struggle for the steampunk plot MacGuffin is also one for physical, spiritual, intellectual, and sexual autonomy, and I love that so damn much.
I also have a lot of epic bittersweet tragedy antihero feels about…almost every character in the cast of thousands? Fuck.
Lyra, from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
I was having a conversation with hatalie a couple weeks ago, and she said something about why Lyra is such a great character. “It’s because in a book about repression by the Church, her biggest virtues are things considered sinful.” And it’s true! She uses heavily moralized, feminine-coded, weapons of the weak. She lies, she questions authority, she masters the kind of knowledge they value most, and she uses it against them. Just like they were afraid of.
What an utter badass.
From Lyra’s Oxford, by Phillip Pullman
“Clearly he was the superior Bear-King.”