Book Review: “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials is a fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman consisting of Northern Lights, the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass.



In a world where every person has an animal companion called daemon to which they’re strongly telepathically connected, a girl called Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon, who live in Jordan College where they have been given shelter, witness the attempted murder of Lord Asriel, Lyra’s uncle, by the Master for mysterious reasons that are connected to a very powerful substance called Dust. Soon they will discover strange instruments, odd materials and an evil organisation, in an intricate universe where nothing is ever how it seems.



Lyra Belaqua: 

A 12 year old girl with a mischievous personality and good ability at lying, is the protagonist of the novel; she has the unique ability to read the alethiometer, the instrument of truth that works through Dust, a mysterious element found in daemons and this is the reason for which she will be considered so important in her world.


Lyra’s daemon is cautious and level-headed, in opposition to Lyra’s spontaneous and almost wild personality. Like every child’s daemon it can change shape to its liking, but after Lyra’s puberty he will become a pin martel. 

Will Parry:

A sensible, polite and independent 12 year old from an alternative universe to Lyra’s, he has coped with many difficulties in his life, having a possibility of redemption after meeting Lyra. He first appears in the “Subtle Knife”.

Lord Asriel:

Lyra’s uncle, he wants to research Dust and make an army to destroy the forces of the Magisterium.

Marisa Coulter:

Manipulative and unscrupulous, she kidnaps children to experiment on them, causing permanent damage to them and their daemons through a practice known as intercision.  

Mary Malone:

Physicist with an immense curiosity for Dust and its relation to the universe, she researches it by travelling to several alternative universes, including the one of the Mulefas where she invents the amber spyglass, which makes Dust visible to the human eye.

Lee Scoresby:

Balloonist who helps on several occasions both Lyra and Will, he has a relaxed and strongly ethical personality.

Iorek Byrnison:

Skillful warrior and armorsmith, he’s an armoured polar bear and a loyal ally to Lyra; he gives the girl, thanks to her good ability at lying and making up stories, the nickname of Lyra Silvertongue.

Serafina Pekkalla:

The beautiful queen of the witch clan of Lake Enara, she helps both Lyra and Will throughout their journey. 

John Faa:

Valorous warrior and lord of the western Gyptians, he is strongly respected by his followers and helps Lyra a great deal by rescuing the children that were kidnapped to experiment intercision.


Lyra’s best friend and mason at Jordan’s college.


Opinions and Recommendations:

We think this is a truly gripping and fascinating trilogy, mainly thanks to its original worldbuilding, its unforgettable characters and its complex yet fascinating plot. We would recommend this book to all fans of fantasy books, in particular those who enjoy specifically fresh books, in terms of universe and characters, that are far away from cliches; another interesting thing about this book it’s the originality of the elements that make up its universe, for example Dust and daemons, and the way in which they are explored, an almost scientific way.


Here there’s a list of books similar to His Dark Materials that we also enjoyed:

  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Shadow & Bone
  • Eragon 
  • Dune