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The Amber Spyglass
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As the assured, silver-tongued narrator weaving amongst the excellent work of approximately 40 British actors, Pullman extends an impossible-to-refuse invitation to listening adventure on this splendid adaptation of the much-anticipated conclusion to the His Dark Materials trilogy. The author picks up the story of Lyra Belaqua where it left off in The Subtle Knife. In the most provocative installment yet, Lyra finds herself at the center of what is to be the final battle between good and evil she is a target for the Church, which sees her as a threat. But she is also happily re-teamed with Will Parry, the young hero who Lyra eventually recognizes is her soul mate/true love. Throughout, Pullman challenges Christianity and God (who is a craggy old man here, very different from the usual biblical depiction), asking readers to examine the ideas of organized religion. Favorite characters such as Iorek the bear and Lyra's parents, Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter, return, though the introduction of layers of new creatures and new worlds may require more careful listening. As the rich tale unfolds, Pullman's voice elegant with a hint of both whisper and rasp thoroughly enthralls, sounding by turns forceful and tender. The talented, extensive cast gives a dynamic, nearly flawless performance, with highlights that include the youthful and exuberant Lyra and Will (Alison Wyatt and Peter England) and the dramatic, emotional dialogue of angels/companions Baruch (Nigel Carrington) and Balthamos (Alec McCowen). Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 6 Up-With The Amber Spyglass (Knopf, 2000), Philip Pullman completes his epic trilogy, collectively titled, His Dark Materials. The young heroine, Lyra Belacqua, is still battling the evil forces that inhabit the warring fantasy cosmos introduced in The Golden Compass (Knopf ,1996), and continued in The Subtle Knife (Knopf ,1997). In this volume, Lyra is rescued from her often unscrupulous mother by her trusted companion, Will. Will and Lyra endure a perilous journey to the land of the dead, and reconnect with Dr. Mary Malone who has made the all-important spyglass. After encounters with helpful angels, demons and witches, as well as difficulties with clergy and theologians, the pair fulfill their destiny. With this comes a deeper understanding of the dangers to their universe, and eventually, painful, but necessary choices. Pullman does a first class job as narrator of his language-rich text. He is joined by a superb cast of 40 British actors who bring the book's large and diverse array of characters into sharp focus. This fine recording is almost a stage play in a box, and it is a solid purchase for both school and public libraries. Considering the book's 500 plus pages, the recording is likely to be a very popular way for fans both young and old to conclude Pullman's classically-inspired saga.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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