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So, I finished HDM last night.

Dear Mr. Pullman,
You wrote a great series. The plot's pretty good, but it's only "pretty good" because you share a genre with Jo Rowling--in any other genre I'd call it "excellent". You violated the tabloid weird rule ("Either the FBI is hunting the escaped mutant from the genetics lab, or the drill-bit has bored straight into Hell -- but not both at once in the very same piece of fiction") without losing consistency, which is fairly impressive.  I adored the anti-religious bits, but I would.  You got me to fall in love with Will and Lyra, which is pretty impressive for non-intellectual characters.  I now consider you someone who doesn't get enough attention for his work.

(Incidentally, Pullman: Your book is not merely anti-Church; it's also anti-religious, otherwise you wouldn't have written the Authority's backstory the way you did.  Be proud of what your book is, not ashamed of it!)

But.

You need to learn that there's nothing wrong with a happy ending.  Really, I swear there isn't.  After you put your characters through hell, at the end of the last book it's alright to give them rewards tempered only with the pain of the journey taken to get to them.  You don't have to give and then take away.  I'm sure you have all sorts of thematic reasons to do it, but they don't change the fact that it tampers with my enjoyment of the story, which isn't a good thing.  I was spoiled for the ending, so I could prepare myself; if I hadn't been, I might have set the series aside and never read it again.  Which I never do.

That's basically my only quibble.  Pat yourself on the back--but put a thumbpin between your fingers before the last pat.  Cause that's what it's like.

--Me.

Anyway, I'm not gonna do what he did. Wide Awake will have an ending where all the surviving good guys get to be happy. I swear it.

Will/Lyra is now officially added to my ship list, but I always knew it would be.  I'll probably slot in a re-read after Potter; I can sense a whole lot of shared influences that lead to plot similarities, and I want to see how many I can elucidate.

Comments

( Read 4 comments — Leave a comment )
caduceuskun
Dec. 1st, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC)
I was about to exclaim astonishment that you finished it already, but I went and looked at my collected edition, and it's really not as long as I thought it was. I'm surprised you hadn't read it already, though.

Now if Pullman would just write something else worth reading...
acdragonmaster
Dec. 1st, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
Mm... when I originally read the series (which granted, was back when it first came out, but still), Golden Compass was great. It was interesting and original and just hinting at dark overtones. Subtle Knife was alright, but kinda suffering from the whole middle volume in a trilogy effect, so it can be forgiven. Amber Spyglass... did not live up to what Golden Compass started. It plummetted into my biggest gripe about modern fantasy- stories where the author forces the plot to be preachy about some message or another, rather than letting it naturally flow and tell what it will. I admire subtlety, and stories that are allowed to write themselves, rather than being written with an agenda in mind, and generally tend to have a lot of gripes in that regard with a lot of modern fantasy.

But then again, I was introduced to "fantasy" back when I was learning to read through outright fairy tales like Narnia, and through classics like Lord of the Rings, so maybe I'm just spoiled or something.
caduceuskun
Dec. 1st, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC)
So by "fantasy" you mean "Christian allegories?"

Don't get me wrong, I love Narnia beyond all reason, and am a big LOTR fan too, but they're just as heavy handed as Amber Spyglass, so I'm a little confused as to what you're trying to say here.
acdragonmaster
Dec. 1st, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
Nope. Narnia I specifically called a "fairy tale", and that wasn't accidental. C. S. Lewis did base it off of Christian ideas, but instead of being specifically preachy and such, he decided to play with "what ifs"- what if there were a world created and inhabited by talking animals instead of people, and God appeared them in the form of a lion rather than a man? There's similar themes in his "Space Trilogy" books, and that whole idea is very much not commonly accepted thinking in most Christian writing. It's presumptuous, isn't it, assuming that you can speculate on what God would do? So no. Narnia is a fairy tale that has inherently Christian overtones, but is a fairy tale first.

Lord of the Rings... Tolkien was a linguistic. He made languages first, cultures second, and the story came out of it. He didn't intend the Lord of the Rings to be allegorical, he differed with some of his colleagues in that he didn't believe that being a Christian author meant that you ought to write inherently Christian works. Did some of his worldview seep in anyway? Probably. But it wasn't his intent.

Oppose this to much of what is written today, where instead of setting out to write a story first, the author sets out to preach first, and forces the story to comply. Amber Spyglass had amazing potential, but for the fact that the latter parts, frankly, felt forced. It ceased to be a story where the characters made their choices, and become a puppet show where the author made the choices for them. Had it been approached even a little differently, it could have still had the same story, the same ending, even the same message, but been subtle, letting it weave in underneath and permeating everything, rather than being a rigid outline that all is forced to comply to. Amber Spyglass disappoints not for its content, but for the way in which it was expressed.
( Read 4 comments — Leave a comment )