Celebrating Today’s Publication of Philip Pullman’s THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH

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Philip Pullman fans everywhere are celebrating the arrival of THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH, the second volume of Pullman’s new bestselling trilogy The Book of Dust, on sale today from Alfred A. Knopf BFYR. This book marks the return to the parallel world of Pullman’s masterwork The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1).

Set ten years after the events of His Dark Materials, THE SECRET COMMONWEALTH continues the story of Lyra Silvertongue, called “one of fantasy’s most indelible heroines” by The New York Times Magazine. Lyra’s adventures in the North are long over—the windows between the many worlds have been sealed, and her beloved Will is lost to her. She does still have the alethiometer: the truth-telling device given to her by the master of Jordan College, which guided her journey.

Lyra doesn’t know the full story of the alethiometer, though. Or the role that young Malcolm Polstead played in bringing both the instrument and baby Lyra to Jordan. She’s now a twenty-year-old undergraduate at St. Sophia’s College. To her, Malcolm is Dr. Polstead, an overly solicitous professor she would prefer to avoid.

But intrigue is swirling around Lyra once more. Her daemon Pantalaimon is witness to a brutal murder, and the dying man entrusts them with secrets that carry echoes from their past. They learn of a city haunted by daemons, of a desert said to hold the secret of Dust. Powerful forces are about to throw Lyra and Malcolm together once again. And the dangers they face will challenge everything they thought they knew about the world, and about themselves.

In a recent interview in The New Yorker, Pullman talks about how he came to return to his character Lyra: “Well, in the usual way. These stories come to me. I didn’t do it on purpose. I found myself daydreaming a number of events involving Lyra and the people around Lyra. And there was always a kind of a mystery which I hadn’t settled to my own satisfaction in His Dark Materials, which is about the nature of Dust. It has something to do with consciousness, but I didn’t explore that fully, and I’m using this story, among other things, as a way of finding out what I mean by this idea.”

He found out as he began writing: “For me, it’s got to be that way. I couldn’t possibly write a novel if I had to work it all out first. I’m writing into darkness, as it were, not knowing where the story is going or what the characters are going to discover. It’s more exciting like that. I would just be too bored—terminally bored—if I knew everything in advance.”

Fans both old and new are eager for the next chapter in Lyra’s journey, especially as excitement for Pullman’s work intensifies ahead of the November 3 premiere of the HBO and BBC television adaptation of His Dark Materials, starring Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. To watch the trailer, click here.

Philip Pullman is one of the most acclaimed writers working today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. He has also won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for The Golden Compass (and the reader-voted “Carnegie of Carnegies” for the best children’s book of the past seventy years); the Whitbread (now Costa) Award; Parents’ Choice Gold Awards; and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in honor of his body of work. Pullman was knighted for services to literature in the New Years’ Honors in 2019.

Pullman is also the author of many other much-lauded novels. Three volumes related to His Dark Materials: Lyra’s Oxford, Once Upon a Time in the North, and The Collectors. And a new trilogy set in the same world, The Book of Dust, which began with La Belle Sauvage. For younger readers: I Was a Rat!, Count Karlstein, Two Crafty Criminals!, Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. For older readers: the Sally Lockhart quartet (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess), The White Mercedes, and The Broken Bridge.


Posted: October 3, 2019