Thursday, January 19, 2017

Philip Pullman's "The Amber Spyglass": Audiobook Review

"Tell them true stories"
What did you love best about The Amber Spyglass?
I loved the evocation of the underworld of the dead souls. Philip Pullman may draw inevitably from Homer, Virgil, Dante and Milton, but he uses these venerable sources well. He reshapes his last volume of His Dark Materials to expand his vision of the cosmology that promises a second chance at Eden, if one tempered by realities not even fantasy can avoid.

What did you like best about this story?
The boatman's warnings as he ferries certain characters across to the land of the dead remains haunting and moving. It channels classical motifs inventively and engagingly.

What does Philip Pullman and full cast bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Again, the range of voices makes the slower parts (and there are many, alas) move along. If I'd have just read this novel, I might not have pressed on through the particularly perfunctory parts often involving a character returned from the second installment, Mary Malone. Also, the disjointed nature of much of this plot challenges patience, even if moments glimmer.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
Adversary or Authority: who do you love?

Any additional comments?
Like even the beloved Tolkien, fellow don Pullman falters when he tries to wrap up his trilogy. The climax happens well before the end, and a particular character's fate is almost an aside, barely seen, when other writers would've made this a blockbuster showdown. Pullman elaborated so much earlier that too much of this feels didactic and not adventurous. Still, despite the structural clunk, his characters can tug at your heartstrings and even the walk-on parts evince the author's profound humanism and the Keatsian "negative capability" at work. (Audible US 1/16/17)

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