The Amber Spyglass (2000)

The Amber Spyglass Review

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The Amber Spyglass Review

The Amber Spyglass is a 2000 fantasy novel written by Philip Pullman. It is the third and final chapter in the His Dark Materials trilogy.

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I stopped believing there was a power of good

and a power of evil that were outside us.

And I came to believe that good and evil are names

for what people do, not for what they ares

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The Amber Spyglass Review

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I liked this entry in the end. I definitely thought that the series never recaptured the strength of the first book as the second and third one are much weaker, but I found this to be a solid conclusion to a really entertaining story. The Amber Spyglass is definitely overly ambitious as it follows too many subplots, characters and story arcs, but even though it is uneven in many of them, most stories are well crafted and the vastness of space witnessed here is truly extraordinary.
The character development is actually quite good. I still do think that Lyra was just never as great as she had been in ‘Northern Lights’, but here she is certainly better than she was in ‘The Subtle Knife’ as she got a bigger role. The most fascinating chapters were her sexual awakening chapters. Very progressive and ultimately bold. Will is superb and one of my favorite characters in the entire series. I loved him here and he remained a flawed, yet incredibly thoughtful and likable kid throughout.
Lord Asriel is forgettable and he was unfortunately really de-emphasized in this installment. Marisa Coulter, on the other hand, is great and I really liked how she eventually came to love Lyra and changed to the good side because of her.

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The Amber Spyglass Review

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Metatron is underutilized, but Balthamos is memorable as this gay angel, although his presence and importance was never totally clear to me. Mary Malone is very likable and possibly even too likable, but Mulefa as these crazy but sympathetic creatures were quite heartwarming and I loved their relationship.
Of all the storylines, Lyra and Will’s part is certainly the best with the underworld passages being the most fascinating this time around. The Mary Malone and Mulefa storyline was certainly very charming, but it almost felt like a detour at some points. And all of the other parts felt weaker in comparison with the exception of some Coulter’s chapters which were quite well executed.
As I said before, The Amber Spyglass is thoroughly uneven and it takes its time to get there owing to a somewhat abrupt, yet slow and uninvolving start. But the ending truly is fantastic. Will and Lyra’s love story is somewhat clichéd plus some of the dialogue was ridiculous, but still they are very charming together and the last two chapters were immensely emotional, epic in scope and with tragic, bittersweet tone to it. It really ended on a high note and thus lifted this story to greater heights.

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The Amber Spyglass Review

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Philip Pullman’s writing is solid, but I never thought that he could write dialogue particularly well. His descriptions are admittedly very good, but the dialogue not so much. I also thought that the entire series isn’t as thematically rich as the critics have been constantly pointing out. It is sometimes quite sophisticated, but it’s mostly just a good, entertaining story and rarely being more than that. The emotion is there and the characters are very well established, but still there were too many characters here and some never got their moments to shine. The book is overly ambitious and rarely succeeding in its epic scope as it was supposed to do. I thought that it should have been longer as well.
In the end, even though it is a highly uneven conclusion which is overly ambitious, I still really liked The Amber Spyglass mostly because of its immensely emotional and satisfactory ending, a fair share of really entertaining and memorable chapters, very good character development and a vast variety of settings included.

My Rating – 3.9

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