The #1 New York Times Bestseller!
Return to the world of His Dark Materials—now an HBO original series starring Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, Andrew Scott, and Lin-Manuel Miranda—in the second volume of Philip Pullman’s new bestselling masterwork The Book of Dust.
The windows between the many worlds have been sealed and the momentous adventures of Lyra Silvertongue’s youth are long behind her—or so she thought. Lyra is now a twenty-year-old undergraduate at St. Sophia’s College and intrigue is swirling around her 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.
The more Lyra is drawn into these mysteries, the less she is sure of. Even the events of her own past come into question when she learns of Malcolm Polstead’s role in bringing her to Jordan College.
Now Lyra and Malcolm will travel far beyond the confines of Oxford, across Europe and into the Levant, searching for a city haunted by daemons, and a desert said to hold the truth of Dust. The dangers they face will challenge everything they thought they knew about the world, and about themselves.
Praise for The Book of Dust
“It’s a stunning achievement, this universe Pullman has created and continues to build on.” —The New York Times
“Pullman’s writing is simple, unpretentious, beautiful, true. The conclusion to The Book of Dust can’t come soon enough.”—The Washington Post
The Secret Commonwealth is a
majestic return to Lyra’s next chapter with all the
magic, folklore, and fantasy only Philip Pullman can provide.” –
“A big novel full of
big ideas, big characters and big sorrows. . .
This book feels like a response to the darkness of our time.”—NPR
Pullman’s best novel so far. A work of extraordinary depth and humanity.” —
“As always, Pullman’s writing is
simple, unpretentious, beautiful, true. . . . the conclusion to the Book of Dust can’t come soon enough.” —
The Washington Post
“The novel gallops forward,
full of danger, delight and surprise. Pullman is a staggeringly gifted storyteller.” —
“Mr. Pullman’s writing is
clear, clean and forceful, never striving for effect and all the more effective because of it. He’s also a man of ideas, which gives great savor to his work.” –
The Wall Street Journal
Coming back to [Lyra] after all these years is such a profound pleasure that I can do nothing but sit back and watch her charge forward into the night, ready as she always was to remake the world in her own image.”—
“Profound and provocative.” —
The Secret Commonwealth
reasserts Pullman’s affection for the wondrous and those pieces of reality which can be seen only by those willing to see.”—
“These books, and the intellectual debate they produce,
make Lyra’s world feel more lived-in than ever before.” —
“Not only is it worthy second installment in The Book of Dust trilogy, it continues to prove this sequence will be
every bit as excellent as His Dark Materials.”
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 books of all time by
Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by
Entertainment Weekly. Pullman was knighted for his services to literature in the 2019 New Year Honours.
The Book of Dust, Pullman’s eagerly anticipated return to the world of His Dark Materials, will also be a book in three parts. It began with
La Belle Sauvage and continues with
The Secret Commonwealth.
Philip Pullman is the author of many other beloved novels. 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. He has written a magnificent collection,
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, and his essays and lectures on writing and storytelling have been gathered in a volume called
Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling.
Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England.
Little Clarendon Street had been adopted by Oxford’s jeunesse dorée as a fashionable destination. Expensive clothes shops, chic coffeehouses, cocktail bars, and colored anbaric lights strung overhead made it seem like a corner of another city altogether—Malcolm couldn’t have known what made tears come to Lyra’s eyes at that point, though he did notice the tears: it was her memory of the deserted Cittàgazze, all the lights blazing, empty, silent, magical, where she had first met Will. She brushed them away and said nothing.
He led the way to a mock-Italian café with candles in straw-wrapped wine bottles and red-checked tablecloths and travel posters in splashy colors. Lyra looked around warily.
“It’s safe here,” Malcolm said quietly. “There are other places where it’s risky to talk, but there’s no danger in La Luna Caprese.”
He ordered a bottle of Chianti, asking Lyra first if that was what she’d like, and she nodded.
When the wine was tried and poured, she said, “I’ve got to tell you something. I’ll try and keep it clear in my head. And now I know about you and your dæmon, it’s something I can tell you, but no one else. Only I’ve heard so many things in the last couple of days and my mind’s in a whirl, so please, if I don’t make sense, just stop me and I’ll go over it again.”
She began with Pan’s experience on the Monday night, the attack, the murder, the man giving him the wallet to take to Lyra. Malcolm listened in astonishment, though he felt no skepticism: such things happened, as he knew well. But one thing seemed odd.
“The victim and his dæmon knew about separating?” he said.
“Yes,” said Pan at Lyra’s elbow. “They weren’t shocked, like most people would be. In fact, they could separate too. She must have seen me up the tree when he was being attacked, and thought it would be all right to trust me, I suppose.”
“So Pan brought the wallet back to me at St. Sophia’s . . . ,” Lyra went on.
“And that was when Asta saw me,” Pan put in.
“. . . but other things got in the way, and we didn’t have a chance to look at it till the next morning.”
She pulled her bag up to her lap and took out the wallet, passing it to him unobtrusively. He noticed Pan’s tooth marks, and noticed the smell too, which Pan had called cheap cologne, though it seemed to Malcolm something other than that, something wilder. He opened the wallet and took out the contents one by one as she spoke. The Bodleian card, the university staff card, the diplomatic papers, all so familiar; his own wallet had held very similar papers in its time.
“He was coming back to Oxford, I think,” Lyra said, “because if you look at the laissez-passers, you can trace his journey from Sin Kiang to here. He’d probably have gone on to the Botanic Garden, if they hadn’t attacked him.”
Malcolm caught another faint trace of the scent on the wallet. He raised it to his nose, and something distant rang like a bell, or gleamed like the sun on a snowy mountaintop, just for the fraction of a second, and then it was gone.
“Did he say anything else, the man who was killed?”
He addressed the question to Pan, and Pan thought hard before saying, “No. He couldn’t. He was nearly dead. He made me take the wallet out of his pocket and told me to take it to Lyra—I mean, he didn’t know her name, but he said to take it to your . . . I think he thought we could be trusted because he knew about separating.”
“Have you taken this to the police?”
“Of course. That was almost the first thing we did next morning,” Lyra said. “But when we were waiting in the police station, Pan heard one of the policemen speak.”
“He was the first killer, the one who wasn’t wounded,” said Pan. “I recognized his voice. It was very distinctive.”
“So we asked about something quite different and then left,” Lyra went on. “We just thought we shouldn’t give the wallet to the very man who’d killed him.”
“Sensible,” said Malcolm.
“Oh, and there’s another thing. The man who was cut on the leg. He’s called Benny Morris.”
“How d’you know that?”
“I know someone who works at the mail depot, and I asked him if there was anyone there who’d hurt his leg. He said yes, there was a big ugly man called Benny Morris, who sounds just like the man we saw.”
“And what then?”
“In the wallet,” Lyra said carefully, “there was a left-luggage key—you know, the sort you get with those lockers at the station.”
“What did you do with that?”
“I thought we ought to go and get whatever was in it. So—”
“Don’t tell me you
“Yes. Because he’d sort of entrusted it to us, the wallet, and what was in it. So we thought we ought to go and look after it before the men who killed him realized and went to look for it themselves.”
“The killers knew he had some sort of luggage,” said Pan, “because they kept asking each other if he’d had a bag, if he’d dropped it, were they sure they hadn’t seen it, and so on. As if they’d been told to expect one.”
“And what was in the locker?” said Malcolm.
“A rucksack,” Lyra said. “Which is under the floorboards in my room in Jordan.”
“It’s there now?”
He picked up his glass and drained it in one, and then stood up. “Let’s go and get it. While it’s there, you’re in great danger, Lyra, and that’s no exaggeration. Come on.”