The highly anticipated October publication of Philip Pullman’s The Book of Dust was announced February 14th of this year as a work in three parts, like the acclaimed author’s His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass). Today, an exclusive excerpt was released from volume one, for which the title was revealed to be La Belle Sauvage. La Belle Sauvage will release simultaneously in the US and UK on October 19. The Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers imprint of Random House Children’s Books will publish in the US with a first printing of 500,000 copies.
In the first excerpt from La Belle Sauvage readers have been introduced to the story’s hero: 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, along with his boat La Belle Sauvage. It is revealed that Lyra is being sheltered – from her own father – by the nuns at Godstow Priory near Oxford The excerpt comes from chapter 10, where Malcolm is persuaded to help Lord Asriel secretly see his infant daughter.
On the title, Pullman says, “Who or what is La Belle Sauvage? She is a boat, a canoe to be precise, and her owner is a boy, Malcolm Polstead, the hero of this story whom we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story (if we were paying attention. He only had a walk-on part there). The canoe is important in this part of The Book of Dust, because some of the story is set during a massive flood.”
Two decades after The Golden Compass (1996)—the first book of Pullman’s world-famous His Dark Materials trilogy, which has sold more than 17.5 million copies in over 40 languages—The Book of Dust (#BookofDust) will return to the parallel world that has enthralled readers young and old. La Belle Sauvage is set ten years before The Golden Compass and centers on the much-beloved Lyra Belacqua. Alethiometers, daemons, and the Magisterium return to play their part.
The excerpt released today can also be read in special reissues of the His Dark Materials paperbacks, on sale next week, May 30th.
Since the ‘equel’ to His Dark Materials was announced, fans around the globe cheered the return of Lyra Belacqua, heroine of His Dark Materials. In a short film released by his publisher, Pullman revealed the ingredient for success behind His Dark Materials: Lyra’s ordinariness.
He says: “When I wrote the first book of His Dark Materials – sometimes called Northern Lights, sometimes called The Golden Compass – I certainly didn’t anticipate that so many people would find Lyra as interesting a character as I did.”
“The thing about Lyra is that she’s not a special child. She’s not especially gifted or talented – she’s a very ordinary child. When I was a teacher, I taught many girls who were like Lyra. They were brave, inquisitive, curious, disobedient: all those interesting things for storytellers. I think the reason that people have read this long and complicated story is because they’re with Lyra. She doesn’t know the things that are threatening her and she’s in the same position as the reader, because the reader shares her sense of danger and excitement and curiosity about what’s going to happen next. I hope the same thing will be true of Malcolm in La Belle Sauvage.”
Published between 1996 and 2000, Pullman’s spellbinding His Dark Materials trilogy is widely regarded as a modern classic that has captivated readers for over twenty years and won acclaim at every turn. Its heroine, Lyra Belacqua, frequently tops polls as an all-time favorite character, and the series is praised as one of the best, including being named an All-Time Greatest Novel by Entertainment Weekly and a Top 100 Book of All Time by Newsweek, which also said, “Pullman is quite possibly a genius.” The New Statesman wrote of the trilogy: “Once in a lifetime a children’s author emerges who is so extraordinary that the imagination of generations is altered. . . . The most ambitious work since the Lord of the Rings, [His Dark Materials] is as intellectually thrilling as it is magnificently written.”
Individually, the three books of His Dark Materials—The Golden Compass (titled Northern Lights in the UK), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass—have won several literary prizes, among them the Carnegie Medal (1996) and the “Carnegie of Carnegies” (2007) and the first Whitbread (now Costa) Book of the Year Award (2001) given to a children’s novel. His Dark Materials will appear once again in a BBC One adaptation in 2018, produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema.
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About His Dark Materials
The Golden Compass (1996): “Without this child, we shall all die.” Lyra Belacqua and her animal daemon live half wild and carefree among the scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The destiny that awaits her will take her to the frozen lands of the Arctic, where witch-clans and armored bears reign. Her extraordinary journey will have immeasurable consequences far beyond her own world. . . .
The Subtle Knife (1997): Will has just killed a man. He’s on the run. His escape will take him out of his own world entirely, to the eerie disquiet of a deserted city, and to a girl, Lyra. Her fate is strangely linked to his, and together they must find the most powerful weapon in all the worlds. . .
The Amber Spyglass (2000): Will and Lyra, whose fates are bound together by powers beyond their own worlds, have been violently separated. But they must find each other, for ahead of them lies the greatest war that has ever been—and a journey to a dark place from which no one has ever returned. . . .
Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, UK, in 1946 and educated in England, Zimbabwe, Australia, and Wales. He studied English at Exeter College, Oxford. After graduating, Pullman went into teaching, at various Oxford middle schools before moving to Westminster College in 1986 for eight years. He retains a passionate interest in education.
His first books published in the US were a quartet of Victorian thrillers featuring the intrepid Sally Lockhart: The Ruby in the Smoke (1987), The Shadow in the North (1988), The Tiger in the Well (1990), and The Tin Princess (1994). Other works include Spring-Heeled Jack (1991), The Broken Bridge (1992), The White Mercedes (1993), Count Karlstein (1998), I Was a Rat! (2000), The Scarecrow and His Servant (2005), and Two Crafty Criminals! (2012).
His most famous work is His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass, along with three related shorter tales: Lyra’s Oxford (2003), Once Upon a Time in the North (2008), and The Collectors (2015). These books have been honored with several prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, the Guardian Children’s Book Award, and (for The Amber Spyglass) the Whitbread Book of the Year Award—the first time that prize was given to a children’s book. Pullman has received numerous other awards, including the 2002 Eleanor Farjeon Award for children’s literature and the 2005 Astrid Lindgren Award, jointly with the Japanese illustrator Ryoji Arai.
Philip Pullman lives in Oxford. Further information can be found at philip-pullman.com.Share