La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Rate: 4/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

It wasn’t until graduate school that I finally picked up Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy upon a high recommendation from beautiful friend, Kari. Anyone who has frequented my blog will remember that any book recommendation from Kari will be well worth the read.  Absolutely devouring this series over the span of a week or so, it  grew to be one of my favorites. One of the quotes from The Amber Spyglass even made it into our wedding readings, which was comprised of a series of love quotes derived from literature.

I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.

Recently, a fellow blogger drew it to my attention that I’d neglected to add this beautifully composed trilogy to any of my must read lists. Despite how much I’d enjoyed reading His Dark Materials, it likely had gotten lost in the fray of graduate school.  As such, I was very excited to see that Pullman was revisiting the story line with a prequel. On a side note, am I the only one who thought this book was called The Book of Dust and not La Belle Sauvage? Upon some Googling, I realized this new series is called The Book of Dust instead of the title of the novel.  With regard to the book, it would have likely aided my appreciation and character associations if I’d gone back and revisited the previous trilogy prior to picking up La Belle Sauvage, but thankfully the important personages and story line quickly came back to me.  I fear that it was the minor characters from the previous trilogy, and small Easter egg connections to the later books that failed to catch my attention in this fast paced read.  Despite this my attention was held rapt throughout the majority of this story that achieves diversity as a prequel as well as a stand alone story that captures the imagination.  The adventures leading up to and dangers that Malcolm, Alice, and Lyra endured in the historic flood, while simultaneously embarking on a mad dash from pursuit at all angles tested the endurance of both our young protagonists and reader’s sanity.  Any reader that has enjoyed Pullman’s former His Dark Materials will thoroughly relish in this new addition to a much beloved literary world, especially as light is shed on Lyra’s backstory.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • What is going on with all the supernatural occurrences that our trio encountered on their wild water adventure? I don’t remember the original trilogy having so many mythological beings. How will affect Lyra that she was suckled by the Queen Fairy Diana? How will it affect her that she was kissed and blessed by the River Guardian?
  • How did Coram  predict the flood?
  • Who was killed of the nuns by the flood?
  • Why was Bonneville so crazy? Why did he hate is daemon? How did he become so separated from his daemon?
  • What was the prophecy? Why was everyone after Lyra?
  • Will The League of Saint Alexander come back into play?
  • Will Malcolm get to be a scholar? How will he and Alice go back to their regular lives?
  • How will everyone go back to regular lives after a flood of that proportions? So many people would have been killed.
  • Will Hannah continue working for Oakley Street? What are their goals as a group?



  1. His Dark Materials is one of my favorites, too! I reread the original trilogy right after La Belle Savage, and I think one or two of your questions has an answer or two hidden in those books. Pullman also wrote a few short stories that take place in the same world which might include a familiar name or two as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I loved this book and am currently reading it to my daughter, who is Malcolm’s age. I know we’ll have a lot of talking to do about Bonneville’s actions in the second half of the book, but I just couldn’t resist introducing her to Lyra’s world. In the meantime, I’ll have to find my lost copies of His Dark Materials so she can move on to them! P.S., the title is very confusing–I’ve never seen a series dwarf the book title before like this!

    As for Bonneville, I saw him as Malcolm’s mirror opposite, and his outright villainy and psychotic self-hatred (which manifests as an ugly daemon that doesn’t “fit” him and his abuse of same daemon) were part of that opposition, since Malcolm is so utterly virtuous and totally together. Bonneville is also the true “beautiful savage” of the book, because he’s outwardly good looking and charismatic, but his soul is brutish. He’s one of the scariest, most disturbing villains in any book I’ve read!

    Liked by 2 people

    • How fun you’re reading this with your daughter! Yes I can pick out the scenes already where you’ll have the specific discussions. I’m excited for her to read His Dark Materials too! A bit jealous she’ll be experiencing Lyra’s world for the first time. 🙂

      I’m hoping we learn more about Bonneville’s background as the new series progresses. So many questions were left unanswered! And yes! Such a bizarre, scary villain!

      Liked by 1 person

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