I really enjoyed this prequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy.
When I first heard that Lyra would be character in this book, but it would be set 10 years before the The Golden Compass, my main t
hought was: wtf? how? My assumption was that Phillip Pullman was trying to go out on a limb and try to connect this series to the His Dark Materials series so that books would sell. How can a baby be a character? How can you even consider including her? Just leave her out if she's a baby???
Turns out Philip Pullman is an incredibly capable writer and he not only managed to include Lyra as a baby in this novel, but in such a way that she was very important but also essentially a side character. I stand corrected!!!
Onto the actual novel. The title "Le Belle Sauvage" is refers to the boat that Malcolm owns, and I think it's also a great reference to [Lyra herself (hide spoiler)]. It's a beautiful name and it gave the boat real character.
I loved how much Malcom loved his boat and the care he took of it. I was also wondering how the boat would factor into the story and it also featured a lot, which I'm happy about.
This book is a wonderful YA novel, full of brave characters and a winding story. The first half of the novel is much slower than the second half, and in comparison the second half can be considered bananas. So much happens in the second half of the book that I was barely able to put it down. This is not to say the first half of the novel is slow, rather it is a nice build up to the events later in the book, and you will enjoy re-exploring the world of daemons with Malcolm.
I liked how Phillip Pullman was able to add more lore to the world of His Dark Materials. This is probably one of the hardest things to pull off in a universe where three other books have already been published. It's easy to be inconsistent or to retcon things that have already occurred, and I think none of those things happened. This could really have been published before His Dark Materials. He managed to include some extra tidbits to the story which expanded on the His Dark Materials universe, such as
I enjoyed how [Alice and Malcolm become team members and friends. I hope we see more of Alice in the future! I also think her daemon will settle as a greyhound. Also, why hasn't her daemon settled? Isn't she 16?
[The character of Bonneville was really interesting. This guy is mentally unstable and his relationship with his daemon was really sad. How must it feel to beat your own daemon? Also she lost both front legs and I feel for her.. despite how creepy she was!
Overall this book was fantastic. Would highly recommend to any fans of the previous trilogy. I hope future books feature Malcolm. He's a great character!