As I’d mentioned in my review of La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1), I decided to (finally) read the series when I saw paperback copies of The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) in bookstores. What? There were already paperbacks of book 2 out, and I still hadn’t read book 1?! OK, time to read. And then after reading book 1, I tried to hunt down hardbacks of book 2, but couldn’t find one. Thankfully, my friend introduced me to Book Depository, from where I ordered this specific edition. (Having consistent editions sparks joy in my life.)
The events in The Secret Commonwealth occur twenty years after La Belle Sauvage and eight after His Dark Materials. I admit that I could benefit from rereading His Dark Materials (I read it more than ten years ago…), but Philip Pullman tied all of the characters and events so well in The Book of Dust #1 and #2 that I was able to recall the backstories as I read on.
The Secret Commonwealth was almost perfect, except that it felt too much like a lead in to a third book. But I appreciate. I’m going to rave about certain events in the book, so I will tell you now that this post has spoilers.
Lyra is 20 years old in The Secret Commonwealth; she’s dated around but still thinks fondly of Will (first love!) from time to time. But Will is in another world, and I appreciated how the general advice to Lyra has been to let him go—even I wasn’t ready to let him go. I was really hoping to see more of Will Parry, but I guess that was just me holding on to the past. Maybe I need to grow up, too.
On the other hand, I’m not too sure how I feel about Malcolm’s feelings towards Lyra. I loved the backstory in La Belle Sauvage: Malcolm was eleven, and he was absolutely entranced by Lyra—it reminded me of how my nephew adored his little sister back when they were younger. But to be in love? I’m not sure where exactly that was coming from. The age difference is not a big issue at this point in time, but I’m curious to know how he developed those feelings when Lyra hadn’t exactly been warm towards him.
Speaking of not being warm, wow, Lyra and Pan. I liked this twist even though it made me sad. I was almost sure they would reunite by the end of the book, but, nope. I guess that would have been too predictable.
In any case, I’m really intrigued by Olivier Bonneville. I can’t read him. For sure he’s going to have a bigger role in The Book of Dust #3, but I have no guesses as to what this would be. I’m super excited to read book 3, but it isn’t published yet, so now I’m playing the waiting game. I hope it comes out soon; I am itching to know what happens next.