Serpentine: a short story from the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust – Philip Pullman


Penguin Australia

  • November 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241475249
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Hardback
  • RRP: $16.99

Naturally I read it immediately! Pullman explains that following His Dark Materials ‘Lyra and her world wouldn’t leave [him] alone’ and he wrote this short story following a request for a contribution to a fund-raising even for the National Theatre. Given that the NT had staged a wonderful production of His Dark Materials he was happy to do so and gratified that this story made a generous amount of money. Sixteen years later and two books into The Book of Dust Pullman felt it time to share this story which foreshadows so perfectly the heart-breaking dilemma in which Lyra and Pantalaimon find themselves in the new series.

Lyra and Pan return to the North accompanying an Oxford archaeological dig giving Lyra the perfect opportunity to re-visit the meaningful memories of her younger self and especially to talk with Dr Lanselius Consul to the witches. She is desperate to find an answer to the question that has plagued and grieved her since she separated from Pan whimpering on that jetty. What had Pan done, what had he seen and where had he been? How did he manage on his own? The pair may have become comfortable with their ability to part but Lyra has never been reconciled to the difference between them that it has created nor can she ask Pan himself about this sensitive matter. This gulf between them, as we know, becomes irreconcilable and a crucial element in The Book of Dust, particularly The Secret Commonwealth.

We may not have the answers but at least we begin to understand the true pain of the separation which is so much more than a physical one.

Lovers of Pullman’s world will delight in this little addition to their collection – and what a perfect little stocking filler it makes!!

This one stays on my shelf – enough recommendation I think for anyone.

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