Lyra Belacqua is finally back. And fans of "The Golden Compass," both the best-selling fantasy novel and the Oscar-winning film, are no doubt beside themselves.
Belacqua, heroine of author Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, makes her reappearance nearly 20 years after "Materials" wrapped up publication, and almost a decade after "Compass," the first book in the series, graced movie screens.
She's at the heart of Pullman's "La Belle Sauvage," released Thursday. It's the first installment in a new trilogy called "The Book of Dust," a prequel to "Dark Materials" that Pullman promises will take readers to "quite a different part of the world."
"This book is darker," Pullman said Friday, during an appearance at the London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre. "I don't know if I'm becoming cynical. I hope I'm not, because I think cynicism is the death of all sorts of things. Skeptical, perhaps."
Set 10 years before the events of "Materials," "Sauvage" centres on Belacqua and 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead. Devotees will be pleased to hear that in addition to Belacqua, alethiometer, dæmons and the Magisterium all make a return, along with a whole host of new characters and locations.
During his talk, Pullman described "La Belle Sauvage" as "more elemental" than "Materials" and as an equal rather than a prequel -- even if you're not familiar with "His Dark Materials," you'll still be able to read the new book as a standalone novel.
And don't worry: The second installment has already been written, Pullman said, so you probably won't have to wait another 17 years for the next book.
Pullman also revealed that he's a fan of the "Game of Thrones" TV series and that he's delighted "His Dark Materials" is currently being filmed in a similar long-form format.
Out now, "La Belle Sauvage" is available in hardback, ebook and audiobook.
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