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Serpentine

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**Don't miss the second series of His Dark Materials on BBC One this November.** A brand new short story set in the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust by master storyteller, Philip Pullman. Serpentine is a perfect gift for every Pullman fan, new and old. 'Lyra Silvertongue, you're very welcome . . . Yes, I know your new name. Serafina Pekkala told me every **Don't miss the second series of His Dark Materials on BBC One this November.** A brand new short story set in the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust by master storyteller, Philip Pullman. Serpentine is a perfect gift for every Pullman fan, new and old. 'Lyra Silvertongue, you're very welcome . . . Yes, I know your new name. Serafina Pekkala told me everything about your exploits' Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon have left the events of His Dark Materials far behind. In this snapshot of their forever-changed lives they return to the North to visit an old friend, where we will learn that things are not exactly as they seem . . . Illustrated throughout by Tom Duxbury, the perfect re-entry for fans of His Dark Materials and a wonderful companion to The Book of Dust. 'It's a stunning achievement, the universe Pullman has created and continues to build on' New York Times 'Pullman is an easeful storyteller and an intricate and inventive world-builder, and everything he has to write is worth reading' Telegraph


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**Don't miss the second series of His Dark Materials on BBC One this November.** A brand new short story set in the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust by master storyteller, Philip Pullman. Serpentine is a perfect gift for every Pullman fan, new and old. 'Lyra Silvertongue, you're very welcome . . . Yes, I know your new name. Serafina Pekkala told me every **Don't miss the second series of His Dark Materials on BBC One this November.** A brand new short story set in the world of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust by master storyteller, Philip Pullman. Serpentine is a perfect gift for every Pullman fan, new and old. 'Lyra Silvertongue, you're very welcome . . . Yes, I know your new name. Serafina Pekkala told me everything about your exploits' Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon have left the events of His Dark Materials far behind. In this snapshot of their forever-changed lives they return to the North to visit an old friend, where we will learn that things are not exactly as they seem . . . Illustrated throughout by Tom Duxbury, the perfect re-entry for fans of His Dark Materials and a wonderful companion to The Book of Dust. 'It's a stunning achievement, the universe Pullman has created and continues to build on' New York Times 'Pullman is an easeful storyteller and an intricate and inventive world-builder, and everything he has to write is worth reading' Telegraph

30 review for Serpentine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trin

    3.5 rounded up because daemons. The negatives are easy: this is very short (very short for $12.99). The woodcut-style art is lovely, but since the story is mostly Lyra having an extended conversation with Dr. Lanselius, then an extended conversation with Pan, the artist clearly struggled with finding new ways to depict this at times -- there's lots of faces drawn from slightly different angles. And there's too much use of the word lover. (Ugh, even just writing it there was too much.) But: daemons 3.5 rounded up because daemons. The negatives are easy: this is very short (very short for $12.99). The woodcut-style art is lovely, but since the story is mostly Lyra having an extended conversation with Dr. Lanselius, then an extended conversation with Pan, the artist clearly struggled with finding new ways to depict this at times -- there's lots of faces drawn from slightly different angles. And there's too much use of the word lover. (Ugh, even just writing it there was too much.) But: daemons! Lyra and Pan actually talking to each other! -- which, after The Secret Commonwealth, I mightily miss. This also sets some of that book up in an interesting way, so it's cool it's been widely released: it was written long before The Book of Dust trilogy but privately auctioned (wild). Curious to see Pullman having ideas in this direction all along... I do very much wish he would write one of these little books about Will, though. Would gladly pay $12.99 for that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

    This has made my year! A new short story set in the His Dark Materials world. I want it!!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susanne

    Similar to Once upon a Time in the North and Lyra's Oxford I would recommend it for fans of His Dark Materials and the Book of Dust. It is a sweet and very small additional story from Lyras world that is not able to stand on its own, but will shorten the wait for the final part of the Book of Dust trilogy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Wolf

    A sweet story about Lyra and Pan, set after the events of The Amber Spyglass. It's very short, but a nice read (with great illustrations).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alva McDermott

    A lovely novella, which shows the origins of a major theme within “The Secret Commonwealth”. I suppose it will have to do in tiding me over until the third “Book of Dust”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Valentina

    so short!!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Shorter than the other His Dark Materials novellas, more like a short story. Not a complaint though as happy for any extra visit to Lyra and Pan's world. Loved meeting the consul of witches again. A prelude to the second book of dust.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I'm a little disappointed that it was nearly full book price for what was effectively a short story in a hardback binding, but it added a lot to Lyra's world, and the abundance of illustrations (on every page?) was added value. This was billed as a thematic and timeline bridge between The Amber Spyglass and The Secret Commonwealth, and it works as both. Setup: Teenage Lyra gets a summer job helping Oxford grad students at an archaeological dig in (melting) Trollesund. I'm a little disappointed that it was nearly full book price for what was effectively a short story in a hardback binding, but it added a lot to Lyra's world, and the abundance of illustrations (on every page?) was added value. This was billed as a thematic and timeline bridge between The Amber Spyglass and The Secret Commonwealth, and it works as both. Setup: Teenage Lyra gets a summer job helping Oxford grad students at an archaeological dig in (melting) Trollesund.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Callaghan

    For devotees of His Dark Materials only. But as I am one, this little (and very short) story is another beautiful companion to the shorter instalments in this epic series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Well, that didn’t take long! A reminder of how Lyra was separated from her daemon initially and made The Secret Commonwealth a bit more understandable.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sanoo

    Really, really interesting as a bridge between His Dark Materials and the Book of Dust. Beautifully illustrated too. More than developing the plot of either of the series, it's more of a story, giving a glimpse of Lyra right after Lyra's Oxford, and her relationship with Pan. It is sort of a prequel to their relationship in the Secret Commonwealth. Can't wait for the third Book of Dust and Will's Oxford.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kaye Magistro

    I just love this world and I will read everything Philip Pullman writes about it. These short story books are so beautiful but also so... short 😭 I really need the third Book of Dust installment asap.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Chamaeleon

    My favorite one of the 3 companion books. It quite short, again, but gives an beautiful view into the connections between Lyra, Pantalaimon and the witches. Would recommend for “His dark Materials” Fans who are waiting for Book of Dust 3

  14. 5 out of 5

    Giuliano

    A great short story that adds wonderfully to the developments in The Secret Commonwealth! Also, it made me excited again for the third book of the new trilogy! ✨

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    80 pages? But I need more! 😩 Maybe this can tide me over until Book #3 of Book of Dust trilogy releases? 🤔

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    "That horrible endless bottomless--- It must be like having an abyss right next to you every moment, knowing it's there all the time . . . Just horrible." A year after the events in Lyra's Oxford, but well before the action described in The Secret Commonwealth, Lyra and Pantalaimon are off on an archaeological dig organised by Jordan College, investigating a settlement of the Proto-Fisher people in the Trollesund region of Arctic Norroway. While there they take the opportunity to visit Dr Lanseliu "That horrible endless bottomless--- It must be like having an abyss right next to you every moment, knowing it's there all the time . . . Just horrible." A year after the events in Lyra's Oxford, but well before the action described in The Secret Commonwealth, Lyra and Pantalaimon are off on an archaeological dig organised by Jordan College, investigating a settlement of the Proto-Fisher people in the Trollesund region of Arctic Norroway. While there they take the opportunity to visit Dr Lanselius, consul to the witch clans of the north, whom the pair want to ask about the separation that the witches can achieve with their dæmons. But Lanselius already knows about Lyra and Pan's ability to separate, the result of the trauma that took place when Pan couldn't follow Lyra to the Land of the Dead in The Amber Spyglass. When Pan and Lanselius's serpent dæmon go out of the room to converse, not only does Lyra know the consul has the same ability but she is also able to discuss the other separation that has taken place since they came back together, one which has meant their former easy familiarity is not only strained but is resulting in a growing alienation she finds most distressing. In this short novella nothing (after a rather prosaic exposition) much in the way of action happens, but conversations between Lyra and Lanselius, Pan and the serpent, and finally between Lyra and Pan reveal that the gulf felt between separated humans and their dæmons is one that may not be easily repaired; living with this uncomfortable relationship is, as Lyra tells the consul, "like having an abyss right next to you every moment." That state of affairs will foreshadow what is to come in The Secret Commonwealth and precipitate much of the action there. As a bridge between the two trilogies of His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust it explains much but also deliberately leaves much unclear, like knowing the path you've trod but having the way ahead shrouded in mist. When Pullman wrote this story in 2004 he had, as he explains in a note, "no idea that I was going to write another trilogy," so in a sense he too was in the dark about future events. But fifteen years beforehand some hints about the quests begun in The Secret Commonwealth (2019) were already in evidence, as revealed by Dr Lanselius: "In central Siberia there is a region of devastation. Thousands of years ago there was a prosperous city there, the centre of an empire of craftsmen and traders that reached from Novgorod to Mongolia. But they made war with the spirit world, and their capital was destroyed by a blast of fire. Nothing has lived there since -- plant, insect, bird or mammal." The mysterious place of separation for witches and their dæmons which Lanselius describes parallels Lyra's visit to the Land of the Dead but will also prove to be a projected destination in the second and third parts of The Book of Dust. Our heart aches for that abyss that is opening up between the girl and her dæmon: Pullman captures that perfectly in their awkward conversations, dialogues that are reminiscent of couple relationships where bickering and resentments are everyday occurrences, growing in frequency and depth. Nevertheless there is a sense of some rapprochement towards the last pages just as the snow starts falling, signalling that the climate is starting to right itself after Lord Asriel's catastrophic experiment in Northern Lights. Tom Duxbury's line illustrations capture some of the starkness of both landscape and emotions; they appear every two pages, sometimes as a double page spread, figures elongated, vistas stretching into infinity. I seem not to be the only one to sense a touch of Greta Thunberg in Lyra's depictions. However, even in this short piece there lurks a worm in the bud: can we actually believe everything the consul says? Can we even take on trust what his serpent dæmon divulges to Pan, bearing in mind snakes reputation for cunning? And what about the novella's title? For 'serpentine' implies twisting and turning, and snakes have forked tongues. One final note: Lanselius looks as though it's a Finnish surname, akin to Sibelius which apparently derives from a property near Helsinki called Sibbe. That may imply the consul's origins lie somewhere called Lanse or even L'Anse. In Lyra's Oxford the fold-out map is published by Smith and Strange at Globetrotter House; and among the travel books they publish is The Proto-Fisher People of L'Anse aux Meadows by a Groenlander Skraeling called Leonard Broken Arrow. Is Lanselius quite who we think he is?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ashley (אהבה)

    What a lovely little episode of Lyra and Pantalaimon's relationship. Olivia Coleman as the narrator of this was excellent! It's a wonderful short story that gives a little insight as to the journey that Lyra and Pan have been on since we saw them last in Oxford, with all those birds and a witch, and before the start of her journey east. It may help tide me over until we get the last installment of The Book of Dust. Until then I'll savour even the shortest visit to Lyra's world. I think there's a What a lovely little episode of Lyra and Pantalaimon's relationship. Olivia Coleman as the narrator of this was excellent! It's a wonderful short story that gives a little insight as to the journey that Lyra and Pan have been on since we saw them last in Oxford, with all those birds and a witch, and before the start of her journey east. It may help tide me over until we get the last installment of The Book of Dust. Until then I'll savour even the shortest visit to Lyra's world. I think there's a metaphor buried in there somewhere; about our relationship with ourselves, our soul or dæmon as it were. Some people are discontented with themselves in some way, I think many of us are to a certain extent. It happens when we grow up, and we learn what our place in the world is, and how maybe we don't quite fit that place. It's important that we are kind to ourselves and we allow parts ourselves to forgive other parts of ourselves, Lyra and Pan demonstrate that perfectly in this story. The way that Philip Pullman writes these stories about the intimacies of the human spirit is quite remarkable and I think I'll always feel a deep connection to Lyra and her world, for she and her dæmon have taught me lessons about who I am and who I want to be. Woah, that got pretty deep didn't it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Miller

    I wasn’t sure whether to rate the book as product or the story itself. The story is extremely short, so it’s a shame that Penguin didn’t do more in packaging it, making it a little treasure trove of supplementary material like they did Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon A Time In The North. It’s a very brief story and perhaps a little cheeky to sell for £8 without some added value. Tom Duxbury is also I’m afraid a slightly poor replacement for the master printmaker John Lawrence as the artist involved i I wasn’t sure whether to rate the book as product or the story itself. The story is extremely short, so it’s a shame that Penguin didn’t do more in packaging it, making it a little treasure trove of supplementary material like they did Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon A Time In The North. It’s a very brief story and perhaps a little cheeky to sell for £8 without some added value. Tom Duxbury is also I’m afraid a slightly poor replacement for the master printmaker John Lawrence as the artist involved in these small HDM books. His work on scenery and animals is nice but his figures awkward and lacking characterful variety. The collaboration of an artist of the calibration of Lawrence made the previous little books feel very special, as did the efforts made in production. This feels like a much cheaper and less special book. But the story itself is well worth having and forms a bridge between HDM and The Secret Commonwealth which is both intriguing and comforting as a contrast to the sadness of that book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rajiv Moté

    This tiny story, set between The Amber Spyglass and The Secret Commonwealth, sets up the main conflict in the latter book: what happens when a person and their dæmon (essentially, a person and their own soul) are divided betweeth themselves. The story doesn’t provide answers, but frames the issue. "You know, it isn't really surprising that there are things about ourselves that still remain a mystery to us." I can't think of a better thematic prologue for The Secret Commonwealth.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gregg Hower

    Reading through this copiously illustrated story I was reminded of the great reading adventure that was His Dark Materials. How pleasant to meet an older and changing Lyra and Pantalaimon, and to find brief mentions of other beloved characters. This is a fast read, loaded with evocative illustrations. But the story feels fragmentary, portending something bigger which is apparently The Book of Dust, a series I have not read.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A much more understandable view of the tension between Lyra and Pan after The Amber Spyglass (and much more hopeful about a path through it) than what we get (really without any satisfactory explanation!) in The Secret Commonwealth . . . really it made me anxious all over again for whatever we're going to get in the third Book of Dust!! Olivia Colman, of course, narrates beautifully.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Fleming

    Short read

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tudor Vlad

    The illustrations in this one are simply beautiful. The story is short but personal. A must-read for fans of both the first and the second trilogy.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jacqui

    Five stars. Goodreads is glitching out and won't let me rate (or unrate) correctly. 5 stars for Serpentine. 0 for Goodreads app.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Good story but was only really 30 pages after all of the pictures and large writing - didn’t add that much to the original series.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    It worked well given the context of the Secret Commonwealth, despite being written many years earlier. Looking forward to the final book of the trilogy whenever that may come.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca | Velvet Opus

    I love a good short story. Particularly one set in a world I already know and love. Serpentine is set after the events in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Thanks to the publisher for a review copy! RTC

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    After struggling with Book of Dust, this has given me a lot more hope that I will at least enjoy the rest of the books in the new series. I like Pullman's writing style, characters, and the moral dilemmas he gives them, and this felt much more like that style than Book of Dust did to me. That said, I don't think it actually added anything to the character of Lyra, or was honestly all that...good. Perhaps I've merely forgotten what the Pullman's writing style was like after a few years without a After struggling with Book of Dust, this has given me a lot more hope that I will at least enjoy the rest of the books in the new series. I like Pullman's writing style, characters, and the moral dilemmas he gives them, and this felt much more like that style than Book of Dust did to me. That said, I don't think it actually added anything to the character of Lyra, or was honestly all that...good. Perhaps I've merely forgotten what the Pullman's writing style was like after a few years without a reread, but this felt really incoherent and jumbled, with barely any story or growth to speak of. Statements are made, and I guess they reach some sort of...decision? Agreement? I don't know. I was looking forward to the themes, especially the idea of coming back to somewhere that was so vital to your childhood and finding it changed, but because this had the word count and detail of a school project titled 'what I did this summer' there was no room to actually explore any of it. In the acknowledgments of the book Pullman writes about how the original manuscript came about, as an auction item for charitable causes. I don't know if this went through much, or any, editing after but I don't think it was enough. While I'm glad I read it, as someone who found the original His Dark Materials series to be formative books when I was a kid, I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone other than the diehard fan crowd. If you're looking to pick it up after just discovering the world as a whole, it's really not a vital read between The Amber Spyglass and The Secret Commonwealth.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    3.00 Serving as a quasi-prelude to The Book of Dust, Serpentine provides a fading glimpse into a brief time when Lyra and Pantalaimon are trying to understand their new "severed" freedom from each other. Unfortunately, this story is nothing new. Pullman admits as much in his note at the end of the book. It was written many years ago after His Dark Materials was published. However, it is likely this was not published previously due to its length. But after the recent success of the The Book of Dus 3.00 Serving as a quasi-prelude to The Book of Dust, Serpentine provides a fading glimpse into a brief time when Lyra and Pantalaimon are trying to understand their new "severed" freedom from each other. Unfortunately, this story is nothing new. Pullman admits as much in his note at the end of the book. It was written many years ago after His Dark Materials was published. However, it is likely this was not published previously due to its length. But after the recent success of the The Book of Dust novels and hot off the heels of the HBO series, this was released to satisfy — maybe cash-in on — the new found demand. This was billed as more than what it offers. I cannot blame Pullman for it since he did not create the advertising. But this piece feels more like an exercise in testing out new character traits than it is a full-fledged work. Short story it is not. Maybe an anecdote at best, which is not an issue if the reader knows this going into the purchase. And even though the accompanying images suit the material, they take up more space than the text, which can be read in minutes. 73 pages? Try 20. These were clearly added to balloon the page count into something more comparable for release. At this price I can purchase a novel consisting of several hundred pages. I'm sure many others will be left disappointed and wanting more. So make sure the next Pullman title you buy has a triple digit page count.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Annette Fuller

    It’s really hard to review books about Lyra, because she and Pan are so real to me. That’s something the first trilogy gave us that I hope won’t ever go away. This short story is an interesting bridge between the events of The Amber Spyglass (plus Lyra and the Birds), and The Secret Commonwealth. We need *something* to explain the rift between Lyra and Pan in TSC. And this short story is meant to be the beginnings of that something. But it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It fills me w It’s really hard to review books about Lyra, because she and Pan are so real to me. That’s something the first trilogy gave us that I hope won’t ever go away. This short story is an interesting bridge between the events of The Amber Spyglass (plus Lyra and the Birds), and The Secret Commonwealth. We need *something* to explain the rift between Lyra and Pan in TSC. And this short story is meant to be the beginnings of that something. But it still leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It fills me with this terrible melancholy, because if Lyra and Pan’s relationship can’t survive the trauma they went through, then what is the point of any of us surviving childhood and growing up at all? The wood cutting of Pan at the dock made me cry, of course. The images are beautiful and I love the stark feel of them. I’m always going to read any new stories set in the HDM multiverse. The original trilogy was so formative for me. I’d recommend this story to anyone who feels the same about the original trilogy, but probably not to people who aren’t as invested in these characters. It’s not going to make much sense or be very interesting if you aren’t already following this world and these characters.

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