A flatlay of Philip Pullman books

How many have you read? Image: Alicia Fernandes/Penguin

In 1995, Philip Pullman published Northern Lights. A sweeping, provocative adventure about a precocious girl with remarkable powers and a clutch of disappearing children, it captivated readers immediately. Followed by The Subtle Knife two years later and The Amber Spyglass in 2000, the His Dark Materials trilogy has been finding devoted fans for more than 25 years.

From daemons to dust, bridges to other worlds to bears clad in armour, Lyra’s story holds a special place in many readers' imaginations. So, if you’ve reread the original trilogy more times than you can count and are after more of the wonder of Pullman’s storytelling magic, here are 10 suggestions of how to experience it from a new perspective or to explore further. A mix of audio dramatisations, stories that go deeper into the world of the books, and some suggestions for some of Pullman’s other creations, there’s something for every His Dark Materials fan.

Northern Lights read by Philip Pullman and Ruth Wilson (2021)

A wonderful way to experience the original trilogy anew is to listen to it on audio, and these new editions are read by Philip Pullman himself alongside a full cast. In the story that started it all we follow headstrong Lyra as she journeys to the frozen north to find the truth about who she is, and her destiny. This new edition also includes an interview with Ruth Wilson, who plays Mrs Coulter in the BBC television adaption.

The Subtle Knife read by Philip Pullman (2021)

However well you know the book, listening to it with a full cast adds new layers. Whether it’s meeting Will for the first time, seeing him encounter Lyra in Cittàgazze, the city abandoned by everyone but children, or following them both as they try to work out the terrible history of the powerful knife that Will inherits, this new audio version makes the most of the expanding cast of beloved characters we meet in the second book of the trilogy.

The Amber Spyglass read by Philip Pullman (2021)

In the final book of the original His Dark Materials trilogy, the story builds to a heartbreakingly beautiful climax. Hearing it read by the author, plus a full cast of narrators, adds an extra power to this extraordinary ending. It vividly brings to life the book’s devastating decisions and epic battles which see Lyra and Will separated as they search both for each other, but also for answers about their individual pasts and futures.

La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One (2018)

Pullman surprised and delighted readers across the world when he announced that he was returning to Lyra’s story with a new trilogy, The Book of Dust. The first volume, La Belle Sauvage, won him the title of Author of the Year at the British Book Awards in 2018, with the audio book (read by Michael Sheen) winning Audiobook of the Year. It introduces us to 11-year-old Malcolm and his daemon Asta, who learns a baby named Lyra is living nearby…

The Secret Commonwealth read by Michael Sheen (2019)

Michael Sheen returns to narrate the audiobook of the second in the trilogy, set 20 years after the events of La Belle Sauvage and a decade after the end of The Amber Spyglass. Following a Lyra who is now a young adult, she grapples with her relationship with her daemon Pantalaimon, as well as heading off on more far-flung travels to learn more about the mysterious Dust.

Lyra’s Oxford illustrated by Christopher Wormell (2021)

This new edition of Pullman’s 2003 book, which extends the world of Lyra’s hometown, is gorgeously illustrated by award-winning printmaker Christopher Wormell. This full-colour book features the short story 'Lyra and the Birds' which is set a few years after the end of The Amber Spyglass, as well as a map of Lyra’s Oxford, in-world adverts, catalogues, and other ephemera that add depth and detail to Lyra’s life among the spires.

Once Upon a Time in the North

One of the more beloved characters of the world of His Dark Materials is the Texan balloonist Lee Scoresby, as well as his daemon, Hester the Arctic hare. In this short tale - also available as an audio book read by Pullman - we learn, alongside Lyra while she’s studying at university, how Lee Scoresby first encountered Iorek Byrnisson, the armoured bear and how their loyalty and friendship grew from dramatic circumstances.

Grimm’s Tales in Clothbound Classic (2020)

If you fancy venturing outside of Lyra’s world, a good place to start is Pullman’s retellings of 50 of the stories from the Brothers Grimm. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are some of the most famous collectors of fairy tales, and here Pullman puts his own spin on many of them. Available as a beautiful Penguin Clothbound Classic since last year, it features favourites such as Snow White and Cinderella as well as some more obscure and forgotten tales to discover.

The Sally Lockhart novels (1985-1994)

Before there was Lyra Belacqua, there was Sally Lockhart. A four-book series starting with The Ruby in the Smoke, it follows 16-year-old Sally who is sure there is something more sinister behind her father’s apparently accidental death. Taking in the opium trade, cursed jewels, and Victorian London, these twisty historical mysteries revolve around an utterly brilliant heroine, sure to be adored by fans of Lyra. And you can choose between reading them in print or waiting for the new audio editions which are coming in the autumn.

Daemon Voices read by Philip Pullman (2018)

Finally, the book that any fan of Philip Pullman must read. Daemon Voices is a collection of 30 essays about storytelling, written by Pullman over the last two decades, with an introduction by author and editor Simon Mason. The audio book is read by Pullman himself so you can sit and listen to a master writer tell you how it’s done. It covers a mix of his own inspiration as well as craft and is full of anecdotes, advice, and wisdom.

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