This is the second book in His Dark Materials series, and it is a great example of the middle bit of a trilogy. The first book, The Golden Compass, told the story of Lyra, a young girl in a parallel universe who embarks on an adventure. This second book continues her story, sort of. The Subtle Knife switches points of view from Lira to our new hero, Will. He lives in our universe, is about Lyra’s age, and the story opens as Will is hiding his obviously disturbed mother from an unknown force. As Will at the tender age of 12 attempts to find his way out of a very grown up situation, he stumbles upon a window into another dimension where he can hide. There he meets Lyra, who, at the end of the last book, followed her father through the opening in the Aurora.
While this story is a continuation of the last, I like how the author switches from Lyra’s point of view to Will’s. We no longer are privy to Lyra’s secret talks with her daemon, but know what Will is thinking and feeling. The story progresses in true trilogy style, with The Subtle Knife being wrought with strife and ending on a very low note. What is nice about this entire series, though, is each book can stand on its own to a certain extent; there are two major storylines in each: the over-arching story of Lord Asriel’s rebellion against the Authority (of which we get more detail in this book), and the more contained story unique to each book. In the first, it was the story of Lyra and her adventures while trying to reach her father. In the second, it was the story of Will, and his adventures while trying to reach his father. A nice parallel there..our two heroes engaged in identical missions in separate worlds. While the common storyline remains unfinished at the end of this book, Will’s story ends neatly, if unpleasantly, and leaves the final book to take on the main story.