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The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

Book of Dust, Volume 1
Written by: Philip Pullman
Narrated by: Michael Sheen
Length: 13 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (188 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An instant New York Times best seller! 

2018 Odyssey Honor

2018 ALSC Notable Children’s Recording

The Washington Post Best Audiobook of 2017

Slate Best Audiobook of 2017

Booklist Editor’s Choice Audio for Youth

AudioFile Best YA Audiobooks of 2017 

"Too few things in our world are worth a seventeen year wait: The Book of Dust is one of them." (The Washington Post

Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of his groundbreaking novel The Golden Compass to expand on the story of Lyra, "one of fantasy's most indelible characters." (The New York Times Magazine

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy.... 

Malcolm's parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue. 

He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust - and the spy it was intended for finds him. 

When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl - just a baby - named Lyra. 

Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm. 

"The book is full of wonder.... Truly thrilling." (The New York Times

Note: This audiobook was recorded from the UK edition. 

©2017 Philip Pullman (P)2017 Listening Library

What the critics say

"People will love the first volume of Philip Pullman's new trilogy with the same helpless vehemence that stole over them when The Golden Compass came out." (Slate)

"There’s something pleasingly old-fashioned about Michael Sheen’s narration, which is matched by the pleasure of returning to Pullman’s world of daemons and Dust. Sheen fully inhabits the text... It’s a rip-roaring start to Pullman’s new trilogy, and fans will be impatient to dive into the next installment." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Worth the wait!

I couldn't stop listening to this once I started. As a fan of His Dark Materials, I was very excited for this. As you progress, you discover the backstory about familiar characters while falling in love with the new ones. I would not say this is a story for children, as there is some hard content throughout, but the magical and fantasy qualities are enough to bring out your inner child. The narration is wonderful as well. Highly recommend!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Disappointed in the story

I am a huge fan of Dark Materials series, including the excellent dramatized audiobooks. The story in La Belle Sauvage is not nearly as cohesive or driving as Dark Materials. At times it is needlessly violent and crude, and I was very disappointed in the gratuitous inclusion the sexual assault of the teenaged female protagonist. It was totally unnecessary for the story or development of the characters. I don't think I'll be reading the rest of this series.

The narration and audio quality are excellent.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Why is a heading required?

Great story and excellent narration. Reader's of His Dark Materials will enjoy an opportunity to revisit this amazing universe.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Book Of Dust

Wonderful story, can't wait for next book. Narrator really brought the story alive. Highly recommend!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful. Listens to it twice.

I was spellbound by this story. Malcolm may be the most compelling boy hero I have ever read about. Polite, observant, clever, modest, and remarkably loyal and courageous. The relationship with Alice surprised me but was quite riveting.

I know many people fount the second part of the book too fantastic but I loved it — except for the harrowing parts involving the relentless villain.

My favourite chapter was the one with the fairy queen who wants to keep Lyra. The way Malcolm outwits her and his final quip to Alice made me laugh out loud.

I can’t wait for book 2 in the dust series. Hoping Malcolm (and Alice) will reappear.

The narrator was outstanding — so many different voices.

Richard

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Mr. Pullman never disappoints!!!

Excellent.
Love the characters, so strong and vibrant. The story was enthralling and left me desperate for more. Can’t wait for the next volume!

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Exceptional

Michael Sheen and Philip Pullman, a fabulous combination. I am definately buying the next installment.

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High expectations- sadly, not met

The story is relentlessly consistent - chases and escapes - with little tie-in of story elements other than obstacles along the way. Lack of character development. Most annoying though is the narration which was in shouting form when the action grew intense. I couldn’t stop listening because I thought my time-investment would be rewarded but not really... we already know what happened as this is a prequel. Sadly disappointing.

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audible addiction

loved loved loved it!! could not put it down. the narrator was fabulous. perfect voice for this story.

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absolutely fantastic. best performance of a novel

Narration was by far the best I have ever experienced. Michael Sheen was magical and Philip Pullman does not disappoint.

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  • Damon D. Hickey
  • 2017-10-24

Disturbing differences from print text

I really enjoyed Michael Sheen's reading of the book. But I was also reading the Kindle text, using Whispersync to listen to the Audible version as I read along. So any differences between the audio and print versions jumped out at me immediately. And there were a lot of them! At first I thought Michael Sheen must be reading a British text, while Kindle had an American version. But it quickly became obvious that couldn't account for all of the discrepancies (and I don't know whether there are differences between the British and American versions). At one point, a day of the week and the time of day were different. The Audible version had "physicist" in most, but not all, places where Kindle had "experimental theologian." In very many places, the synchronization stopped while the audio continued, only to resume in the middle of the next page. But the most glaring difference came in a tirade from Alice toward Malcolm. In the Audible version, it's long, very violent, and extremely profane--something parents should be warned of. But in the text, it's much shorter, less violent, and not profane. I'm guessing that Sheen was probably reading a pre-publication text that was edited further before publication, and I hope that a new audio version that follows the published text will be forthcoming. In the rush to get both versions out by the publisher's deadline, someone has been exceedingly sloppy. I found the constant discrepancies and interruptions in synchronization to range from irritating to really upsetting, leading me to read the last few chapters without Mr. Sheen's constant distractions. And I find it disturbing that those who experience the oral, but not the written, text will not get the version Mr. Pullman and his publisher intended.

129 of 138 people found this review helpful

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  • Roundmound
  • Silverton, OR
  • 2017-11-12

Michael Sheen is superb!

I loved the full-cast experience of the "His Dark Materials" series. For anyone hesitant to listen to a single narrator after listening to the full cast trilogy, do no be concerned. Mr. Sheen is one of the best narrators I've ever listened to in my 25+ year history of audio books. There are several action scenes in this book where the narrator raises his voice and almost shouts. The intensity is incredible. Audible should make one of these scenes be the sample that audio book browsers hear. Sure, this is a great story by Pullman, but he couldn't have picked a better voice actor. Sheen's range of voice characterization is stunning. And if you're an Anglophile like me, you're in for a treat.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • April
  • 2017-10-24

Hoping for improvement in the next books.

It's a very weird book with weird structure, and it gets way too surreal at just the wrong time. Definitely not as impressive as the previous trilogy. However, it has great characters, a great villain, and all the savage beauty of the Dark Materials, so I'll definitely be waiting for the next books. It's wonderful to be back in that world again.
The narration is excellent, unlike the horid full cast recording of HDM.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-10-29

decent. not what I expected.

Narrator was great. Story was decent but not up to what I built it up to be. Read His Dark Materials as a kid... so maybe I expected too much as an adult.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2017-11-06

Michael Sheen does this great story justice!

If you, too, are a massive fan of the radio play audio version of Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, you know the work cut out for anyone attempting to narrate this solo. Michael Sheen does a fantastic job and made this audiobook come alive. Huge fan of this story, absolutely adored this presentation!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Stephanie Hohn
  • 2017-10-20

Very Engaging

Michael Sheen does a great job creating tension and distinctive characters with his reading style, and the book itself was one of the more engaging I've read this year. I devoured this book, and will certainly be relistening to it. Prepare to fall in love with Mal and to be genuinely invested in his struggles.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • bob orca
  • 2017-11-08

Disappointed

I absolutely loved the Golden Compass trilogy and have re-read it a number of times, but was quite disappointed in this first book of Pullman's next series set in the same world. First, there were some good things about this book: Michael Sheen is an excellent narrator who did a great job with all the characters: The main character, Malcolm, is a likeable protagonist and is brought to life very well. The setting is richly detailed and has all of the charm and interest of Lyra's world as set out in the original trilogy. Now, what was bad about this book. Although it has a promising start, the plot in the middle and end of the book is weak and dimensionless. The last half of the story appeared to me to be very repetitive, with them on the flood waters and the evil character Bonneville chasing Alice and Lyra and Malcolm somehow turning up over and over. Additionally, with the exception of Malcolm, I didn't feel that any of the other characters had any depth to them. There were a variety of other situations that were casually thrown into the mix (i.e. the fairy queen) but not developed so each of these little sub-stories felt trivial and unsatisfying.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gramercy1234
  • Ny ny
  • 2017-11-05

Delicious

Absolutely riveting
Wonderful return after17 years!
Michael Sheen’s performance is superb
Hold on
Cannot wait for the next !

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • itinerant
  • 2017-10-27

Lyra doesn't say much

This was a book worth waiting for, though it doesn't have quite the magic of the Golden Compass series . . . not yet, anyway. Some bones are showing, as if Pullman is working too hard to build a ladder to the Lra years while trying to take some shortcuts with already-established themes and characters only nascent at this stage. Really, though, there's nothing to complain about here: it's a great adventure.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Maddy Avena
  • 2017-10-25

After such a long wait I was underwhelmed

I have read the His Dark Materials trilogy many times. It is my favorite fantasy trilogy of all time. I love the concepts presented in the books, how skillfully Pullman talks about death, what makes us alive, spirit, consciousness, the oppressive nature of religion vs the expansive nature of spirit and magic all wrapped up in a great adventure. I was SO EXCITED to learn that a prequel was coming out and eagerly preordered it and waited as I wanted to listen to it instead of read it.
So finally the day came. I listened to the whole thing in 3 sittings and must say I was underwhelmed. While all three of HDM books had stories within stories within stories, the Book of Dust only had one story and it went on and on and on. The endurance of Malcolm and Alice was exhausting and went beyond anything I could, even with great generosity, believe possible of anyone. And the title was never really manifest. Dust only took up a very little space in this story. Of course, I suspect the concept of Dust will further develop in the next book and the next after that, but hours upon hours of the flood got a little boring. I loved our hero and heroine and the baby Lyra, and that carried me to the finish, but I was left unsatisfied and somewhat bored vs. craving more which was my experience with the His Dark Materials trilogy.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful