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The Subtle Knife

His Dark Materials, Book 2
Written by: Philip Pullman
Narrated by: Philip Pullman, full cast
Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (143 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Coming soon! A new HBO series, His Dark Materials, based on Pullman’s books.

The spellbinding sequel to The Golden Compass, the modern fantasy classic that Entertainment Weekly named an "All-Time Greatest Novel" and Newsweek hailed as a "Top 100 Book of All Time", continues the epic adventure, catapulting listeners between worlds and toward a devastating discovery.

Lost in a new world, Lyra finds Will - a boy on the run, a murderer - a worthy and welcome ally. For this is a world where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and witches share the skies with troops of angels.

Each is searching - Lyra for the meaning of Dark Matter, Will for his missing father - but what they find instead is a deadly secret, a knife of untold power. And neither Lyra nor Will suspects how tightly their lives, their loves, their destinies are bound together...until they are split apart.

A number one New York Times best seller.

Published in 40 countries.

“Just as quick-moving and unputdownable as The Golden Compass.... The mysteries deepen and the wonders grow even more extravagant.” (The Washington Post)

“Pullman’s imagination soars.... A literary rollercoaster ride you won’t want to miss.” (The Boston Globe)

 “The story gallops with ferocious momentum.... Devilishly inventive.” (The New York Times Book Review)

©1997 Philip Pullman

What the critics say

"The superb production of this fascinating fantasy epic makes it a heart-thumping listening adventure." (AudioFile)

"More than fulfilling the promise of The Golden Compass, this second volume starts off at a heart-thumping pace and never slows down." (Publishers Weekly)   

 "A resoundingly successful sequel." (Booklist)   

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

HORRIBLE MUSIC!

I really enjoyed the story, and the narrators did a wonderful job.
The only downfall really was the horrendous music between chapters, at times it was quite disturbing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story but the music is a bit weird.

Pullman tackles some really heavy topics this one and still maintains a sense that more is going on than we see. I can't wait to listen to The Amber Spyglass and see where things go! I would say that this book, as with many second books in trilogies, takes a much darker tone than its predecessor.

Be prepared for multiple POVs in this one, with Lyra being one of a few main characters to follow. From what I've heard, this is a bit of an adjustment for many readers.

In Book 1, the music that played before each of the three acts of the book made sense and I appreciated it as kind of a bookmark between major segments. This audiobook plays music between each chapter and it can get a little old.

Other than the music, the performance is wonderful. I love that it is narrated by Pullman himself and the voice actors are fantastic. Starting Book 3 tonight!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Geoffrey
  • Boulder, CO, USA
  • 2003-12-03

The second book in a fantastic trilogy!

His Dark Materials, of which this is the second book, is a terrific fantasy. While aimed at younger readers, the series holds up brilliantly for adults, as well.

In the second book, Lyra's adventure continues, as she finds herself in another world and discovers Will, a young boy who becomes her companion through the rest of the series. Lyra & Will also find other types of beings in this world, angels and witches; some are helpful, some not so. You'll enjoy taking the journey with them, and the narration -by author Philip Pullman and a full cast- helps pull you into the story.

32 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Graham S. Stafford
  • 2008-03-10

Wonderful story

I listen to A LOT of books on audible.com. This and Golden Compass received great ratings except for those who wrote a review. I see this often. I guess we have some literary critics who haunt audible.com. :) I found The Golden Compass and this book wonderful stories. The narration on both were great, and the music didn't bother me a bit. I'm starting the 3rd book with great expectation. If you like a well read, great stories then these books are for you.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Arnold C. Macdonald
  • 2004-03-04

Another Terrific Book

This is the second book of the trilogy, and I thought if anything it surpassed the first with the introduction of new and compelling characters and plot developments. The actors and production are superb. Perhaps the best youth recorded book I have heard, including all of the Harry Potter books. Very highly recommended.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bev
  • Alton, IL, USA
  • 2007-08-28

Really Fantastic

This book is amazing - the narriator is very good as well. I loved these books when I read them - and I loved them just as much while listening. You won't be disappointed.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ann
  • 2006-09-04

an earful

The second part of the trilogy is wonderfully compelling. The musical interludes between chapters are terrible -- ear piercing interrruptions to an otherwise great dramatization.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dane
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 2010-11-24

Good Book - Bad Audio Quality

Good Book - Bad Audio Quality ...

In many parts it sounds as if someone is having a conversation in the next room, or an annoyingly repetitive chirping sound distracts you from the content.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Janet
  • 2007-10-11

Enjoyed as much as the first

Great second book. I love the narration in these books. Each character has it's own voice. The books really come alive.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • m
  • 2018-08-17

great book, the kids voices hurt my ears though

great story, lyria's voice and most of the other kids voices annoyed me though..
but i hate children so i guess that kinda makes sense

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Philip
  • Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
  • 2008-06-02

Worth continuing

If you read the Golden Compass you have no choice but to continue this series. I wish I could say this was as an enjoyable, but I can't. I can say that it is an interesting, if not a tad confusing. In general the series walks a thin line between young-adult and adult literature. There are times I found it a tad childish, and there are moments when I can't see a child understand the complex story.

Like most trilogies, this is an in between story that mostly sets up the next and final book.

The production is first rate. 20 year of audio book listening I can say it is one of the best on that level.

I am half way through the third book and I can say that I look forward to listen to them all again which is something I seldom do.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mackenzie W
  • Seattle, WA
  • 2018-02-27

On second thought, good thing there is no movie #2

This book is okay. I actually really liked the first one, but this is a disappointing continuation of the story. This is where it starts to get biblical, and the character development goes downhill. I'm assuming that Philip Pullman thought he was accurately portraying a preteen's puberty, but let's be real, this was a superficial attempt. There is also a new character, Will, is unlikable and vapid at best. However, the struggle for the subtle knife is stimulating and I still enjoyed finding out where the story goes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful