Gr 5 Up-As he did in The Golden Compass (Knopf, 1996), the first volume of his trilogy, His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman winds the story of this second installment (Ballantine, 1998) very tightly and lets it rip. Following the accidental death of an ominous stranger making inquiries of his father who mysteriously vanished years earlier, 12-year-old Will Parry sets off on a quest to find his explorer father. In doing so, he slips through a gap into the hauntingly beautiful and silent world of Cittagazze where he meets The Golden Compass heroine, Lyra Silvertongue, and her ever shape-shifting daemon, Pantalaimon, who is in pursuit of her own mission to ascertain the nature of the arcane Dust with her wondrous truth-telling golden compass. As Will and Lyra join together, their journeys and fates become inextricably linked, subjecting them to marvelous subplots involving witches, soul-gorging zombies called Specters, nefarious agents from other worlds, and the grail-like subtle knife of the title. All of this unfolds against a looming cataclysmic religious/humanistic tilt between the Magisterium and Lord Asriel and his legions of Angels culminating, of course, with the obligatory cliff-hanging ending. Bruce Coville's excellent Words Take Wing company again provides the beautifully rich and textured 20-odd voices to support Pullman's Anthony Hopkins-like narration. This stunning achievement weds the best in contemporary fantasy with impeccable technical production values. A mandatory acquisition for all libraries.-Barry X. Miller, Austin Public Library, TX Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
In a starred review, PW said, "More than fulfilling the promise of The Golden Compass, this second volume in the His Dark Materials trilogy starts off at a heart-thumping pace and never slows down." Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.