Pullman continues to branch off the story started in his Dark Materials trilogy in the Book of Dust series, which started with a 2017 prequel all about the exploration of the particle that sparks consciousness.
While that novel La Belle Sauvage featured Dark Materials' Lyra Belacqua as a baby, Pullman will release second instalment The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two later this year to depict her as an adult for the first time.
The Secret Commonwealth takes place 20 years after La Belle Sauvage and 12 after Dark Materials closed with The Amber Spyglass, as a now-grown Lyra ventures outside of Oxford through Europe and into Asia searching for a mythic town said to be haunted by dæmons.
Pullman's latest Book of Dust novel will also revisit the relationship between Lyra and her childhood caretaker Malcolm so many years later. In celebration of the book's release this autumn, Penguin Random House UK has released the first exciting extract:
‘It used to be you who was impulsive,’ said Pan, ‘and me who kept holding you back. We’re different now.’ She nodded. ‘Well, you know, things change … This isn’t just shoplifting. This is murder.’ ‘I know. I saw it.’
‘And maybe by doing this we’d be helping the murderer get away with it. By interfering with the investigation. That can’t be right.’ ‘That’s another thing,’ he said. ‘What?’ ‘You used to be optimistic. You used to think that whatever we did would turn out well. Even after we came back from the north, you used to think that. Now you’re cautious, you’re anxious … You’re pessimistic.’
She knew he was right, but it wasn’t right that he should speak to her accusingly, as if it was something to blame her for. ‘I used to be young,’ was all she could find to say. He made no response. They didn’t speak again till they reached the station.
Then she said ‘Pan, come here,’ and he leapt up at once into her hands. She put him on her shoulder and said quietly, ‘You’re going to have to look out behind. Someone might be watching.’
Who's watching? You'll have to read The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two when it arrives on October 3, 2019.
In case you simply can't wait until then, Philip Pullman has offered a few more teases: "Things have been biding their time, waiting for the right moment to reveal their consequences for Lyra Silvertongue. The Secret Commonwealth tells the continuing story of the impact on Lyra’s life of the search for, and the fear of, Dust.
"I found it intriguing and deeply exciting to discover how great events can turn on a little moment, and how revenge can be nurtured and fed and watered till it grows beyond control.
“Life is not easy for Lyra. It was enthralling for me to remember how powerfully and passionately our minds and opinions can be turned by reading a particular book at the right time. Lyra, as a student, is finding that out.
"She is also discovering a new and difficult aspect to her relationship with Pantalaimon, and other things about dæmons that she never suspected. But those things are background.
"At the heart of the book are Lyra, the young woman we saw first as a girl of 12 and then as a baby, and Malcolm, whose life as a boy became involved with hers and who now finds their lives helplessly entangled again; and how some emotions can last a lifetime, and others change beyond recognition.
"It’s the story of some people we know, and others we’ll meet for the first time. Their journey is going to take them far from their homeland towards a mysterious desert in Central Asia, where they hope to find, at last, the secret of Dust.”
Its international cast includes Dafne Keen as Lyra, Luther's Ruth Wilson as the scheming Marisa Coulter and James McAvoy as the adventurer Lord Asriel.
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