The Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman
After being entranced by The Golden Compass - and somewhat less impressed by The Subtle Knife, I feel rather let down by this final book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. It has some engaging elements, but I feel that Pullman overreached himself. At times, there was too much going on and what was actually happening wasn't always very clear. When I find myself not caring very much how the plot is going to be resolved and neither dreading the end of the book because I want there to be more of it, nor looking for excuses to keep listening when I should be doing something else, that's a good indication that I'm not fully engaged with the narrative.

What I did like a lot was the full cast narration; that is, the book is narrated by its author, with other readers playing the various characters. This trilogy was my first experience of that style of audiobook and it was a great way to listen: a cross between a regular audiobook and a radio play. I also thought that Pullman has lots of interesting ideas. His world view is reasonably clear in the narrative. It's a world view which is very critical of organised religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. I have no difficulty with Pullman expressing secular humanist views in his fiction. Indeed, in general terms I share those views. However, I find it odd that Pullman is so critical of CS Lewis' Narnia Chronicles, when his own writing shares many features seemingly inspired by the Narnia books. This is so, even if the underlying philosophy of the books differ.

I wish that I had enjoyed this book and the second one in the trilogy more than I did. However, I'll remember Lyra, her daemon Pan and her friend Will with fondness, even if I don't feel the urge to revisit their worlds.