William is from Sussex, UK.
He has a passion for literature and enjoys reading all sorts of books. His hobbies are numerous and consist of medieval/viking reenactment, writing, karate and of course reading.
The Secret Commonwealth jumps about two decades from the ending of its predecessor. I said with La Belle Sauvage that you did not have to read His Dark Materials, but that is not the case with The Secret Commonwealth.
I was really excited for this, especially after really enjoying the first of this series. Bu other than the prose, each element of this story was weaker and less intriguing. But it is still a book that fans of this world will enjoy.
The main protagonist is Lyra once again, now a few years older. A major theme of the novel is her arguing with her daemon, which was heartbreaking, but jarred horribly with their personalties. It seemed forced and only to drive the plot further, making no real sense.
“You're in a world full of colour and you want to see it in black and white.”
The main character of the former book, Malcolm, is also in this, now a professor. I loved his naive determination and moral code in the first book, but was put-off in this one. He makes a few….questionable decisions that really distanced me from the character and took me out of the story. I’m sure those who have read The Secret Commonwealth will know what I am referring to.
A disheartening aspect to this book is that the events of the previous series appear to have been for nothing. The world and its evils have not been suppressed or altered in any way, making His Dark Materials basically useless.
Of course Pullman’s prose will never be a weakness. It is lyrical as always and immersive. Narrated by the wonderful Michael Sheen, the style convinced me to plough on through this massive book! My two favourite aspects of the experience.
“You won’t understand anything about the imagination until you realise that it’s not about making things up, it’s about perception.”
Overall, The Secret Commonwealth was a disappointment on all levels, with the exception of prose. And also the narration on Audible was brilliant, which is not down to Phillip Pullman himself. Characters developed in unnatural ways, plot seemed forced, and it was very different from the usual experiences I have had regarding Pullman’s works.
“Fear, tenderness - these emotions were so despised that they could be admitted into consciousness only at the cost of redefining what it meant to be a man.”
Regeneration is a story inspired by true events of World War One. Centres around the now famous war poet, Siegfried Sassoon, and his inspiring of Wilfred Owen, the story takes place in a hospital called Craiglockhart, for those suffering shell shock, PTSD.
It is a story of intricate characterisation, the horrific consequences of war, and the internal conflict each character faces. Everyone faces different tribulations and struggles that appear impossible to overcome, yet they can unite over their experiences, and it is what forges them into brothers.
“You know you're walking around with a mask on, and you desperately want to take it off and you can't because everybody else thinks it's your face.”
Sassoon is the central character. He wrote The Declaration, which criticised and discredited those causing the war, proclaiming that it could have been ended, and was not fuelled by incessant greed. Yet, he faces the trial of facing heavy opposition who can send him far away, and the guilt of leaving his men on the front line.
It Is a story of moral dilemmas that plagues all, especially that of William Rivers, the doctor, who wishes to ‘regenerate’ those in his care, but only to send them back to the front line, to almost certain death. This was emphasised by the subtle and smooth prose that allowed ideas, themes and undertones to evolve and naturally present themselves to the reader, depicting realistic and believable mentalities to the characters.
“A society that devours its own young deserves no automatic or unquestioning allegiance.”
Regeneration was a haunting yet revealing story that was brilliant in presenting both the horrors of the war, but the reasons of why people fought, and how it formed bonds and inspiration. Focusing on Sassoon, it was amazing to find out how and why he used poetry in the way he did to portray such powerful visions of the reality of war.