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The Golden Compass

The Subtle Knife

The Amber Spyglass

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Lyra’s Oxford

The Science of
Philip Pullman’s
His Dark Materials



The Amber Spyglass: Readerís Guide

Questions  ē  Suggested Reading


About this Guide

The Amber Spyglass brings the intrigue of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife to a heart-stopping conclusion, marking the final volume as the most powerful of the trilogy.

Along with the return of Lyra, Will, Mrs. Coulter, Lord Asriel, Dr. Mary Malone, and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison, The Amber Spyglass introduces a host of new characters: the Mulefa, mysterious wheeled creatures with the power to see Dust; Gallivespian Lord Roke, a hand-high spymaster to Lord Asriel; and Metatron, a fierce and mighty angel.

And with rich characters and mounting suspense come startling revelations, too: the painful price Lyra must pay to walk through the land of the dead, the haunting power of Dr. Malone's amber spyglass, and the names of who will live - and who will die - for love. And all the while, war rages in the Kingdom of Heaven - the shocking outcome of this brutal battle will uncover the secret of Dust.

In The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman deftly weaves the cliffhangers and mysteries of The Golden Compass and The Subtle Knife into an earth- shattering conclusion - and confirms his fantasy trilogy as an undoubted and enduring classic. The questions, discussion topics, and author information that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of each of the books in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.


Questions for Discussion
  1. Dust, Dark Matter, and Sraf are three different names for the same material. How do these names reflect the different worlds they come from? What attitudes and feelings does each society have about this material?

  2. Why do you think the subtle knife breaks when Will thinks of his mother? When the knife breaks, do you think Mrs. Coulter is aware of her influence on Will? Are there any connections between Mrs. Coulter and Will's mother?

  3. In each book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, a special device (such as the alethiometer, the subtle knife, or the amber spyglass) is introduced in connection with the pursuit of Dust. What are the different properties of each instrument? How does each instrument reflect the personality of the person that uses it (i.e., Lyra, Will, and Dr. Malone)?

  4. When asked to mend the subtle knife, Iorek is hesitant: "Sometimes a tool may have other uses that you don't know. Sometimes in doing what you intend you also do what the knife intends, without knowing." What do you think the knife's intentions are? Based on these intentions, who do you think created the knife and for what purpose?

  5. By the end of The Amber Spyglass, what similiarites can you see between Lyra and Mrs. Coulter? How is Lyra's storytelling different from Mrs. Coulter's lying?

  6. In The Amber Spyglass, Mrs. Coulter goes through a dramatic transformation as her maternal feelings for Lyra break through to the surface. What is the catalyst for this change?





Suggestions for Further Reading

The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander

The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

The Left Hand of Darkness and The Earthsea Tetralogy by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Swiftly Tilting Planet and A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle

The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Paradise Lost by John Milton

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien