Whatcha reading? His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

This is one of those that I have meant to read for so long that I almost thought that I had. I started it one winter's day when the library was closed and I had run out of books and there it was winking at me from the shelf. A book I haven't read on my shelves is rare indeed; another glance shows me that the only other immediate contender is Wiring 1-2-3, and that, my friends, is no contender at all, since I will never read that and cannot imagine how it even came to be on my shelves. In any case here I am knee-deep in Lyra's world, and wow, do I love the polar bear Iorek Byrnison and his soul of armour and the fact that he has both a first and a last name. I am a sucker for polar bears in general, as I have discussed, and would dearly love to see one in the wild but had best get a serious move-on before the remaining ones drown, thanks to us. I digress.

Dust. Somehow the whole book seems to be a quest for Dust, yes, with a capital D, and everyone from the least Scholar to the highest member of the Church has something to say about Dust. But what is it? Does it fall from the Aurora Borealis? Does it bring on puberty? Is that a bad thing? Why is everyone intent on killing children in its pursuit? The great news is that I have hundreds of pages left to solve all of these mysteries and many more. In the meantime I am wondering if this was on the banned books lists at any point, as it seems that someone always makes a ruckus whenever the Bible is mentioned, and so I look it up. And no wonder at all, I find that this book was the eighth most banned or condemned book of 2008-2009, which I'm guessing thrilled Philip Pullman to no end. He clearly has his issues with Christianity and the creation story.

What I find I most want, however, is what some of the bears want, which is to have a daemon of my own. Every person in this universe has one, attached by some unknowable tether, and can read each other's minds and comfort one another in the darkest and most despicable of situations, of which there are plenty. How awesome is that? Again until puberty the daemon can take on any animal form at will, and s/he (almost always the opposite sex from the person) can only go so far away, a few yards, it seems, until each feels terrible pain and loss. Most awesomely? No one else can touch your daemon; it's all yours, as you are all his/hers. Look! There's a test to find out your daemon!

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