Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of The Amber Spyglass, we learn what Lord Asriel has been up to in the fortress he is building, and Baruch arrives to share the crucial information Asriel will need to defeat the Authority. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Amber Spyglass.

Is it okay to state that this might be my favorite trilogy of all time at this point? I mean….I honestly don’t believe there is anything left that could happen that could make me hate this. Every new chapter is just as exciting as the last, and the story that unfolds makes me feel nothing but joy.


I was wondering when we’d actually find out what Lord Asriel was doing, and in the process, I realize why this story works so well as a fantasy. I don’t know how Pullman could have told a story about many-worlds as is done here without the genre, but that’s not to say that having this be a fantasy is at all a hindrance to the story. But now I understand why it was so gutting that The Golden Compass film adaptation turned out the way it did: we are probably never going to see these last two books re-created on the screen. I’m not the kind of reader who feels that books should be made into movies. There’s only a few books I’ve ever seen adapted to film that absolutely worked in that medium, so I’m perfectly fine with the worlds in my head. The experience of a novel is simply hard to replicate on film, and most of the time, I’m perfectly content with film and literature existing on separate planes.

But SERIOUSLY. How amazing would it be to see Lord Asriel’s fortress done on screen in the right way? How riveting would it be to see Baruch fly into a cloud of mephitic vapors and remain the only angel to leave from it, flying on to the “fortress of basalt” that jutted out of the mountain? It’s not that the images in my head are incomplete by any means. I know I’ll always be happy with what Philip Pullman has given us, but GOSH THAT WOULD BE SO EXCITING. Maybe a graphic novel would even suit this, but I really enjoy how visual Pullman’s world building is, with its emphasis on colors and geography, of fully-detailed architecture and grandiose scale. This fortress is very much real in my head, and it’s because of Pullman’s writing that I’m able to feel this way.

For the record: This chapter also made me crave a mug of chocolatl as well. MMMM CHOCOLATE.

But honestly, we need to discuss Lord Asriel and the Gallivespians. We haven’t learned how Lord Asriel was able to send out the call to so many beings across the universe, but the introduction of the Gallivespians is another by-product of having multiple parallel worlds. We don’t even know where these tiny creatures come from, and I love that despite the weirdness of it all, no one in this fortress ever questions any of this. I suppose at this point that would be silly, but STILL. This is so awesome!

Like Mrs. Coulter, my confusion over Lord Asriel’s character stems from the fact that his actions seem to contradict each other. He is engaged in what we are told is a moral war, yet he had to commit the most heinous act in order to start it. I don’t know if I should despise him or pity him. At the very least, though, chapter five helps me begin to sort how I react to this man.

Right from the start, I knew that Lord Asriel was choosing to ask the strangest questions of Lord Roke, the spy captain. He has been hearing rumors and talk about Lyra’s importance to the future, but he does not seem at all interesting in how she is actually doing. He first asks what the Church thinks of her. Not where she is. Not if she’s safe. Not if she hates him for killing her friend. He’s clearly concerned about the right things! Lord Roke reveals to Lord Asriel what we already know: That Lyra will be faced with a choice in the oncoming crisis, and her behavior during that moment will affect everything. (I’m assuming this is directly referring to the witches’ prophecy of Lyra being Eve in the second war against the Authority.

When Lord Roke leaves, the first thing Lord Asriel says to his dæmon gives me hope that he has since realized the immense wrongness in what he had done at the end of the first book:

“She came to me on Svalbard and I ignored her,” he said. “You remember the shock…I needed a sacrifice, and the first child to arrive was my own daughter…”

YES. This is awful and you should feel awful for doing it. You betrayed your own daughter and murdered her best friend!

“But when I realized that there was another child with her, so she was safe, I relaxed. Was that a fatal mistake? I didn’t consider her after that, not for a moment, but she is important, Stelmaria!”

OH. HEY. HEY, LORD ASRIEL. Maybe you should consider the fact that you left your only daughter in the middle of the North Pole. That might be something more pressing than the fact that you can use Lyra in your war against God?

It’s clear now that Lord Asriel is not only unapologetic, but that people exist solely as objects of need for him. He needed a child. He was brought both Lyra and Roger, killed Roger, and left his own daughter behind. And now that she is allegedly so important to his war, he suddenly needs her again?

BOO TO YOU, LORD ASRIEL. I mean, I’m behind your war against the Authority in theory, but the method in which you are doing this is PRETTY FUCKED UP. She is your daughter. What are you doing?

The arrival of Baruch was exciting enough for me, but I was saddened that he was so dearly wounded, and it became obvious that this angel’s life is hanging by a thread. But the angel succeeded in finding Lord Asriel, and Baruch knows he must pass along this information as quickly as possible.

Oh my god, what Baruch tells Lord Asriel is MIND-MELTINGLY AMAZING. What he and Balthamos had failed to share with Will was the fact that they had discovered that the Authority considered “conscious beings of every kind [to be] dangerously independent,” so much so that “Metatron is going to intervene much more actively in human affairs.”


I mean, this revelation alone changes everything. Is Pullman about to speculate about a world (or worlds, rather) that are affected by a much more active God? God is going to finally start to intervene in human lives? Intervene how? OH GOD I WANT TO KNOW.

“The churches in every world are corrupt and weak, he thinks, they compromise too readily…He wants to set up a permanent inquisition in every world, run directly from the Kingdom. And his first campaign will be to destroy your Republic….”

SLAP ME IN THE FACE WITH A TROUT. Oh hell, this is just….this is filling me with an excitement I’ve not felt in a long time. God wants to gain more control!!! Does he want to return to a world that resembles what the Old Testament was like? Or something entirely new? I CAN’T EVEN THINK PROPERLY.

As Baruch begins to explain the subtle knife that Lord Asriel will need, elaborating on Will and Will’s demand that he not come before Lord Asriel until Lyra is found, I laughed at Lord Asriel’s shock that Stanislaus Grumman had a son, and that son is the bearer of the subtle knife. If something surprises Lord Asriel, then shit has most certainly gotten realer than we could ever hope for.

I was more shocked, though, by the gentle tone with which Asriel takes when he realizes that Baruch is dying from the choice to come here and deliver this information. It doesn’t feel fake to me, and it doesn’t seem like an attempt to manipulate Baruch. Baruch is going to talk either way, but Asriel actually seems disturbed and maybe a little touched that Baruch has done so much for him. He even compliments the speed in which Baruch arrived.

“It is the only gift I have,” said Baruch,” except the love of Balthamos, whom I shall never see again.”

And in an instant, my ecstatic fascination with this chapter turns quickly to complete sadness. Unlike the death of Lee Scoresby, I now knew that Baruch’s death was inevitable. It was just a matter of time, and there was no point in holding out any hope. Christ, and he’s never going to see the one angel he’s loved for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. UGH my creys y’all.

Even worse, we learn that Baruch’s brother is actually Metatron, once named Enoch. Baruch begins to share the reason he was cast out initially and became a rebel, telling Asriel that Metatron was a “lover of flesh” and “had many wives,” and I imagine that had Lord Asriel not interrupted him, he would have said that his homosexuality was the reason for his banishment.

Who knew I would one day read a book about gay angels banned by other angels? This book.

Unfortunately, Baruch never gets to tell Lord Asriel where his daughter is. A draft from the door opening in the room is enough to send Baruch’s form into chaos, and he disappears from existence. DAMN IT. I wanted more sassy gay angels.

It’s entirely indicative of Lord Asriel’s motivations that he is only briefly distracted by Baruch’s death before he immediately moves into action, setting forth a plan for himself and others to head out to rescue Lyra. But, again, this is not because he loves his daughter and he wants to make sure she is safe. Lord Asriel may be fighting a moral war that is necessary and noble, but he is seeking out his daughter only because he needs her for his own goals.

Goddamn, that is a depressing thought.


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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228 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 5

  1. enigmaticagentscully says:

    "There’s only a few books I’ve ever seen adapted to film that absolutely worked in that medium"

    Out of interest, could you give some examples? The only time I can really think of when books have been done justice by their films is with Lord of the Rings. There are films based on books that I enjoy but I invariably prefer the book once I read it. I'm just curious, really. 😛

    Also FUCK YEAH GALLIVESPIANS. I really love them, y'know, as a species. I think there's just something about the idea of these tiny creatures being respected and accepted as valuable allies that really appeals to me.

    • cait0716 says:

      Speaking for myself, I love the movie adaptation of V For Vendetta. I thought they did a wonderful job updating the themes, fixing the science, and making Evey a strong and compelling character. There's a lot of background information in the graphic novel that gets lost in the movie, mostly stuff about how the government operates and how they managed to create V. This certainly makes the story richer, but I think everything necessary to the plot comes through, and the tightness of the movie works to its benefit

      That's the only example I can think of, though. For the most part, I absolutely prefer books.

      • blis says:

        Totally different genre, but i adored the 2005 movie adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" sure things get cut out, but it works as a film. Great acting, amazing music and it just looked beautiful.

        Even though its different from the book " Kick Ass" was a pretty great adaptation as well. Actually i think i prefer the movie.

        • monkeybutter says:

          Oh, I love the 2005 adaptation, too! I know it's not as faithful as the BBC one, blah blah blah, but I love the cast, the way it was adapted for screen, and the entire mood of the film. I've probably watched it 20 times. And I have the soundtrack on my ipod. Absolutely adore it.

        • cait0716 says:

          That was a great movie, too. I love the scene at the ball that's just one long shot wandering through the house.

          • blis says:

            Great scene! I love all those long shots like that especially the one at the very beginning when its showing the house and we get our first glimpse at all the Bennets running around while Dario Marianelli's "Dawn" plays in the background.

            • barnswallowkate says:

              I love "Dawn" so much I used it for the bridal party processional in my wedding 😀 It's beautiful!

              Aaaaaand now I'm listening to it. I want to learn piano so I can play this.

        • knut_knut says:

          In general I'm not a Jane Austen fan but the BBC version + the 2005 movie adaption made reading Pride and Prejudice waaaaaaaaaaay more enjoyable for me. Still prefer the BBC one, though 🙂

        • miriamdelirium says:

          Totally different genre, but i adored the 2005 movie adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" sure things get cut out, but it works as a film. Great acting, amazing music and it just looked beautiful.

          Me too (and I could probably recite P&P by heart). The movie was true to the themes and feeling of the book, which is odd considering that the director had not ever read it. I watch the '05 version more often than the '95 version, mostly because it's less time consuming, but also because it's just as enjoyable. Emma, on the other hand, was a terrible adaptation. The acting was fine, but I think the direction was awful, and perhaps the script as well.

        • flootzavut says:

          I thought the '05 P&P is good as a film, but dreadful as an adaptation. Divorced from the book it's not a bad movie, but I just thought there was barely a character in the entire movie who "felt" right, although the film was stunningly gorgeous.

          (FWIW I like but can't love the '95 version either… never seen an Austen adaptation which really does it for me.)

          Funny how you remember things, but another adaptation – though a miniseries, not a book – is North & South. I mean the adaptation of the Gaskell novel, I don't know the other N&S at all. It's not perfect but it's pretty damn good!

          • Quandary says:

            Yes, I liked the North&South miniseries. Armitage is very good in it – though I was not entirely happy with the casting choice for Margaret Hale. Still, I am grateful to it since it made me read the novel, which I liked a great deal as well.

          • enigmaticagentscully says:

            I also loved the North and South adaptation – I agree with that actually, that was every bit as good as the book! 😀

          • sabra_n says:

            I've heard nice things about the North and South adaptation, but I utterly loathed the book, as Margaret Hale was the biggest canon Sue to ever Sue her way across England (while men continually fell in love with her on sight). Is the adaptation, uh…lighter on those aspects of the character?

            • VicarPants says:

              Yeah…Margaret definitely comes across as more normal in the miniseries than in the book; albeit opinionated and Different From Other Girls in the manner of most heroines.

              ETA: Also found it interesting that Molly Gibson from Wives & Daughters is, IMO, more baldly a Mary Sue than Margaret Hale, on the page; but she's still likeable, somehow. She's naive and loyal to the point of stupidity in some respects, but she's just so earnestly coming from a place of wanting to help the people she loves that it's oddly endearing. Also there's more cool science-nerd shit in W&D, and that element is majorly played up by the miniseries adaptation of that book, as well. 😀

        • sabra_n says:

          Psh, everyone knows that the best movie adaptation of Austen was Clueless. 🙂

          (I'm…not completely kidding about that, actually.)

          The best "straight" Austen adaptation for me, while flawed, is still the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee Sense and Sensibility.

          • cait0716 says:

            I think I enjoyed reading Emma a whole lot more for having watched Clueless so many times growing up. I kept comparing the stories, trying to figure out who was who and why they changed this or that.

          • arctic_hare says:

            I totally agree, Clueless is awesome. Much love for that version of S&S, too.

          • monkeybutter says:

            <img src=""&gt;
            It's pretty much perfect!

            That Sense & Sensibility is great, too. Another amazing cast!

          • lyvanna says:

            Clueless is awsome. That and 10 Things I Hate About You are my go-to teen comedies.

            Speaking of Austen, I quite enjoy the 1995 Ciarán Hinds/Amanda Root version of Persuasion as well. And the Ciarán Hinds/Samantha Morton version of Jane Eyre (yes, I know this is Bronte). Maybe I just am obsessed with Ciarán Hinds…

            I also find I like most of the adaptations of Thomas Hardy's work more than the books themselves (Jude, Tess of the D'Urbervilles – '98 tv series, Far From The Madding Crowd – '98 tv series) but maybe that's because I can take more grimness on film/tv than in books.

        • Quandary says:

          Love the 2005 Pride&Prejudice, too. Beautiful and, I believe, true to the spirit of the book, even with the inevitable alterations.

        • @Micorku says:

          I feel the opposite about Kick-Ass: despite what Mark Millar thought, then book was about how its pathetic and pointless to try and be a superhero in the real world. The movie changed it into a generic superhero movie. I was especially disappointed by the change in Big Daddy and Hit-Girl's backstory, and the change in Red Mist's character made him less interesting, I think. I also think that the fact that Kick-Ass was to blame for the bad stuff in the climax (trying to avoid spoilers) was a change for the worse. Also the thing that Kick-Ass used in the climax was HORRIBLE AND DUMB AND MADE NO SENSE.

          Sorry, I go into something of a rage when someone mentions the Kick Ass movie >.>

      • enigmaticagentscully says:

        Ah, I do love that movie, but I haven't read the graphic novel. Perhaps that's my problem, that when a film version IS better than the book, I've only ever seen the film anyway so I wouldn't know?

      • sabra_n says:

        Arguably, Catch-22, which didn't reproduce the plot of that book (such as it was) point-for-point, but did reproduce it in spirit, at least for me. The adaptation of The Cider House rules wasn't bad, either, though obviously it was massively cut in length. Of course, it helped that in that case the author adapted his own book.

        Then there's L.A. Confidential, a movie I absolutely adore – it also cut a lot from its book source, but it worked nonetheless and held on to the book's spirit.

      • FlameRaven says:

        I love the V for Vendetta movie mainly because of its gorgeous visuals. The stark white-black-red theme comes through so strongly, and I was really intrigued by how they manage to convey emotions with V's mask just by messing with the lighting. This is something that just doesn't come through as well with the comic, which suffers a lot from awful, pale 80's coloring. (Watchmen has this problem too, although it manages it better.)

        Also, I had to approve the changes made to how the policeman figured things out– that was a lot more realistic and credible than the comic version which… yeah, I don't even. It seems like a common thread with Alan Moore, maybe, that his comics are great and then suddenly at the end there is a massive WTF moment.

    • monkeybutter says:

      When Mark asked how amazing it would be to see Lord Asriel's fortress on screen, I thought of the Emerald City. Even though The Wizard of Oz film alters a lot of things from the books, it's a great visual adaptation and one of my favorite movies. I also like the way Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland combines elements from Lewis Carroll's two books. It's another fantastic visual adaptation, and I love it in its own rights as much as I love the stories.

      I've never read The Princess Bride, and I understand there are changes, but I think the film captures the reading experience in general really well! To Kill a Mockingbird is another of my favorite movies, and it (especially Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch) makes me appreciate the novel even more.

      • cait0716 says:

        I love The Princess Bride (movie)! Ir definitely captures the experience of reading, or being read to, or sharing a story. I bought the book recently and, as excited as I am to read it, I'm almost a little scared that the movie might lose some of it's magic.

        • Tilja says:

          Read the book, don't worry about the details. I also read it recently, it misses some things of course but in essence it keeps the story as the writer/director viewed them. You'll find the experience pleasant, I think. SInce the director is the same as the writer he carried to the screen what he intended for the book, even if it was somewhat shortened.

          • cait0716 says:

            You're right. And I will, of course, read it. Perhaps next week. 🙂

            Also, though William Goldman wrote both the book and the screenplay, Rob Reiner actually directed the movie. I'm sure it's a faithful adaptation.

            • Tilja says:

              Oh, right, it was writer/screenwriter only and the director someone else. I got it mixed up. It was kept true to the essence because the writer kept it so and also played with it. The book I have is the 25th anniversary edition with Buttercup's Baby at the end of it. It's aswesome.

            • Meg says:

              I don't think Simon Morgenstern would like to hear you saying that William Goldman "wrote" it. It's a beautiful abridgment, though of course nothing is as beautiful as the original.

        • monkeybutter says:

          I'm almost a little scared that the movie might lose some of it's magic.


          I really want to read the book, too! I was kind of holding off in hopes that Mark might do it in the future (it's on the suggestions page), but I think I might have go ahead on my own.

          • cait0716 says:

            If Mark reads it, it will just give me an excuse to re-read. I don't think he has anything on the table that I haven't already read/watched on my own at this point. But I'm really looking forward to second (or 20th, in the case of Buffy) peek at the material with more attention to detail.

            • monkeybutter says:

              Re-examinations are lots of fun. I never finished The Hobbit, never started LOTR, and I've been meaning to watch BSG for a while, so I think I'll get my fill of going-along-with-Mark soon enough.

            • arctic_hare says:

              Me too. I never get tired of Sandman, for example, and it lends itself so well to rereads, so I'm really looking forward to going through it again with him.

              • notemily says:

                Every time someone I know is reading Sandman, I get all nostalgic and jealous of them that they are Experiencing it for the First Time. Then I go re-read it. 🙂

                • arctic_hare says:

                  Yeah, I can't wait to see Mark going through it for the first time, I hope others will join him. 🙂 It'd be nice to experience it for the first time again myself, but I will at least get that vicariously through him. 😀

                  • notemily says:

                    That's what Mark Reads is all about, isn't it? I mean, for those of us who have read these things before.

                    • arctic_hare says:

                      Yeah, that's what hooked me in the first place: being able to relive my first time through Harry Potter through Mark's eyes. The first two books were really fun to see his POV on, but what really did it for me was PoA, because it was so spooky to see all my reactions perfectly mirrored, particularly towards the end of the book. It took me back to that emotional place when I was just discovering the series myself, and that was so lovely a thing, because how often do you get something like that? I'm around for good thanks to that. 😀

            • notemily says:


              I may be a little excited for Mark Watches Buffy.

              *runs off*

          • pica_scribit says:

            The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favourite books. I love fantasy that does not take itself too seriously, or contains meta elements. But I read <a href="">this essay about the story a couple years back that completely blew my mind and convinced me that Goldman is an utter, utter genius.

        • notemily says:

          The book has a different tone from the movie. The movie is all about being a kid and imagining this awesome fantasy, while the book is more snarky and makes fun of fantasy a bit. It's got this weird framing story about it being an "abridged" version of the original with the boring parts taken out.

      • @maybegenius says:

        Yes, The Princess Bride is probably one of the best book-to-film adaptations I've ever seen. It keeps the feel of the world and the storyline and the characters almost perfectly intact.

        • Reading the Princess Bride "Buttercup's Baby" excerpt totally ruined the movie magic for me. Wesley crapped all over Buttercup for daring to sort of move on with her life after thinking he was dead in The Princess Bride, yet in Buttercup's Baby you find out that while he was a pirate he was out having sex with other women because "these things just happened?" I just can't even think of the movies the same way again after that.

          I'm especially sad that a fictional work that is basically about a bunch of amazing dudes and one woman with no personality or agency whatsoever was written for his daughters who wanted princess stories. And I say this as someone who lists "The Princess Bride" as a favorite film. I love it, but it also pisses me off in a lot of ways.

      • flootzavut says:

        OH YES! The Princess Bride… how could I forget? The book is fab and the film is wonderful 🙂

      • PeacockDawson says:

        A brilliant movie and a brilliant book! While the film will always have a special place in my childhood I did enjoy the book immensely. Exactly my brand of comedy.

    • Gillyweed says:

      For me it's Lord of the Rings (I even prefer Two Towers to books), The Princess bride (read the book, movie couldn't be better adaptation), Pride and prejudice 1995, Sense and sensibility with Emma Thompson as well, and Stardust. I'm so fond of that film, and I think they did pretty good job including important parts of the book. 🙂

      • flootzavut says:

        I loved Stardust – the movie and film are quite different in places aren't they, but I actually think so many of the changes made things work better on screen that it's hard to fault!

        • I enjoyed Stardust the movie, but I can't love it because they changed the ending, which never fails to give me chills and tears when I read the graphic novel. Oh, Neil. How so awesome?

      • notemily says:

        Stardust is allright, but I like the book better, especially since it contains Charles Vess's illustrations (or at least, the original and best version did). Also, they inserted a gay pirate for no reason, which, while fun, was kind of like "wait, what? why?" when I was watching the movie.

      • notemily says:

        Also, I can't enjoy Stardust as much since I realized it's a pretty sexist story. The heroine is incapacitated the entire time by her broken leg and needs to be rescued by the hero. The other women are conniving, seductive, and manipulative. Or they're old hags.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      To name a few!

      – Both adaptations of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and No Country For Old Men.
      The Silence of the Lambs
      Jurassic Park
      Fight Club (Of which I am not necessarily the biggest fan of the movie/book, and I'm tired of Palahniuk in general, but the adaptation was done REALLY well.)
      The Shining (I am aware King hates this, and I can't believe I'm disagreeing with the author, but I simply ADORE Kubrick's adaptation of the novel. What it changed it STILL got right.)

      • monkeybutter says:

        I forgot Jurassic Park and The Shining! I also like Kubrick's adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, even though Burgess wasn't exactly pleased with Kubrick (hmm, that happens a lot). Dr. Strangelove is my absolute favorite movie, also an adaptation, though I've never read the book and I think it takes a lot of liberties. For the best, of course. Stanley Kubrick: master book adapter and author irritant.

        ETA: I forgot 2001: A Space Odyssey. I know it bores some people, but I adore it.

        • lossthief says:

          To be fair, Burgess isn't exactly a big fan of A Clockwork Orange. To this day he still considers it worthless compared to his other works, and feels the people who enjoy it do so out of some pornographic delight. He even says as much in "A Clockwork Orange Resucked"

      • flootzavut says:

        I didn't even know Fight Club started as a book!

        I first saw that movie in Russian. Strange but true! The film broke just at the point where shit was about to hit the fan and it was soooooooooo frustrating having to wait to find out what the hell was going on!

      • pennylane27 says:


    • pica_scribit says:

      I've always thought that, apart from a couple of truly heinous musical numbers, "The Last Unicorn" was an almost perfect rendering of an amazing book.

      Oh, and of course I will never, ever get tired of watching "I, Claudius".

      • flootzavut says:

        I think I watched The Last Unicorn as a child, but not since, and never knew it was a book at all!

        • It is, and it's got a whole different tone in places from the movie. It's almost a satire of fantasy tropes at times. You should check it out!

          I watch I, Claudius every year or two. When it came out on TV, my mom sat the family down in front of it and told us to watch it because it was "culture," as she called it. Which it is. It is also awesome on toast points. I've loved/feared John Hurt ever since.

        • arctic_hare says:

          I second the recommendation for reading The Last Unicorn. Beautiful, beautiful book. And Peter S. Beagle wrote a short story sequel to it that's also wonderful (it's called "Two Hearts", and I read it in his short story collection The Line Between).

      • ldwy says:

        Wow, I LOVED The Last Unicorn as a child, but I had no idea it was a book!

        • pica_scribit says:

          It is an excellent, beautiful, occasionally silly, occasionally sad book that will always occupy a special place on my shelf and in my heart. Molly Grue will never *not* make me cry.

    • rumantic says:

      "Holes" was fantastic.

      • ungala says:

        Came here to say this! I think "Holes" is the most faithful adaptation of a book to a screenplay I've ever seen, and the book itself is one of my favorites. Almost nothing was taken out or added in, and it touched on all the great dialogue and plot points, and brought Camp Green Lake to life so well.

    • hazelwillow says:

      There are two movies made from books which I think are better than the books they came from: East of Eden (with James Dean, which dramatizes the last 3rd of the book but manages to convey the entire meanings and themes of the book even better than the book itself, makes better use of its characters, and is utterly brilliant in every way), and What's Eating Gilbert Grape (with a young Leonardo di caprio and Johnny Depp) which condenses the book into an even purer form of its own story.

      The Lord Of The Rings adaptations are also excellent, IMO. They are just so skillfully put together.

    • hassibah says:

      The only adaptations I really liked were of books that I thought were pretty meh. Mediocre books make good movies, good books can't be adapted imo. But I won't name names to avoid offending people.

    • lbookwurm says:

      I actually prefer the Joy Luck Club as a movie. Ironically enough, so does my mother.

    • @sab39 says:

      Watchmen. The change they made to the ending made the plot overall a lot more coherent; the book version of the twist ending was a lot more convoluted. There was definitely a lot of richness in the book's world-building that the movie missed, but for me, world-building should be in service to the plot, rather than vice-versa.

      So better plot but weaker world-building trumps weaker plot but richer world-building, in my opinion.

      And of course Watchmen is a story where the visuals, even in the book, are supremely cinematic. The movie did a very good job of preserving and enhancing that aspect. The choice of songs for the soundtrack really added to the movie as well, and that's something a book can't do of course.

      • sabra_n says:

        I thought the movie missed the whole point of the comic, though, philosophically speaking. But then again, not everyone agrees with my POV about the point of Watchmen, so. 😛

        For me, a huge part of the book is that it doesn't like superheroes. Or at least that it's saying, "When placed in a realist context with sociopolitical consciousness, people who dress in masks and act as superheroes are inevitably wrong in the head and ultimately bad for the world, and so we need to move past superhero stories if we're to make comics about the world as it is today." Superheroes aren't cool. Rorschach most definitely isn't cool. But the film (and probably most fans of the book, TBH) see things quite differently, so. Heh.

        • @sab39 says:

          Interesting, I wholeheartedly agree with you that that's the point of the story, but I got that same vibe from the movie just as strongly as from the book!

          I think the thing about Rorshach – and most of the rest of them [originally I put 3 other names here, but in case Mark hasn't read it I won't, not that character names are really spoilers] – is that they're all simultaneously completely badass and completely awful, awful people that you are really *glad* don't actually exist in the real world.

          A little like Lord Asriel, perhaps (to drag this thread kicking and screaming back on topic), only with less ambiguity – with Asriel, at least we can have some degree of confidence that, however awful he is being, he's being awful in what really *does* seem to be a just cause. Watchmen never gives you anything like that. Everyone is just awful. But badass. But awful. The discomfort of the fact that you're simultaneously completely horrified but also can't avoid a part of yourself cheering their BAMF-ness is I think the whole genius of both the book and the movie.

      • notemily says:

        See, for me, Watchmen HAS to be a comic book. It just doesn't work in any other medium. The mirrored stories, the world-building and clues going on in the background of every panel, none of that translates to film. The movie was OK, but ultimately dissatisfying for me. I think some of the characters fell completely flat on film though, and the casting… not great.

        • arctic_hare says:

          Yeah, one of my major pet peeves with Watchmen is that Laurie was so marginalized and so much of her character development was cut out in the theatrical version.

    • flootzavut says:

      LOTR and Chocolat are the two movies where (in LOTR) the movies did justice to the spirit of the books and (in Chocolat) I actually preferred the movie to the book.

      The new Narnia films as far as I've seen have been pretty good, but only having seen the first two and only once each, I'm reserving judgment.

      • cait0716 says:

        Chocolat is one of my favorite movies, though I've never read the book. The movie just makes me so happy on every level

        • flootzavut says:

          I love the movie – there is so much to love about it, the cast, Johnny Depp looking hot, CHOCOLATE, an Elvis-dancing priest, funky jazz, CHOCOLATE… when I read the book it was a huge disappointment. I've read several Joanne Harris books since and have had to conclude that I just don't like how she writes, but hey, the book span off a hugely enjoyable movie, so… it could be worse, right?

      • RoseFyre says:

        I would say that I actually prefer the first Narnia movie (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) to the book, as the added scenes are all useful and well-done. (Seriously, getting to SEE the big battle is way better than the one page of description in the book.)

        Prince Caspian…again, I prefer the movie to the book, but for entirely different reasons – the book's plot is very loose in some places, while the movie changes those bits of the plot, but makes a compelling story.

        As for Voyage of the Dawn Treader…well. I like the movie, but in that case, I think I prefer the book. Some of what they added was not done at all well, and there were bits that were cut that weren't major, but would've been nice to see. However, it is still a good movie – Reepicheep and Eustace were both incredibly well done – but not as good as the others, I don't think. Didn't stop me from buying all three of them, anyway.

        (Trying to avoid spoilers as I know Mark has the books on his reading list, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does a movie watch after each book.)

    • PeacockDawson says:

      I liked the movie of Interview With the Vampire MORE than I liked the book, which is so out of the norm for me.
      Also, The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy movie gets a bad rap but it I enjoyed it despite its faults.

      But usually I will stick with the subject matter to the death. I can never enjoy watching any of the Harry Potter movies. Uhg, I dislike them.

      • Aww, I will defend the Hitchhiker movie to my dying day. It's so fun, and so in the spirit of Douglas Adams — I wish it got more love.

        • momigrator says:

          As someone who read the entire "Hitchhikers" series, I was disappointed with the movie. I thought it was enjoyable, but it was not nearly in line with how witty and amusing the books were. Still, that would be a hard feet to pull off…

      • notemily says:

        Count me among Hitchhiker's Guide movie fans! It was so silly and great. The field of things that would smack you when you had an idea was so completely true to the spirit of the books. And the scene where they're all yarn! And Martin Freeman! And Mos Def!

    • ninjac8 says:

      Hunt for Red October and The Patriot Game both by Tom Clancy were both well done as movies. God, I just remembered how much I loved to read Tom Clancy when I was in high school. I stopped reading his books after I met him though. I'm pretty sure I would have phased out of his books eventually because the subplots and descriptions of mundane details kept getting bigger and bigger and the plot itself less and less enjoyable. Man I was such a spy geek back then…

      • Red October is one of those movies that, when I finish it, I want to start over from the beginning right away. It's that good: action, characters, spy geekiness!

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      I just came back here to see what people had said regarding my book/film adaptation comment and it has 62 replies??

      <img src="; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

      Thanks for the discussion! That was kinda fun 😛

    • FlameRaven says:

      Stardust is also a fantastic book-to-film adaptation, and notable because it works despite massive changes and additions from the book. The book and the movie take the same plot and characters in two very different directions… but they have the same feel, and that makes them both work.

      Although I do quibble at the very end of Stardust, it was a solid movie overall.

    • LittleCaity says:

      Dunno about anyone else, but the recent BBC adaptions of Terry Pratchett novels have been delightfully bizarre. I especially enjoyed the 'Going Postal' adaption – I've never been terribly fond of it as a book, sheer blasphemy!, but I loved the adaption to death.

      • enigmaticagentscully says:

        BLASPHEMY! 😉 Going Postal is one of my favourite books!

        I enjoyed the adaptations for the most part, but I don't think Discworld really translates well to screen. Too much of it take place inside the protagonist's head, y'know?
        It was fun to see all the characters and settings and such, but I think you lose a lot of the heart of each story with a film adaptation.

        But I am a massive Pterry stan, so I don't think anything could measure up to the books for me.

        • notemily says:

          Discworld really doesn't translate well to screen, I don't think, although an animated version might work better. But I was really excited when I saw someone had cast Sean Astin as Twoflower in The Color of Magic TV movie. I know by rights Twoflower should be Chinese, but SEAN ASTIN as the ultimate tourist? Yes plz.

    • Kelly says:

      Hmm, let's see, my favorite book to movie adaptation:

      Princess Bride. Love
      I hated LOTR as a book series, but I LOVED the movies (and partially because I was in New Zealand right after they finished principal photography and have been to a few of the locations they filmed at…seriously y'all, GO to New Zealand. It's stunning) Especially love the extended versions. I thought they did a good job cutting away the unnecessary stuff and PJ and Weta really did an amazing job creating the world.
      LOVED the BBC version of P&P, don't think any other version is worth the film it took to make it. In fact, I watched the BBC version to try and get out of reading it for school and enjoyed it so much that I went out and picked up the book. I'm still amazed at how closely it follows the book.

      Also, I know it was a graphic novel and not a book, but I loved 300. A lot of the flack that movie gets is because of its more fantastical elements because people don't realize it's based as much on a graphic novel as the actual event. Me and a friend, who is also a history nut, sat down one day with the graphic novel in front of us and watched it and it's incredible how well the filmmakers matched certain shots to the comic frames.

    • momigrator says:

      I thought the adaptation of "Speak" was actually better than the book itself. They changed a few things here and there, but it just worked better as a story. Still, I will always love both the movie version and book version forever and ever.

      • notemily says:

        Speak! That was a great one! I don't know if I'd say it's better than the book since that's one of my favorite books of all time, but I loved Kristin Stewart in the movie. (Which is why when she got cast as Bella Swan and everyone started insulting her, I was like "wait, what are you talking about? She's actually a good actress!")

    • VicarPants says:

      In my opinion, at least, the Merchant Ivory adaptation of Howards End was about as close to flawless as an adaptation can get.

  2. summeriris says:

    Can I say how much I deeply, deeply love the Gallivespians. This may be surprising that I speak as a practising Christian but I love these books so much. I think these books celebrate God's greatest gifts to us, that of free will and the ability to love other people and beings.

    • samibear says:

      It's interesting to me that you say that, because just yesterday, as I was going through the paper, I found a small section of fans comments on the new Harry Potter film. Some liked it, some didn't, but right at the bottom of the page was one comment that said something like: 'I'm a Christian, so I completely avoid books that include witchcraft or magic'. And once I got over the utter confusion at that comment or what it was doing there, I immediately thought of these books and thought: 'Well, if you can't handle Harry Potter then there's no way you could read these'.

      It's this kind of attitude that I don't understand. I'm a Christian as well, but I don't understand why some people can't even read fictional stories about something that may be a bit different. I mean, HP is a complete fantasy, and there are still major religious parallels in it. There are no satanic worshippers, no one's bashing Jesus. What's the problem?


      • samibear says:

        As far as these books are concerned, yes, I can understand why it might be a bit much for hardcore Christians. But it's as you said, these books celebrate some of the best things in life, and set to put an end to all the pain and suffering that has been caused by the church. Even as a Christian, it seems to me that you have to be able to acknowledge the damage that has been done over the years by the church in the name of God.

        To me, this story is empowering, thought-provoking and enlightening. And it makes me sad that some people won't even give things like this a try.

        • Sarah S says:

          I hate to say it, but there are always people who decide something is advocating terrible things without bothering to actually understand what was actually said or written. When Python's Life of Brian came out there was a massive backlash because many in the Catholic church claimed that Python were making fun of Christ by making Brian out to be Christ. Which is ridiculous, because if you watch the movie they make it clear he's not when Brian goes to watch the Sermon on the Mount. How could they be saying he's Christ, when Jesus is *over there*? But they don't want to a) pay attention to what's actually said, or b) read it themselves lest they be tempted into Bad Things.

          • Sarah S says:

            Continued from above.

            Mostly the second is because so many people are so terribly misinformed by those whom they trust as authority, their reactions become reasonable from the fact that someone they trust implicitly gave them a bad foundation to base their approach from.

            As to the comments below about Harry Potter versus other fantasy, I suspect that is based in definition of terms alone. Those who declare HP evil are basing it on the definition of witch as being, "someone who sold their soul to the devil in order to gain unnatural paranormal abilities." And it really is the use of the word witch that causes all the trouble. If they were wizards and wizardesses or some other term there probably wouldn't be the backlash. But the bible says, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Therefore, Hermione is evil. Say I playing devil's advocate. I make no comments on my actual opinions of HP characters.

      • hassibah says:

        Yeah, I met one of these types for the first time the other day. What I find really weird is that a lot of the Christians that won't touch Harry Potter seem to adore Lord of the Rings.

        • Tolkien and Lewis have to be laughing about that in Heaven right now.

        • flootzavut says:

          THAT DRIVES ME SO MAD! I think HP is just too popular for some people… because I can't really pinpoint anything that could be considered "unchristian" in HP that isn't paralleled in some way in LOTR. Wizards – check. Magic – check. People who aren't perfect saving the world – check.

          (This last seems to be some people's major problem – that Harry becomes a "saviour" through his sacrifice, etc, even though he is only an imperfect human: but both Aragorn and Frodo, in their different ways, sacrifice much and take part in saving their world, and they are human and imperfect too. And I don't see the big problem with it in the first place anyway.)

      • flootzavut says:

        ^ as another Christian, I agree. I also find it incredibly frustrating when Christians bash HP and other things having never read it or watched any of the movies and with no idea of the content of the books on the grounds that "they promote witchcraft". Heck, you could say the same of a whole raft of children's books if you think setting a fantasy book in a world that has magic is somehow promoting satanism. I just find it very weird… and it also generally makes people look stupid, which makes other Christians, by extension, look stupid, and then you find people assuming you are clueless/uninformed/what have you BECAUSE you are a Christian. Which doesn't do anyone any favours 🙁

      • notemily says:

        I'm absolutely baffled by that attitude. I always want to be like "You do know it's NOT REAL, right? It's MADE UP? Your kids aren't going to start practicing dark magic because there is no such thing as magic?"

    • Partes says:

      I think it's fantastic that you've looked past the obvious to try and see the underlying message in these things. It's easy for people to hear something – say, that a book contains the death of God – and categorize the story which contains the questionable material as in the "against my beliefs" category. Even if that was true, there's so much to be gained by reading other's viewpoints, especially if they're diometrically opposed to your own.

      I like the end of that paragraph, by the way. That's a great succint summarization of the themes I find most universally applicable from these books.

      • flootzavut says:

        "Even if that was true, there's so much to be gained by reading other's viewpoints, especially if they're diometrically opposed to your own."

        Forgive the slightly facetious way of saying it, given the conversation… but AMEN! 😉 🙂 😀

        • ninjac8 says:

          I'm Catholic, but I'm all for understanding other people's point of view. I usually term myself as a Bad Catholic because I hardly agree with a lot of the politics, but the core values and beliefs are right up my alley. My parents, sometime around '94 when I went off to college, became the kind of Catholics that think something like Harry Potter is evil without actually reading it. They also thought Pokemon was the devil. I laugh though because I was out of the house by then 🙂 The strange thing was that I was the catalyst for this because I started asking questions about my faith (having been raised Catholic, but not hard core), and then going to a strict Catholic college.

  3. cait0716 says:

    Lord Asriel's an interesting guy. He seems to have forsaken any emotion in favor of rational thought. I thought it was striking that he didn't get mad at the man who accidentally accelerated Baruch's death. Whether he cared for Baruch or not, he missed out on some vital information there. But he doesn't get mad. He just reassures the guy that he couldn't have known and finds another way to get that information. I admire this more than a leader who lashes out at people for the smallest mistakes. Lord Asriel takes it too far, though. He has such a single-minded focus on his goal that he doesn't let anything, including feelings, get in the way. It's almost tragic.

  4. Jaya says:

    Oops, first attempt failed…I'll try again.

    Chapter 5 Epigraph!

    <img src=""&gt;

    • Tilja says:

      Thanks again for the image. I love these quotes, they tell simply the theme of the chapter.

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Why are your epigraphs so pretty 🙁

        Mine are not 🙁

        • theanagrace says:

          Agreed, the ones in my edition are just printed in. No pretty fonts or formatting.

          Thanks Jaya for posting the images!

    • knut_knut says:

      my copy didn't come with epigraphs 🙁 so thank you for posting them!!

    • pica_scribit says:

      Paradise Lost may be one of the most beautiful works ever composed in the English language. I've long thought that, if I ever have children, this will be the first thing I read to them. I can't think of a better introduction to the beautiful sounds of our language.

      • IsabelArcher2 says:

        Just make sure that when you come to the many "He for God only, she for God in him" parts, you explain that Milton had some women issues on account of his time and the fact that his first wife straight up left him right after their marriage. Also, if you want to see some… complicated… uses of the English language, check out his Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce.

        • pica_scribit says:

          I think any sort of explanation would probably go right over the head of the average infant!

    • Milton: fuck, yeah. (Says the woman with the Paradise Lost username.)

      The first paragraph of this chapter echoes the epigraph on the series: an angel standing on the brink of a long and dangerous flight. But very different angels, with very different goals. I've always loved those little callbacks.

  5. monkeybutter says:

    Lord Roke! I don't care that the Gallivespians are known for being foppish jerks, Lord Roke rides a blue hawk. I also love that Lady Salmakia is pretending to be the embodiment of Wisdom. Oh, those rogues.

    I wish Baruch could have hung around longer and we could have seen more of him. The line about the love of Balthamos being a gift kills me.

    • Partes says:

      I also love that Lady Salmakia is pretending to be the embodiment of Wisdom. Oh, those rogues.

      I snickered so hard at that. Judging what we know of the Gallivespians, you just know that she's loving every second of it.

      "I am a messenger from God. Worship me. If you ask why I am so short, I shall spur your eyes out. Mwha ha ha."

  6. Jenny_M says:

    Something I thought was interesting in this chapter is that when the steward comes in and causes Baruch to finally die, you would expect Lord Asriel to lose his shit and yell at the guy. Instead he very calmly tells him that it's not his fault. That, combined with the fact that he treats Baruch so gently and compassionately, is VERY interesting when you consider how he regards people as instruments as opposed to, well, people. He is an extremely well-developed character, is basically what I'm saying. I wish I could be more articulate about it!

    • enigmaticagentscully says:

      Yeah, that is pretty interesting. I think maybe the point is that Lord Asriel doesn't ever do anything unnecessary. He doesn't yell at the steward because it wasn't his fault, and it wouldn't have changed anything. He killed Roger because it was a necessary part of his work. Everything he does, whether we see it as good or evil, is very focused on his goal. I see Asriel as a very controlled man – though he might have fits of temper, I doubt he does anything without thinking it through and planning first.

      • sabra_n says:

        He's impersonally rather than actively cruel – the latter is more Mrs. Coulter's domain. Between them, though, they have a big old chunk of interpersonal depravity covered. 😛

  7. Mauve_Avenger says:


    Pretty sure these aren't trout, but it'll have to do: <img src=""&gt;

    A couple of theories on the etymology of "Gallivespian." Vespian is clearly a reference to wasps (Lord Roke's stingers), but the first part of the name is a bit less certain. My first thought was that it's related to gallo for rooster, referring to the Gallivespians' cockiness. Another possibility is that it's a reference to/play on gall wasps, the ones that create those little puffballs on oak trees. Perhaps Gallivespians create plant galls in the course of their development as well, or perhaps it's just a reference to their "galling" temperament.

  8. Tilja says:

    Don’t pity Lord Asriel. He deserves no pity and he certainly doesn’t want it.

    The problem with fighting a moral war is that you seem to be forced to be as ruthless and cruel as the gang you’re fighting against, you need to be in the same level as those you’re facing in order to bring them down. It’s like it’s always done this way, the fighters don’t care about the higher stakes their fight accomplish, they only need to care about the fight and forget there’s something they’re fighting for, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to continue in that destructive path. So yeah, Lord Asriel is made for that fight, he cares only for his fight and that’s actually how it’s supposed to be. The fact that he’s a human being is just a side effect of his role, nothing more.

    We don’t need to pity him. Just cheer for his side not to lose, that’s all he can ever accomplish. You can tell I have no sympathy for him.

    I don’t want to comment on this because it makes me so sad but BARUCH, DEAR BARUCH :'(

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Tilja says:

      To the mods or someone who can understand html shenanigans: the comment above doesn't show any Edit or Delete button, it's like it's not even written by me. I believe this is the reason why I can't see sometimes those options. Can anyone tell why this happens only occasionally being connected to IntenseDebate? I am connected, otherwise it wouldn't take my name. How does it look from a mod pov?

      Just thought of pointing it out now that I can find an example of what I was talking about the other day.

      • arctic_hare says:

        From my POV, the comment has your avatar showing, but not the little WordPress symbol that's showing up on the one in this comment that I'm replying to; and your name is not a link that can be clicked. It's pretty weird, I'm not really sure why that happens sometimes. Sorry!

        • Tilja says:

          Btw, what's WordPress Hashcash? Maybe that has something to do with it, I've seen it around before but not in mine more than twice..

          • arctic_hare says:

            I have no idea. I've seen it before too, but I'm not sure what kind of error produces it.

            • Tilja says:

              So I googled the term to find out more on it and there's an answer as to perhaps why it shows up.

              This is from (initial text transcribed):

              WP Hashcash is an antispam plugin that eradicates comment spam on WordPress blogs. It works because your visitors must use obfuscated javascript to submit a proof-of-work that indicates they opened your website in a web browser, not a robot. If the javascript check fails, WP Hashcash now gives you three options; it can either put the comment into moderation (default), put the comment in the akismet queue, or delete it.
              WP Hashcash also protects the signup forms of WordPress Multi-User (WPMU) and BuddyPress (BP) blogs.

              From Hashcash. org itself:

              Hashcash is a denial-of-service counter measure tool. Its main current use is to help hashcash users avoid losing email due to content based and blacklist based anti-spam systems.

              A hashcash stamp constitutes a proof-of-work which takes a parameterizable amount of work to compute for the sender. The recipient can verify received hashcash stamps efficiently.

              This might mean that the javascript got all wonky (not surprising, my internet server has been trolling all its users since time immemorial and yesterday was just one of those days) and didn't allow the recognition from this WP plugin. It says the comment goes into moderation, does that mean it's still awaiting approval?

              Thought I might share in case it's useful 🙂

  9. tesla says:

    I was just thinking recently about how these books likely won't ever get a good film adaptation, but the audiobooks are good substitutes – it's been said here a lot but they really are excellent. The acting is wonderful and Pullman's narration really adds a lot of depth. They can't fully replace a well-done film, but they certainly are better than what we've been given so far.

    New additions to the list of awesome names from this series – Lady Salmakia, Chevalier Tialys

  10. stellaaaaakris says:

    This is the book that made me want to be a screenwriter when I was young. I so dearly wanted to see these things on screen. And I wanted the books I loved so very much to reach other people who would then be intrigued to buy the books and then I would finally have people to talk to with about books. Being a bookworm in a world of technology can be lonely. But, yeah, the images Pullman described just made me want to see it on screen and I wanted to be sure they didn't mess it up so I wanted to write the screenplays myself. I have since changed career goals (watching movie after movie not do justice to the books was a bit disheartening – there are so few exceptions) but I still have deep emotional attachment to movies based on books.

    We used to say this in French class all the time! Je te frappe avec une poisson. Well, it's more like, "I'm slapping you with a fish" but I feel like the sentiment is the same, and in another language!

    We didn't know Baruch very well, but I still feel his death dearly probably because of how much time Will and Balthamos have spent together. I don't think Balthamos is going to be as snarky as he was now that his angel boyfriend of thousands of years has died :'(

  11. Partes says:

    No matter what else you can say about Lord Asriel, he's an amazing leader for his army. He's charismatic, comes off as compassionate (LOL) and looks at every detail with a clear head, always bearing in mind how it fits into the big picture.

    It feels weird calling him a badass, because he's also cruel and a terrible father. But… he just kind of is. It's probably strange that I liked how his glare intensified to the point of knocking a guy backwards the second his daughter was being lorded against him.

    Once again, he's a dick… but he's also fascinating and fierce. I want to root for him, but seriously, what an asshole, but then again look at all he's accomplished but then Lyra but Will's going to him jfdkhsfdkgdsgfjkghf

    I'm a sucker for unclear motivations and characters, what can I say. Hello Mrs Coulter.

    Plus, snow leopard daemon.

    <img src=""&gt;


    • Kate says:

      Just wanted to pop in and agree with this comment. *thumbs up!*
      Also, good lord that is an adorable leopard, I'mma right-click-save.

    • Hilariously, I was skimming your comment and saw the facesmash and my immediate reaction was to highlight it and copy it into rot13…which did not produce legible results.

      • Partes says:

        It's actually in code.

        No really.

        First person to figure it out gets a daemon.

        I bet that last bit gets someone to try and decipher my meaningless giberish.

    • flootzavut says:

      Snow leopard <333333333333

      That is all.

  12. Brieana says:

    Heyy… I found this on Pullman's Q&A

    Hello, i love your books (all of them) and specifically like His Dark Materials. i have two questions for you, 1. I'v read in interviews and other writings that you liked and grew up with comics and I wondered if you had ever considered having his Dark Materials made into one or if anyone has already offered? 2. Do you read and enjoy other books like His Dark Materials that deal with religion in the way yours do, such as Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchett? Thanks, Everett


    Thanks, Everett. Yes, your guess is a good one: I love comics, and I have considered at least three proposals to turn HDM into a graphic novel. I haven’t said yes yet because I wasn’t happy with some aspect of what was being suggested – the length, or the writer, or the artist, or something else. If the right combination of writer (because I haven’t got time to do it myself) and artist comes along, backed by a publisher who will give the project enough space, then I’d be delighted to say yes. As for the second part of your question – yes, I enjoy the work both of Pratchett and Gaiman. Admirable writers, both of them.

    • Brieana says:

      So should I read Good Omens? I checked American Gods out the other day since some of you people keep mentioning it.

      • cait0716 says:

        Yes. Yes, you should. Some of the themes are actually similar to HDM – war between Heaven and Hell, free will vs destiny – but Good Omens is 10000x funnier. Honestly, laugh out loud funny, even the 5th time I read it.

        • Tilja says:

          You're a truthsayer. I also watched Dogma yesterday and all you people were right; it's fabulous! So many of HDM concepts are in there but from a Good Omens kind of perspective that I couldn't stop laughing. Good Omens is the logical next step after HDM.

      • Darth_Ember says:

        Yes, a thousand times over. Read Good Omens. It is fantastic.

      • arctic_hare says:

        Yes, you absolutely should, it's a fantastic book. 😀

      • flootzavut says:

        Yes. Just yes. It's bloody brilliant, clever, and very very funny 🙂

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:




  13. Darth_Ember says:

    Poor Baruch. Poor Balthamos.

    Balthamos gave up his heavenly place out of love for a man (who if Baruch as we've seen him now is consistent with how he was when mortal, was kind, compassionate and gentle, and eased Balthamos' harshness with his sweetness) who became an angel. They had that. They had those thousands of years together.
    (And as a side note Balthamos seems more awesome once one assumes he pretty much defied heaven for love.)

    But… it's gone, now. Just like that. It's just so incredibly tragic to me.

  14. Brieana says:

    "Christ, and he’s never going to see the one angel he’s loved for THOUSANDS OF YEARS."
    At least they had that brief time together.

    My brother and I heard about the gay angels before we started reading because of this.

  15. BradSmith5 says:

    PF, Mark, we are only five chapters in; there is still PLENTY of time to screw everything up. I'll agree that, so far, this is a definite contender for "best written trilogy," though. Yeah, I know what you're thinking––nothing can top "The Q Continuum" series, where Q and Picard face the supreme challenge. But, y'know, anything can happen.

    • Becky_J_ says:

      I had the same thought…. " Oh, Mark, how lovely that you think that everything will be wonderful and nothing will hurt. We are just getting started!"


      • BradSmith5 says:

        Oh, I don't have any problem with tragic events. The only thing that will ruin this for me is bad writing–like if Pullman were to get too preachy or something. And I'm a bit worried about characters like Asriel and Coulter; their motivations are confusing and contradictory. It's the kind of thing that could end up either blowing my mind or falling apart in a hopeless mess. I can't wait to see which!

        I like those pictures on your site, by the way. Never have I seen a more perfect Angelina!

        • Becky_J_ says:

          Good point, that probably is more what he was referencing. Although it's hard to imagine Pullman all of a sudden channeling Smeyer…. oh god…. too scary to imagine….

          Thank you so much! Your comment made my day 🙂 as an art major, it makes me smile to know that people like my work!

        • notemily says:

          I'm reminded of the time when we were reading Harry Potter and you (pretty sure it was you) were like "ok, just as long as the climax of this book doesn't revolve around obscure wand-lore." I'm just saying, be careful what you don't wish for. 🙂

          • BradSmith5 says:

            YES. That Elder Wand and the rules had me worried; it could have been a disaster. But it ended up being just complex enough so that I couldn't figure it out ahead of time, yet not SO absurd that it seemed implausible and tacked-on.

            Perhaps we'll have a similar situation with the thing mentioned in the title of this book? You know, the thing that hasn't shown up yet or ever been mentioned before, ha,ha,ha. 😉

    • IsabelArcher2 says:

      Really? Q and Picard? I can't really see that being much of a battle… unless it's a battle of wits! Is it a chess battle? Does Worf play a round? Does Ambassador Troi walk in an say "I sense that someone is concentrating," and then we all have a good laugh, because everyone knows she's just a pretend telepath/emotion-reader? You're right, this is a good series.

      • BradSmith5 says:

        No, Q and Picard have to team up against a gang of Q's old foes–all as powerful as Q himself! Many of these ancient enemies appeared in classic Trek episodes, bridging the old series with the new generation in ways that will make any dork scream for joy!

        Man, don't you wish you could write the summaries for books sometimes? I'm sure I just made it sound a million more times awesome than I remember it being.

        • enigmaticagentscully says:

          Actually, you are kind of making me want to read it.

          • BradSmith5 says:

            I'd recommend them if you're a Q fan. I thumbed through the books when I got home, and they didn't seem too bad. The last time I read 'em was like twelve years ago, so my standards might have changed a bit since then, ha, ha.

  16. arctic_hare says:

    Is it okay to state that this might be my favorite trilogy of all time at this point?

    Absolutely. It is a pretty fantastic trilogy, and if you love it more than any other, you have the right to feel that way and say so. I'm not sure what mine is, since I can be pretty indecisive about this stuff sometimes, but more power to you if you know for sure that this is yours. 😀 I do share your love for these books!

    I also feel the exact same way as you on film adaptations of books. I'm usually pretty skeptical and have been let down a lot (to the point where I just stopped watching the Potter films because I felt frustrated by what felt like a bunch of rush-jobs that preserved little of the soul of the books and got so many things important to me wrong). I get nervous about adaptations of favorite books unless I know they're in the right hands. Case in point: I'm only tentatively excited about the coming adaptations of Good Omens and American Gods, but I'm incredibly excited about The Hobbit because after how much I loved LOTR, I trust Peter Jackson to do a good job. On the other hand, though, it was a movie adaptation that introduced me to my favorite writer, as the movie got me interested in reading the book, and thus began a love affair with her work, which I am content with having no other films of, as the one that introduced me was not terribly accurate. (I speak, of course, of the inimitable Diana Wynne Jones and the Miyazaki version of Howl's Moving Castle which, while good on its own, is almost entirely a separate thing that doesn't bear much resemblance to the novel.) I do, though, know what you mean about seeing some of the stuff in this book rendered properly onscreen. I'll always just sigh sadly at the awfulness of the GC movie, because as much as I don't need a movie version of my favorite books, if they get one, they deserve to be good, and not mangled like that was.

    As for Lord Asriel, yes – this is exactly why I think that both of Lyra's parents suck. We've already seen what a monster Mrs. Coulter can be, many times over, so I won't rehash her misdeeds. Lord Asriel has been far less visible, but we've seen what a jerk he was in the Retiring Room, what he did at the end of GC, and now we see that he's entirely unapologetic for his actions at the North Pole and cares far less for Lyra as a person, as herself, than he does for her use to him. Ugh, he's disgusting, horrible father. He should hang out with Ozai and swap stories on how horrible they've been to their kids, amirite? Oh Lee, why couldn't you have survived and adopted Lyra and taken her far away from these awful people? :'(

    DAMN IT. I wanted more sassy gay angels.

    You and me both. 🙁 Oh, poor Baruch and Balthamos.

    • flootzavut says:

      Good Omens is being adapted??? I don't know whether to be excited or concerned…

      (FWIW, I always imagined Pratchett as Aziraphale and Gaiman as Crowley. I'm pretty sure that the authors' photo is meant to suggest that 😀 so it's hardly novel but it works for me :))

      • notemily says:

        Hasn't Terry Gilliam been trying to adapt Good Omens for, like, decades? And it keeps not happening because he's Terry Gilliam?

        • flootzavut says:

          I had not heard that, but that means nothing, I'm always way behind on these things. Well done, I think it could be amazing, but whether they would be able to capture how good the book is…

    • theanagrace says:

      I love Howl's Moving Castle both as a book and as Miyazaki's adaptation. They are both wonderful in their own ways. I really want to read and watch both of them now.

  17. Hanah_banana says:

    Is it terrible that I get too over-excited at the reference to Metatron being Enoch to be more than briefly sad these days about Baruch dying? I mean, I find it UNBELIEVABLY TRAGIC and everything but I can't loiter on the tragedy because OH MY GOD METATRON IS ENOCH THE ONLY HUMAN WHO NEVER DIED (according to the Bible) WHO WALKED WITH GOD AND THAT IS WHY THEY'RE BFFs OR WHATEVER BECAUSE THIS IS LIKE A REAL DIRECT BIBLICAL REFERENCE AND THAT IS SO EXCITING TO ME.

    I don't know why it's so exciting, especially when there have already been billions of bigger Biblical references like ADAM AND EVE and THE FALL, but I've always been intrigued by Enoch and why he was so ~super special~ and also not everyone has heard of him, whereas basically everyone (in the Western/Christian world anyway) knows about Adam and Eve. And I dunno, I guess I just like knowing that the things I obsess about have relevance beyond my brain thinking they're cool.

    Also, "slap me in the face with a trout" is the best expression of surprise ever and I will be appropriating that for the rest of my life.

    • Brieana says:


      I thought Elisha ascended into heaven. Or was it Elijah? I get the two mixed up.
      It was something that I heard back in fifth grade Bible class.

      • Elijah on his chariot of fire! Which will put the song from the movie in my head now…

        I think Elisha was the one who asked God to send a bunch of bears at some kids who made fun of him. 'Cause that's an appropriate use of your prophetness.

        …Ah, yes, here we go, from Wikipedia: "When a group of children from Bethel taunted the prophet for his baldness, Elisha cursed them in the name of God and two female bears came out of the forest and mauled 42 of them (2 Kings 2:23–25)." Jesus wept.

      • Hanah_banana says:

        Yeah technically he did ascend in a chariot of fire, but he is still considered within the Christian tradition to have died, whereas Enoch very definitely didn't die, he walked with God and then ascended. I do not really get the distinction but I think the fact that he has his own books in the Jewish tradition and is so important within rabbinic tradition makes him more significant in terms of being taken by God. Also I think Luke references him? Which makes him more important! Also being ascended is pretty much the most important thing that Enoch did, whereas Elijah cured the sick and brought a dead child back to life and other miraculous things, so he's remembered more for being an epic prophet.

  18. @GalFawkes says:

    Everyone's quick to condemn Mrs. Coulter when she does morally questionable things though she's actually shown some tenderness toward her daughter.
    But everyone goes on and on about how INTERESTING Lord Asriel is. Sure, he murdered his daughter's best friend and doesn't give a shit about her, but he's ~interesting and ~fights the good fight.
    Am I the only one who noticed this disparity?

  19. Appachu says:

    Is it weird that every time I see the word "Gallivespian" I want to read it as "Gallifreyan"?

  20. Pitseleh says:

    Personally I think His Darm Materials would make a brilliant animated fantasy epic. I always imagined the angels to have an etherial quality that just looks shitty whenever they attempt it with cgi bullshit. Which is basically to say: I wish they still made animated films.

    • Pitseleh says:

      His DARK Materials, ahahaha.

    • Kendall says:

      I agree, Miyazaki could do it brilliantly

      • enigmaticagentscully says:

        You know, usually I get annoyed at people jumping straight to Miyazaki as if he's the only person making good animated films out there. But in this case I think you're 100% right, it does seem like his kind of thing doesn't it? A young female protagonist, fantasy setting, strong messages of love and friendship.

        I'd like to see more books adapted into animation anyway.

        • @KendallwN says:

          There's even some environmentalist issues or him to play with. And the way animals were done in Princess Mononoke are exactly how I imagine Panserbjørn.The only thing that Miyazaki hasn't touched on before is the theist issues.

      • Evil Midnight Lurker says:

        The problem is that Ghibli NEVER does straight adaptations. Go read Howl's Moving Castle and The Farthest Shore, then watch Howl and Legends of Earthsea.

        They're great movies, but they're NOT the books.

        • notemily says:

          I think you mean Tales From Earthsea. Legends is the live-action adaptation that LeGuin hated.

          • hazelwillow says:

            LeGuin wasn't too fond of Tales From Earthsea either. I believe she didn't like how the characters were (relatively) not as darkskinned as they were supposed to be, and a very violent action that Arren commits in the first five minutes.

            Coincidentally, I saw Tales just last night, and I was a little perplexed by it. I mean, it was fine –an ok movie, but… there's so much more they could have done with those books! Crossing the land of the dead, for one thing…

        • Brieana says:

          "They're great movies, but they're NOT the books."

          I consider that a good thing though. I like it when directors put their own spin on things. If you want the something exactly like the books, I say read the books.

  21. pennylane27 says:

    Oh my dead god. PULLMAN YOU GENIUS BASTARD. How could you kill Baruch. HOW I ASK YOU. We only see the angels together what, one chapter? And yet I felt his death and what it would do to Balthamos, because in that one chapter, less even, Pullman makes you see their love for each other and it's so beautiful and it's just– I don't even know.

  22. ChronicReader91 says:

    This is my new favorite expression. I might use it from now on. Like, a lot.
    Lord Asriel definitely has zero compassion, or strong feelings of any kind, for anyone. The way he only gives Lyra a second of thought after finding out she’s “important” to the war that he’s waging just hammers that home.
    Poor Baruch. 🙁 And poor Balthamos, when he finds out. 🙁 I don’t imagine that will make him any more pleasant to be around, either, so poor Will as well.

  23. fizzybomb says:

    Hey, why doesn't The Amber Spyglass show up in the top bar? It's the same on Mark Watches, with Torchwood.

  24. hazelwillow says:

    I hate the part where Baruch dies. I really do.

    That is all.

  25. Lord Asriel fails forever the Granny Weatherwax Rule of Basic Ethics, which can be summarized very simply as "Don't treat people like things."

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