The first volume of Philip Pullman’s (1965, English) new fantasy trilogy will be released this week. La Belle Sauvage is the first part of the much-anticipated The Book of Dust trilogy, which inhabits the same parallel universe as Pullman’s earlier trilogy, His Dark Materials, in which heroine Lyra Belacqua leaves Jordan College (closely based on Exeter College) on an adventure that takes her to the North Pole, to the underworld, and even to the parallel version of Oxford which we inhabit.
The new book will be released on Thursday 19 October, coinciding with Pullman’s birthday. Pullman describes it as neither a prequel to His Dark Materials, nor a sequel, but an ‘equel’. He says ‘It’s a different story which begins roughly 10 years before His Dark Materials and ends roughly 10 years after.’ But he is keen to reassure readers that Lyra Belacqua remains at the story’s heart: ‘Events involving [Lyra] open the first chapter, and will close the last. I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College and, in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up.’
While Lyra may form the heart and pivotal character of the new trilogy, Pullman says the narrative at the centre of The Book Of Dust ‘is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and inquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free.’
Pullman has already drafted the second volume of The Book of Dust, but readers will have to wait patiently before their curiosity about Lyra’s story can be fully satisfied.