His Dark Materials is a series of books written by Philip Pullman. This is actually a trilogy, but it has five companion books that take place in the same universe. This book series won numerous awards, including the Carnegie medal in 1995, and the Whitbread Book of the Year for The Amber Spyglass in 2001. These fantasy books are classified as young adult fiction because their main characters are mostly children, but Pullman wrote them with no target audience in mind. Pullman’s shaped many young minds with this book series, and it is no surprise that it was ranked by readers third on the BBC’s The Big Read poll in 2003 of the nation’s best-loved novel of all time.
His Dark Materials tell the story of Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry, as they explore parallel universes. The first book called Northern Lights was adapted into a movie in 2007, named The Golden Compass starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. This movie was unable to start a movie trilogy due to its poor performance in the theatre, but in 2019 BBC and HBO released a TV series adaption that has been very book accurate so far.
How many His Dark Materials books are there?
There are three books in the original trilogy called His Dark Materials that ran from 1995 to 2000. The first book in the trilogy is called Northern Lights or The Golden Compass and it was published in 1995. The next book The Subtle Knife came out in 1997. The Amber Spyglass, the last book, was released in 2000. The trilogy is followed by three companion novellas set in the same universe: Lyra’s Oxford (2003), Once Upon a Time in the North (2008), and Serpentine (2020). In 2017 Pullman published La Belle Sauvage which is the first book in a new trilogy called The Book of Dust. The second book of this new trilogy, The Secret Commonwealth, came out in 2019.
His Dark Materials books in order (at a glance)
The title of the series is from a 17th-century poem called Paradise Lost by John Milton. Pullman says he chose this name because it echoed the dark matter of astrophysics. Here are all the books in order at a glance.
His Dark Materials trilogy:
- Northern Lights (1995)
- The Subtle Knife (1997)
- The Amber Spyglass (2000)
- Lyra’s Oxford (2003)
- Once Upon a Time In the North (2008)
- Serpentine (2020)
The Book of Dust trilogy:
- La Belle Sauvage (2017)
- The Secret Commonwealth (2019)
These books were faced with a lot of criticism from the Catholic Church, and some people believe the true meaning of the books is anti-god. In 2008 His Dark Materials books came second for one of the most banned books in the world.
What is the best way to read His Dark Materials books?
The best way to read His Dark Materials trilogy and all of the companion books is in chronological order.
His Dark Materials books in chronological order
1. Once Upon a Time in the North (2008)
Synopsis: Once Upon a Time in the North is a prequel novella that takes place many years before the main trilogy. It tells the story of how a young Texan balloonist, Lee Scoresby, comes to an Artic town. There he will meet Iorek Byrnisson and get caught up in a war between the residents of the town and the huge arctic bears.
2. La Belle Sauvage (2017)
Synopsis: Malcolm Polstead and his dæmon, Asta, love spending days in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage, but this will all change because of one girl. Malcolm and Asta are spies that get caught up in something way bigger than they know. They will find themselves on a dangerous journey with a baby, the little Lyra Belacqua.
3. Northern Lights/The Golden Compass (1995)
Synopsis: Lyra is a stubborn little girl who lives at Jordan College in Oxford. When Lyra’s friend Roger disappears, Lyra and her dæmon, Pantalaimon, will go on a quest to find him. This quest will lead them to the far North, where armored bears and witches rule. There they will discover a team of scientists that are conducting horrible experiments. When Lyra successfully overcomes these first obstacles, something that waits for her later is far more dangerous and shocking.
4. The Subtle Knife (1997)
Synopsis: Lyra finds herself in a new reality, in a town called Cittàgazze. There she will not be alone, she is accompanied by Will Parry, who comes from another universe. On their journey as they discovered new worlds, they will come across an object of extraordinary and devastating power. The more they explore their reality, the closer they come to shattering it.
5. The Amber Spyglass (2000)
Synopsis: The knife bearer, Will Parry has to find Lyra. She is the key to their success. Along with that, he has to deliver the knife to Lord Asriel. Everything points out that war is inevitable, and now have to journey to a place no one ever came from alive.
6. Lyra’s Oxford (2003)
Synopsis: Lyra’s Oxford is a story of how Lyra and Pan find a witch’s dæmon who they save from an attack. They help the dæmon by guiding it to the home of an alchemist who lives in Jericho in Oxford. This journey will be much more dangerous than Lyra and Pan anticipated.
7. Serpentine (2020)
Synopsis: The events from the original trilogy are far behind Lyra and Pan. Now, they decide to go back to the North to pay an old friend a visit. Trouble always finds Lyra and her friends, and this time it will turn out that nothing is as it seems.
8. The Secret Commonwealth (2019)
Synopsis: This is the second book in the new Book of Dust trilogy. It takes place twenty years after the events of La Belle Sauvage. Lyra and Malcolm who are now all grown up, have to go to Asia to search for a lost city. This city is haunted by dæmons, situated in the middle of the desert, and it holds many secrets about the infamous Dust.
Where to read His Dark Materials books?
His Dark Materials books are all available in bookstores worldwide. You can also order your copy on Amazon or read the eBook Kindle version. All the books can also be listened to on Audible, they are also special audiobook editions narrated by Michael Sheen.
Do you need to read His Dark Materials books in order?
You need to read His Dark Materials books in order. All the books take place across a multiverse, and the characters discover many parallel words and many secrets in them. So, to truly enjoyed the path our protagonists take, you have to read the books in chronological order.
Are His Dark Materials books connected?
All His Dark Material books are connected. Each book has a set place in the timeline, and it featured the same characters and places in all books. And this book series is also connected by the philosophical and theological ideas it explores.
Will there be more His Dark Materials books?
Now, there is only one book that is sure to come out in this book series. The third book in the Book of Dust trilogy is still missing, and at this time Pullman hasn’t yet started writing it. His Dark Materials is an iconic book series, and it definitely one of the best young adult fiction series ever written. Pullman is very keen on expanding this multiverse, and we are sure to see a lot more from him.