By Ava Mandel
Readers have been waiting 17 years for the next chapter in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, and finally the first installment in “The Book of Dust” sequel series, entitled “La Belle Sauvage,” will come out Oct. 19. “La Belle Sauvage” will center on Lyra and begin its narrative before the events in “His Dark Materials,” namely telling the events before, leading up to and immediately after Lyra’s birth.
The novel’s title is taken from a canoe of the same name, named after an existing pub, in the story that sets the plot in motion. In an interview with the Guardian, Pullman said, “The canoe is important in this part of ‘The Book of Dust,’ because some of the story is set during a massive flood.”
Translated from French into English, “La Belle Sauvage” means “the Beautiful Savage.” Perhaps this title is a summary for the development of a particular character in the story, or perhaps the vessel itself serves as the main anchor of the story, connecting all of the characters.
Readers should not expect any giveaways to the story, but Pullman did share his goals for what he hopes his newest addition to the “His Dark Materials” universe will accomplish.
“The story I’m telling in this book is more about in terms of William Blake’s vision, his idea of a fiercely reductive way of seeing things: it’s right or wrong, it’s black or white,” Pullman said to BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “It’s an attack on the reductionism, the merciless reductionism, of doctrines with a single answer.”
Aside from the reveal of the time period in which “The Book of Dust” is set, not much else about the plot has been publicized. Reiss Smith of “Express” said, “Publisher Penguin has revealed that the story centers on ‘the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organization that wants to stifle speculation and enquiry and those who believe that thought and speech should be free.’”
Few details have been released from the story aside from the novel’s title, the canoe which shares the spotlight with protagonist Lyra and a brief excerpt. The excerpt has revealed that familiar characters, such as Asriel and a mystery boy named Malcolm who made an appearance in the early part of “His Dark Materials,” will be making a re-appearance.
Pullman teased “His Dark Materials” fans over the identity of Malcolm when he said, “He had a walk-on part in another book, but I’m not saying which, and in any case you have to look carefully.” In fact, Malcolm is the owner of the “La Belle Sauvage” canoe.
Readers who are new to the “Dust and Dæmon” universe have no need to worry about plot-holes, as “The Book of Dust” will work as a stand-alone series that takes place in the same world as “His Dark Materials,” but at different times.
Fans will also be happy to note that “His Dark Materials” has been picked up by the BBC as a TV show supposedly meant to run for five seasons and could potentially premier in late 2017.
“La Belle Sauvage” is the first of three volumes that will make up “The Book of Dust.” The next two volumes will be set about 10 years after the conclusion of “His Dark Materials.” Release dates for the upcoming novels have yet to be revealed.