Book review

Lyra's Oxford by Philip Pullman (2003)

Here's something we've all been waiting for - a chance to go back to Lyra's Oxford and have another look round.

It seems to be just as we left it, except perhaps Lyra is a little subdued now with her extraordinary adventures behind her:

Lyra didn't often climb out of her bedroom window these days. She had a better way on to the roof of Jordan College: the Porter had given her a key that let her on to the roof of the Lodge Tower.

It's the best place to sit, out of sight, to watch for the starlings:

They didn't seem like individual birds, or even individual dots of black against the blue; it was the flock itself that was the individual. It was like a single piece of cloth, cut in a very complicated way that let it swing through itself and double over and stretch and fold in three dimensions without ever tangling, turning itself inside out and elegantly waving and crossing through and falling and rising and falling again.

This time, in this flock, there's trouble. A witch's daemon is hurtling through the starlings evidently in search of Lyra. And the flock are savaging the daemon.

What's amiss? Fortunately we can rely on Lyra to find out, and sort it out.

This is only a short story but it does show us very well that although the war has been fought and won it still leaves a track across everybody's life and consequences continue to flow, whether we know it or not. For wars split not only worlds, but also communities and even families.

And what of the mysterious ephemera that turn up, tucked inside the covers of this old Baedecker? What part do they play in this story? Well, actually, I'm not sure they play any part directly, so we may hope, perhaps, that there are more stories to come from Philip Pullman set in Lyra's Oxford:

'Everything means something,' Lyra said severely. 'We just have to find out how to read it.'

What can I read next?

If you enjoy this little story and you haven't yet come across Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, then now might be the time to have a look at it. You will find this new story connects:

If you love to visit different worlds and encounters with strong magic then I think you would enjoy these extraordinary books by Garth Nix:

Or you might enjoy this rather ghastly evocation of old London by Chris Wooding:

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