‘Golden Compass’ author Philip Pullman touts ‘darker’ prequel – CNET

Lyra Belacqua is finally back. And fans of “The Golden Compass,” both the best-selling fantasy novel and the Oscar-winning film, are no doubt beside themselves.

Belacqua, heroine of author Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, makes her reappearance nearly 20 years after “Materials” wrapped up publication, and almost a decade after “Compass,” the first book in the series, graced movie screens.

Philip Pullman's new book is out now.

Philip Pullman’s new book is out now. 

Penguin Random House

She’s at the heart of Pullman’s “La Belle Sauvage,” released Thursday. It’s the first installment in a new trilogy called “The Book of Dust,” a prequel to “Dark Materials” that Pullman promises will take readers to “quite a different part of the world.”

“This book is darker,” Pullman said Friday, during an appearance at the London Literature Festival at Southbank Centre. “I don’t know if I’m becoming cynical. I hope I’m not because I think cynicism is the death of all sorts of things. Skeptical, perhaps.”

Set 10 years before the events of “Materials,” “Sauvage” centres on Belacqua and 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead. Devotees will be pleased to hear that in addition to Belacqua, alethiometer, dæmons and the Magisterium all make a return, along with a whole host of new characters and locations.

During his talk, Pullman described “La Belle Sauvage” as “more elemental” than “Materials” and as an equal rather than a prequel — even if you’re not familiar with “His Dark Materials,” you’ll still be able to read the new book as a standalone novel.

The second installment has already been written, Pullman said, so don’t worry: You almost certainly won’t have to wait another 17 years for the next book.

Pullman also revealed that he’s a fan of the “Game of Thrones” TV series and that he’s delighted “His Dark Materials” is currently being filmed in a similar long-form format.

Out now, “La Belle Sauvage” is available in hardback, ebook and audiobook.

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