The first volume of Philip Pullman’s new trilogy will be published on 19 October 2017. What do we know about it?

It won’t be an overstatement to say that His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman enjoys tremendous popularity with readers of all ages, be they young adults (the intended audience) or their parents or younger siblings. Published in 1995 and set in a world where everybody has a ‘dæmon’ (basically, a soul that exists outside of one’s body) The Golden Compass – the first book in the trilogy – was fast-paced, intriguing, highly unusual and absolutely riveting. Lyra Belacqua, an energetic, intelligent and above all resourceful 12-year-old girl made a perfect protagonist, and there are not that many books that feature so imposing a character as Iorek Byrnison, a mighty armored bear. The Subtle Knife, an action-packed sequel, introduced a Will Parry – a sensible and responsible boy from our Earth who was a perfect companion to sometimes boisterous Lyra. The Amber Spyglass, the final book in the trilogy, resolved all plot threads and was a grand climax to a thrilling story.

It seems that the author never really wanted to part with the Universe he created, for even after the story of Lyra and Will had been concluded, he wrote two more long short stories (or short novels) set in the same world: Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North. These books, however, lacked length to be called ‘real’ sequels (or prequels).

The Book of DustThe heart of every fan of His Dark Materials skipped a bit when it was officially announced that Philip Pullman started to work on The Book of Dust – a ‘proper’ sequel to the original trilogy. Yet another bit was missed when it turned out that The Book of Dust would itself be a trilogy. Although we still don’t know the titles and release dates of volumes two and three, in less than three weeks’ time the long-awaited first installment of the new series (it is called La Belle Sauvage) will hit the shelves.

La Belle Sauvage that gave the book its title is a canoe that belongs to a boy named Malcolm Polstead. The novel is set exactly 10 years before the events of The Golden Compass: during one of his travels across the River Thames, Malcolm finds out that nuns from a monastery called Godstow Priory have a guest: a 2-year-old baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua…

The publisher of the book reveals that the story is going to feature alethiometers (rare truth-telling devices), the sinister Magisterium and much-loved dæmons. It is the only book one that precedes The Golden Compass, while books two and three will (very probably) take place ten years after The Amber Spyglass. The author says that story-wise The Book of Dust is not a prequel or sequel to His Dark Materials but rather an ‘equel’: it is a new story that just as important as the previous novels.

When writing La Belle Sauvage, Philip Pullman made a vow not to cut his hair until the work was complete. Now the novel is available for preorder: some diehard fans of the series copy the author and postpone their visits to hairdressers until they lay their hands on the book. What a disaster for the beauty parlors!