His Dark MaterialsHis Dark Materials is a trilogy of novels by the fantasy fiction author Philip Pullman.
Although ostensibly for children, the appeal of the novels is equally compelling for adults. Pullman's universe, like that of many other contemporary fantasy writers such as Michael Moorcock and Clive Barker, is multilayered and multifaceted, with possibilities for characters to slip between them. The Amber Spyglass won the 2002 Whitbread Book of the Year award, a prestigious British literature award. This is the first time that such an award has been bestowed on a book from their "children's literature" category.
Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers.
The novels draw heavily on gnostic ideas. The three major literary influences acknowledged by Pullman himself are the essay On the Marionette Theatre by Heinrich von Kleist; John Milton's Paradise Lost and the works of William Blake.
In Northern Lights (published in the USA as The Golden Compass), the young girl, Lyra Belacqua, and her dæmon- an animal-shaped manifestation of her soul- journey to the icy wastelands of the far North to save their best friend Roger, and other kidnapped children from experimentation by evil scientists and a revisionist church in an alternate universe. This world is much like our own, but with many differences.
In The Subtle Knife, Lyra journeys to the otherworld called Cittágazze, where she meets Will Parry, an eleven-year-old boy from our own world who has recently killed a man to protect his ailing mother. Together they travel from world to world and discover the Subtle Knife of the novel's title-so called because it can cut through the barriers between the worlds-and begin to uncover the truth of their own destiny.
In The Amber Spyglass, the series concludes with Will and Lyra visiting the Land of the Dead and releasing the dead souls from their captivity, the destruction of the Subtle Knife, and the sealing of the passageways between the worlds by the angels.
The trilogy has also been published as a single-volume omnibus in the UK.
Some have seen the series as a direct rebuttal of C.S. Lewis' Christianity inspired Narnia series. Pullman has criticised in particular Lewis's use of a fictional cure for cancer in one of the Narnia books, which Pullman claimed would raise false hopes in children who were themselves, or who had friends or family members who were, seriously ill.