...boundlessness lie both the strengths and the weaknesses of The Amber Spyglass. Pullman's intellectual imagination has scope for inventions that can match his ambitious themes, but such freedom overrides the constraints of plot and characterization necessary to a credible and satisfying dramatic shape ...there is a corresponding expansion in the interrelationships among characters and in the potential denouements ... With his elaborate battery of imaginative constructs, Pullman is all set to make his assault on the demands of his plot ...simple terms are not feasible here, for just as Pullman's worlds abut and overlap each other, so his narrative is designed as a complex metaphor ...large and unconvincing themes, however, should not obscure a recognition of Philip Pullman's skill as an artist in the minutiae of storytelling.
...The Amber Spyglass completes Pullman's radical three-volume reworking of Paradise Lost ... more intense than its predecessors. The climaxes are bigger; there is a fresh fire in the writing; and there is a wonderful new cast of characters — notably, a pair of gay angels. Above all, Pullman pursues his central philosophical theme with even greater passion ...Central to the story are Pullman's life-affirming belief in free will and the power of scientific rationalism and his deep dislike of hierarchical religion and the repression it sanctions ... portrayal of real people dealing with weighty moral issues within a mythic story and in a fantasy setting, Pullman has rearranged the landscape of writing for children.
A bravura trilogy deserves a bravura finish. The Amber Spyglass concludes Philip Pullman's challenging and polarizing His Dark Materials by delivering just such showmanship for most of its length, before finally dailing down the spectacle at the very end and becoming an intensely personal story of love and loss and sacrifice for the greater good on the part of its adolescent heroes... There are scenes here that are breathtakingly heroic and heartbreaking at the same time, at all times avoiding cheap sentiment or mawkishness ...a powerful tale with much to say, and one that will linger in the mind and heart as all great stories do ... most overt in its religious critique ...whole trilogy ends on a triumphant note. It is perhaps inevitable, and too bad, that readers too sensitive to criticisms of the Christian faith will not be in a position to admire the book for its storytelling strengths and, yes, its humanist message.
The final installment in the His Dark Material trilogy brings together religion: original sin, the afterlife, God; and science: quantum physics, chaos theory; together with theology: man is the maker of his own destiny and ultimately therefore his destruction, in a cataclysmic finale that is as gripping as it is heart-wrenching ... A brilliant conclusion to the His Dark Materials trilogy...this is an excellent book and a worthy winner of the 2002 Whitbread Prize ... find it hard to click with the Mary Malone character and the Mulefa and must admit I read these chapters with a small degree of annoyance as I felt it took me away from the real action... The ending of the book, was bittersweet but so sensitive and true to the characters that it brought a tear to my eye. Wonderfully engrossing and so packed full of of explosive plot lines that you'll find it difficult to put down.
The longed-for third volume in this trilogy (The Golden Compass, 1996; The Subtle Knife, 1997) satisfies deeply: full of grand set pieces, resplendent language, and glorious storytelling ... All of the splendid characters of the earlier books make a return... Across this brilliant and vivid canvas, the largest of themes play out: life and death, goodness and evil, self and other, the redemptive power of love ... There are roaring battles and moments of great tenderness; there are unforgettable scenes...nd not a few echoes of Paradise Lost with some deeply unconventional theological implications ... Readers will be chastened — and warmed — and sorry to see the last page.
In concluding the spellbinding His Dark Materials trilogy, Pullman produces what may well be the most controversial children's book of recent years ...so much happens, and the action is split among so many different imagined worlds, that readers will have to work hard to keep up with Pullman ...Pullman riffs on the elemental chords of classical myth and fairy tale. While some sections seem rushed and the prose is not always as brightly polished as fans might expect, Pullman's exuberant work stays rigorously true to its own internal structure. Stirring and highly provocative.