I do think this is a good ending to the series. It doesn’t sit well with a lot of people, but I think it’s a fitting ending, for a story about loss of innocence (and how that’s not a bad thing), different kinds of love, and questioning authority.
Some disjointed (spoiler-filled) thoughts:
* I still think the mulefa are weird as hell and now that I’m an adult, I don’t how to feel about them. I’m extremely curious to see how they’re going to pull them off in the show. They have the potential to be deeply terrible if done wrong.
* The big vicious swan things are weird also?
* I like the role Mary plays here as the “tempter,” when all she does is tell Lyra about a time she fell in love.
* It’s bold as hell to have the culminating quest here basically be for our heroes to eradicate the afterlife, and to treat the afterlife as a prison instead of a paradise. Pullman obviously finds it comforting that if they choose, dead people can now merge with the universe and be free, instead of being trapped below for eternity at the whim of some faraway authority.
* I didn’t remember either Mrs. Coulter or Lord Asriel being redeemed in the end, but they sort of are. And yet they also don’t stop being terrible at the same time? I have very conflicting thoughts.
* This is definitely just as scary as I remember it being, though it scared me in a different way as a teenager.
* Lyra and Will’s separation is agonizing. Even though it was the one thing I did remember from my two other reads and thus knew it was coming, it’s just so utterly tragic.
* There are gay angels in here! They both die, though, and one from a broken heart. I feel like maybe if this was written now, maybe he would have gone easier on them. Then again, everybody dies in this book except basically Lyra, Will, and Mary. So maybe not?
* I always forget what animal Pantalaimon settles as. Why can’t I hold that in my memory?
I know I had more thoughts than this.
I can see how many people don’t like this one, but I think it works. Will read again, maybe won’t wait ten years this time in between.