Fun Facts About Lyra’s Oxford by Philip Pullman

531197Lyra’s Oxford was published in 2003 and is a short book set two years after the trilogy when Lyra is 15 years old. While being an extension to the trilogy and expanding on the themes, it was also released to sate fans while they waited for the then unspecified release of The Book of Dust which Pullman said will be published “when it’s finished, and not a day sooner” (now finally given an expected release date of 2016).

This book is technically #3.5 in the His Dark Materials series, in Pullman’s words “a stepping stone to the book that’s coming next”. This refers to not just the short story, but also the many fun bits and pieces Pullman has included from and about Lyra’s world. He also teases on his website that “if you look very closely, you may find some clues about the future course of Lyra’s story.”

This secretive nature is reflected in the preface as well. Cryptically he writes: “This book contains a story and several other things. The other things might be connected with the story, or they might not; they might be connected to stories that haven’t appeared yet. It’s hard to tell.”

One of the “other things” Pullman has included is a fold-out map, bound to the book that depicts the Oxford of Lyra’s world, entitled ‘Oxford by Train, River, and Zeppelin’. There are also little titbits such as advertisers for books and catalogues, brochures, a postcard from Mary Malone, and even pages from a Baedeker published in Lyra’s world. It is in these that you can find clues about Lyra, as well as gain more information about events in the trilogy, such as seeing Mary’s office, and a detailed look at the Oxford Lyra knows and loves.

This book is short, a mere 64 pages, but for those who need to know what happened to Lyra after The Amber Spyglass, this is a great thing to hold on to. After the emotional experience of reading His Dark Materials, it is comforting to know Lyra is ok and it provides enough interest and new information to be a great additional story.

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