the ruby in the smoke

14 July, 2009 § Leave a comment

was hoping to find something by Philip Pullman and stumbled upon this in the children’s section of the local library.

the idea of a protagonist (with a surname like Lockhart) and an enigmatic object (something gorgeous like a ruby) sounded manageable for an afternoon read. the paperback had an old-fashioned drawing of a girl with flowing blond hair tucked beneath a black cape with a mysterious old person lingering in the background. i am always enticed by nice book covers.

so after suffering the strange looks of the children as i plodded past the shelves to get to the check-out counters, i started reading it over lunch.

it tells the story of Sally who investigates the cause of her father’s death and enters an underground world of poppy smoke, the death of a maharaja and a red ruby.

it’s a short book that brings you to the heart of the matter pretty soon (or so you think). there is more than one villain; multiple plots and timelines are layered in a manner that is neither contrived nor too complex.

one thing that keeps coming to mind when one is reading a Pullman story is that the characters don’t seem to struggle so much between the making of a good decision or bad decision as they do between the time they consider whether or not do something and the moment they actually do make something happen.

Between the acting of a dreadful thing

And the first motion, all the interim is

Like a phantasma or a hideous dream;

The genius and the mortal instruments

Are then in council, and the state of man,

Like to a little kingdom, suffers then

The nature of an insurrection

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