The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust Series #2)

The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust Series #2)

by Philip Pullman


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"It's a stunning achievement, this universe Pullman has created and continues to build on." —The New York Times

Return to the parallel world of His Dark Materials in the second volume of Philip Pullman's new bestselling masterwork The Book of Dust, and discover what comes next for Lyra, "one of fantasy's most indelible characters." (The New York Times Magazine)

Lyra Silvertongue's adventures in the North are long over—the windows between the many worlds have been sealed, and her beloved Will is lost to her. She does still have the alethiometer: the truth-telling device given to her by the master of Jordan College, which guided her journey.

Lyra doesn't know the full story of the alethiometer, though. Or the role that young Malcolm Polstead played in bringing both the instrument and baby Lyra to Jordan. She's now a twenty-year-old undergraduate at St. Sophia's College. To her, Malcolm is Dr. Polstead, an overly solicitous professor she would prefer to avoid.

But intrigue is swirling around Lyra once more. Her daemon Pantalaimon is witness to a brutal murder, and the dying man entrusts them with secrets that carry echoes from their past. They learn of a city haunted by daemons, of a desert said to hold the secret of Dust.

Powerful forces are about to throw Lyra and Malcolm together once again. And the dangers they face will challenge everything they thought they knew about the world, and about themselves.


"Too few things in our world are worth a seventeen year wait: The Book of Dust is one of them." —The Washington Post

"Reading this novel is like standing in a room in which suddenly all of the windows have blown open at once." —Slate


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553510669
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/03/2019
Series: Book of Dust Series , #2
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 383
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 8.80(h) x 2.10(d)
Lexile: HL830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

PHILIP PULLMAN is one of the most acclaimed writers working today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy, which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. He has also won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for The Golden Compass (and the reader-voted "Carnegie of Carnegies" for the best children's book of the past seventy years); the Whitbread (now Costa) Award; Parents' Choice Gold Awards; and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in honor of his body of work. Pullman was knighted for services to literature in the New Years' Honors in 2019.

Philip Pullman is the author of many other much-lauded novels. Three volumes related to His Dark Materials: Lyra's Oxford, Once Upon a Time in the North, and The Collectors. And a new trilogy set in the same world, The Book of Dust, which began with La Belle Sauvage. For younger readers: I Was a Rat!, Count Karlstein, Two Crafty Criminals, Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. For older readers: the Sally Lockhart quartet (The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin Princess), The White Mercedes, and The Broken Bridge.

Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England. To learn more, please visit or follow him on Facebook at Philip Pullman author, and on Twitter at @PhilipPullman.


Oxford, England

Date of Birth:

October 19, 1946

Place of Birth:

Norwich, England


Exeter College, Oxford University

Read an Excerpt

Little Clarendon Street had been adopted by Oxford’s jeunesse dorée as a fashionable destination. Expensive clothes shops, chic coffeehouses, cocktail bars, and colored anbaric lights strung overhead made it seem like a corner of another city altogether—Malcolm couldn’t have known what made tears come to Lyra’s eyes at that point, though he did notice the tears: it was her memory of the deserted Cittàgazze, all the lights blazing, empty, silent, magi­cal, where she had first met Will. She brushed them away and said nothing.
He led the way to a mock-Italian café with candles in straw-wrapped wine bottles and red-checked tablecloths and travel post­ers in splashy colors. Lyra looked around warily.
“It’s safe here,” Malcolm said quietly. “There are other places where it’s risky to talk, but there’s no danger in La Luna Caprese.”
He ordered a bottle of Chianti, asking Lyra first if that was what she’d like, and she nodded.
When the wine was tried and poured, she said, “I’ve got to tell you something. I’ll try and keep it clear in my head. And now I know about you and your dæmon, it’s something I can tell you, but no one else. Only I’ve heard so many things in the last couple of days and my mind’s in a whirl, so please, if I don’t make sense, just stop me and I’ll go over it again.”
“Of course.”
She began with Pan’s experience on the Monday night, the at­tack, the murder, the man giving him the wallet to take to Lyra. Malcolm listened in astonishment, though he felt no skepticism: such things happened, as he knew well. But one thing seemed odd.
“The victim and his dæmon knew about separating?” he said.
“Yes,” said Pan at Lyra’s elbow. “They weren’t shocked, like most people would be. In fact, they could separate too. She must have seen me up the tree when he was being attacked, and thought it would be all right to trust me, I suppose.”
“So Pan brought the wallet back to me at St. Sophia’s . . . ,” Lyra went on.
“And that was when Asta saw me,” Pan put in.
“. . . but other things got in the way, and we didn’t have a chance to look at it till the next morning.”
She pulled her bag up to her lap and took out the wallet, passing it to him unobtrusively. He noticed Pan’s tooth marks, and no­ticed the smell too, which Pan had called cheap cologne, though it seemed to Malcolm something other than that, something wilder. He opened the wallet and took out the contents one by one as she spoke. The Bodleian card, the university staff card, the diplomatic papers, all so familiar; his own wallet had held very similar papers in its time.
“He was coming back to Oxford, I think,” Lyra said, “because if you look at the laissez-passers, you can trace his journey from Sin Kiang to here. He’d probably have gone on to the Botanic Garden, if they hadn’t attacked him.”
Malcolm caught another faint trace of the scent on the wallet. He raised it to his nose, and something distant rang like a bell, or gleamed like the sun on a snowy mountaintop, just for the fraction of a second, and then it was gone.
“Did he say anything else, the man who was killed?”
He addressed the question to Pan, and Pan thought hard before saying, “No. He couldn’t. He was nearly dead. He made me take the wallet out of his pocket and told me to take it to Lyra—I mean, he didn’t know her name, but he said to take it to your . . . I think he thought we could be trusted because he knew about separating.”
“Have you taken this to the police?”
“Of course. That was almost the first thing we did next morn­ing,” Lyra said. “But when we were waiting in the police station, Pan heard one of the policemen speak.”
“He was the first killer, the one who wasn’t wounded,” said Pan. “I recognized his voice. It was very distinctive.”
“So we asked about something quite different and then left,” Lyra went on. “We just thought we shouldn’t give the wallet to the very man who’d killed him.”
“Sensible,” said Malcolm.
“Oh, and there’s another thing. The man who was cut on the leg. He’s called Benny Morris.”
“How d’you know that?”
“I know someone who works at the mail depot, and I asked him if there was anyone there who’d hurt his leg. He said yes, there was a big ugly man called Benny Morris, who sounds just like the man we saw.”
“And what then?”
“In the wallet,” Lyra said carefully, “there was a left-luggage key—you know, the sort you get with those lockers at the station.”
“What did you do with that?”
“I thought we ought to go and get whatever was in it. So—”
“Don’t tell me you did?”
“Yes. Because he’d sort of entrusted it to us, the wallet, and what was in it. So we thought we ought to go and look after it before the men who killed him realized and went to look for it themselves.”
“The killers knew he had some sort of luggage,” said Pan, “be­cause they kept asking each other if he’d had a bag, if he’d dropped it, were they sure they hadn’t seen it, and so on. As if they’d been told to expect one.”
“And what was in the locker?” said Malcolm.
“A rucksack,” Lyra said. “Which is under the floorboards in my room in Jordan.”
“It’s there now?”
She nodded.
He picked up his glass and drained it in one, and then stood up. “Let’s go and get it. While it’s there, you’re in great danger, Lyra, and that’s no exaggeration. Come on.”

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The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust Series #2) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I had been looking forward to Book 2 for 2 years. I'm ready and waiting for Book 3!