La Belle Sauvage takes place during the first year of Lyra Belaqua’s life, and while she’s important, (chosen one) the people who become important on her journey later only flit around the edges here. (I squealed when Farder Coram showed up!) The story is mainly about a boy from Oxford named Malcolm who spends time at the convent where she was first surrendered by her parents, and develops a brotherly protective feeling for the baby girl.
Of course, as he gets caught up with Lyra, Malcolm finds himself in danger of The Magesterium, who are even scarier here than they are is His Dark Materials. The sinister child army of The Order Of St. Alexander really freaked me out. But Malcolm and his friend Alice also battle a terrifying Magistereum opperative with a hyena daemon, who has lost a front leg.
Which leads to my favorite part of this book, which is the use of daemons. You really see them as a manifestation of the character’s souls here, and the way we grow and the mystery of them. Malcolm fascination with how baby Lyra and Pantalaimon interact was shared by me! What a fun detail that babies in this world chatter to their daemon who chatters back! That daemons can’t talk until their humans can. That baby daemons are even more flighty and changing than child daemons!
The book was delightful, a bit thicker and deeper than it’s predecessors, so I’m going to hold off on The Secret Commonwealth for a bit, because there’s a lot digest here.
Up next is Soy Sauce For Beginners by Kirsten Chen.