Philip Pullman will publish a new three-part series to “stand beside” the His Dark Materials trilogy.
The Book of Dust will reintroduce fans to Lyra, 22 years after the release of Northern Lights, who will be at the centre of the new story.
The first instalment of the series, which doesn’t yet have a title, will be released in the UK and US in October 19.
The first volume is set 10 years before Northern Lights and centres on Lyra Belacqua, starting at the beginning of her story and returning 20 years later. Alethiometers, daemons and the Magisterium feature but the book also introduces new characters including a new hero. The title is set between Oxford and London, in the same parallel Britain (or Brytain) from His Dark Materials trilogy. The second volume in the new series will cover Lyra’s life 20 years late, but the content of the third book has not yet been revealed.
Pullman said it gave him “much excitement and pleasure” to announce the first book with Lyra at the “centre of the story”. He said the series doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, “but beside it”.
“I know from their letters and tweets that my readers have been waiting patiently (mostly) for The Book of Dust for a long time,” Pullman said. “It gives me great pleasure and some excitement at last to satisfy their curiosity (and mine) about this book.”
Pullman said the events involving Lyra in the book “open the first chapter, and will close the last”.
“I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College and, in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up,” Pullman said. “This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her 20 years later.”
Pullman said the book was neither a prequel or a sequel. “In fact, The Book of Dust is… an ‘equel’. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it,” he said. “It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before.”
The author said the series would introduce some new characters including “an ordinary boy” (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a “terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world”.
He added that he wanted to return to Lyra’s world because of “Dust”.
“Questions about that mysterious and troubling substance were already causing strife 10 years before His Dark Materials, and at the centre of The Book of Dust is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organisation, which wants to stifle speculation and enquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free,” he said. “The idea of Dust suffused His Dark Materials. Little by little through that story the idea of what Dust was became clearer and clearer, but I always wanted to return to it and discover more.”