Philip Pullman is writing a new trilogy featuring his beloved character Lyra Bevacqua, to be titled The Book of Dust. The first in the series, as yet untitled, is scheduled for release on October 19, 2017 from PRH/Knopf Books for Young Readers (ISBN 9780375815300).
Breaking normal practice to cover the story, NPR’s Morning Edition noted, “we don’t typically cover book announcements at NPR,” but did so because readers have been waiting seventeen years for Lyra to return.
The first book of the new series will take place a decade before the fist book in The Golden Compass series, His Dark Materials, when Lyra is a baby. The second and third volumes will be set ten years after the last book of the earlier series (The Amber Spyglass), when Lyra is an adult.
Pullman tells NPR that readers should think of the new trilogy as a new story: “you don’t have to read it before you read [the original trilogy] … this is another story that comes after it, so it’s not a sequel, and it’s not a prequel, it’s an equal … It’s a sort of companion book, if you like. It doesn’t stand before [His Dark Materials], it doesn’t stand after it, it stands beside it.”
While a bit cagey about the plot, he says it is “More about the nature of Dust, and consciousness, and what it means to be a human being.” It features other characters readers know from the first trilogy and will include a great flood.
Pullman has already extended the His Dark Materials universe with two novellas and an audiobook-only spin-off, The Collectors. He tells NPR he is returning once more because “I sensed a big story. I sensed the presence, in the way that you do, of another story that hadn’t been told, and I went closer and … thought about it and lived with it for a while and discovered that yes, it was a big story, and it did deserve to be told, it deserves its own books.”
Final cover art (the image above is from the UK press release) and title will be revealed in the coming months.
The attention has already sent Pullman’s titles racing up Amazon’s sales rankings. The Book of Dust is currently ranked #285 and an omnibus edition of the full trilogy is now #302, up from yesterday’s ranking of #17,891.
NPR featured two stories on the news.