In this third volume of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, Lyra Silvertongue, with her comrade Will Parry, must search for her stolen alethiometer, using a new tool—the spyglass—in order to save their worlds.
...boundlessness lie both the strengths and the weaknesses of The Amber Spyglass. Pullman's intellectual imagination has scope for inventions that can match his ambitious themes, but such freedom overrides the constraints of plot and characterization necessary to a credible and satisfying dramatic shape ...there is a corresponding expansion in the interrelationships among characters and in the potential denouements ... With his elaborate battery of imaginative constructs, Pullman is all set to make his assault on the demands of his plot ...simple terms are not feasible here, for just as Pullman's worlds abut and overlap each other, so his narrative is designed as a complex metaphor ...large and unconvincing themes, however, should not obscure a recognition of Philip Pullman's skill as an artist in the minutiae of storytelling.
...The Amber Spyglass completes Pullman's radical three-volume reworking of Paradise Lost ... more intense than its predecessors. The climaxes are bigger; there is a fresh fire in the writing; and there is a wonderful new cast of characters — notably, a pair of gay angels. Above all, Pullman pursues his central philosophical theme with even greater passion ...Central to the story are Pullman's life-affirming belief in free will and the power of scientific rationalism and his deep dislike of hierarchical religion and the repression it sanctions ... portrayal of real people dealing with weighty moral issues within a mythic story and in a fantasy setting, Pullman has rearranged the landscape of writing for children.
A bravura trilogy deserves a bravura finish. The Amber Spyglass concludes Philip Pullman's challenging and polarizing His Dark Materials by delivering just such showmanship for most of its length, before finally dailing down the spectacle at the very end and becoming an intensely personal story of love and loss and sacrifice for the greater good on the part of its adolescent heroes... There are scenes here that are breathtakingly heroic and heartbreaking at the same time, at all times avoiding cheap sentiment or mawkishness ...a powerful tale with much to say, and one that will linger in the mind and heart as all great stories do ... most overt in its religious critique ...whole trilogy ends on a triumphant note. It is perhaps inevitable, and too bad, that readers too sensitive to criticisms of the Christian faith will not be in a position to admire the book for its storytelling strengths and, yes, its humanist message.