Philip Pullman announces release of unseen His Dark Materials novella Serpentine

Written in 2004 for a charity auction, the story sees a teenage Lyra and Pan travel to Trollesund.

Philip Pullman with the cast of His Dark Materials (BBC, Getty)

If the smash-hit BBC TV series and the epic Book of Dust sequel trilogy weren’t enough His Dark Materials for you, Sir Philip Pullman has revealed that another adventure for Lyra and Pan will soon be available for fans.

Advertisement

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of the original His Dark Materials novel The Northern Lights, author Pullman announced that in October he’ll be releasing a novella called Serpentine, which he previously wrote for a charity auction in 2004 but will now be available for all.

“When I wrote Serpentine, I had no idea that I was going on to write another trilogy, showing Lyra as an adult, but she and her world wouldn’t leave me alone,” Pullman said, noting that the story is something of a prequel to his most recent Book of Dust novel The Secret Commonwealth.

“When it comes to human affairs, a billion invisible filaments connect us to our own pasts, as well as to the most remote things we can imagine; and I hope that, above all, these books are about being alive and being human.”

In Serpentine, a teenage Lyra returns to the frozen North and the fictional town of Trollesund as seen in The Northern Lights (and the recent TV series) looking for answers. Specifically, she and her dæmon Pan are seeking out the witch-consul Dr Lanselius, hoping he’ll be able to tell them more about their strange ability to ‘separate’ – in other words, go further apart than other humans and their dæmons – ahead of that power’s central importance in The Book of Dust trilogy.

Serpentine (illustrated by Tom Duxbury) will be released by Penguin Random House Children’s on October 15th in hardback and ebook form, alongside an audiobook read by Olivia Colman. It follows previous novella releases also by Pullman starring characters from His Dark Materials, specifically 2003 release Lyra’s Oxford and 2008’s Once Upon a Time in the North.

And the book is sure to help tide fans over who are desperate for the final release in Pullman’s new trilogy, which he says he’s currently still writing.

“I still write by hand, always have done, always will. So I measure it in terms of pages, and it’s going steadily,” he said.

“I don’t want it to be as long as The Secret Commonwealth, which was the longest book I’ve written. I’d like it to be shorter than that and if I work hard enough it will be, but it’s not nearly finished yet.”

And when he does finish, he says that he hopes he can leave Lyra and her world(s) behind at last.

“I don’t want to go on and on and on with it,” he said. “I’m telling this part of the story because I think it needed to be told.

“I needed to tell it, it’s a story of how she reconciles her original vision of everything being connected, everything being alive, her vision as a child with the rationalism, with the scepticism, even cynicism that she’s unwittingly developed as a student, as a teenager, how she reconciles these two visions of the world.

“I hope she will but I can’t say how or indeed whether she will. It might end up very sadly, I don’t know.”

Advertisement

Serpentine will be available for purchase from the 15th October. His Dark Materials is expected to return to BBC One this autumn