Northern Lights author Philip Pullman will be releasing a follow-up to his best-selling His Dark Materials trilogy, titled The Book of Dust.
The first in the new trilogy will come out on 19th October, 17 years after we said goodbye to Lyra Belacqua at the end of The Amber Spyglass. It also happens to be the author’s 71st birthday.
Pullman has insisted that the books are an “equel” rather than a prequel or a sequel.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today Programme, he explained: “People say, ‘Is it prequel? Is it a sequel?’ Well, it is neither.
“It’s an ‘equel’. It’s a different story which begins roughly 10 years before His Dark Materials and ends roughly 10 years after.”
Readers will return to the story of heroine Lyra, this time beginning when she is a baby and later moving on to when she is 20 years old.
The original trilogy – Northern Lights (titled The Golden Compass in the US), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass – is currently being adapted by the BBC. It’s also been on stage at the National Theatre, and on screen in a 2007 film starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
In a statement, Pullman adds: “The first thing to say is that Lyra is at the centre of the story. Events involving her 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.”
And what does “equel” really mean?
Pullman explains: “It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before.
“Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, 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.”
And as for the trilogy’s title, it certainly is a reference to the Dust from His Dark Materials.
“Why return to Lyra’s world? Dust.” Pullman says. “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.”