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When Lyra is studying at Oxford University, she comes across the story of Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnisson's first meeting, many years ago, along with much evidence of the adventure that brought them together.
When a young Texan balloonist, Lee Scoresby, comes down to earth in the harbour of an Arctic town in the North, little does he realise that he is about to be embroiled in an out-and-out political brawl.
Lee and his daemon, Hester, find themselves the target of political factions trying to take over the running (and oil) of the town. And also resident in the town are huge arctic bears, ignored and patronised by the people and treated like second-class citizens. When Lee and Iorek first meet, they cement a friendship that will continue throughout their lives, as the tensions and pressure in town lead to a deadly conclusion...
Another wonderful tale from a master story-teller, giving us more extraordinary insight into the world of His Dark Materials. Includes a thrilling board game!
Fans of the His Dark Materials trilogy will get a kick from this wisp of a novel, which immediately introduces "a lean young man with a large hat, a laconic disposition, and a thin mustache": Pullman offers up the backstory about that legendary Texan, the aeronaut Lee Scoresby, his jackrabbit daemon, Hester, and their first encounter with that other series favorite, the armored bear Iorek Byrnison. But this story reads as a stand alone, too, accessible to those unfamiliar with The Golden Compass and the rest. Bringing in his signature talents for rich scenic description and dramatic action, the story begins as Lee arrives on the island of Novy Odense, looking for work, and instead finds adventure. Notably, Pullman tells the story from Lee's perspective, trading in trilogy heroine Lyra's point of view for that of an adult man. Lee and Iorek team up to help a sea captain save his ship's cargo unfairly embargoed by a corrupt local politician (he harbors a deep prejudice against armored bears) and square off against the politician's bodyguard, a hired killer. Readers will appreciate this story's larger-than-life tenor, so fitting for the heroic Lee Scoresby. Kids will enjoy the extras, such as the pull-out board game Peril of the Pole ("for four to six players and their daemons") and "newspaper" clippings. Illustrated throughout with small engravings; final art not seen by PW. Ages 12-up.