Orphan Lyra Belacqua’s world is turned upside-down by her long-absent uncle’s return from the north, while the glamorous Mrs Coulter visits Jordan College with a proposition.

So “His Dark Materials” is quite amazing.

It’s not just the visuals, and aesthetic which are amazing, it’s that as a staunch and stolid lover of the books, it is utterly glorious to see the story come to life and so faithfully.

The monstrosity that was the film version of this story, which although beautiful, was horribly truncated while being overpacked and veered so wildly from the source material in some crucial ways, I was glad they never made the remaining parts of the story as it would have been excruciating. Even with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, it was just not the story I had hoped to see.

For me, it was that the actress who played Lyra, was far too pretty, far too pretty even in her ‘scrappy’ running around Jordan College as a hoyden of chaos and ruin. In all the major ways that the film failed, this single first episode of the HBO series succeeds and with the most thrilling reaction in me as a fan.

I know the story. I’ve read the trilogy at least once a year since 2004. But this still makes me want to sink deep into this visual retelling. And oh, oh my, the visuals… Lyra’s world is exceptionally realised, and we still are yet to see much beyond Jordan College.

I love the added scene of Lord Asriel delivering baby Lyra and Pantalaimon to the Master of Jordan College, during the Great Flood. This was a beautifully added detail, that in the books were only retold to Lyra in a second-hand fashion by Ma Costa. Here we’re given a snippet of this, at the beginning, where we’re well into the first story before we get anything real about the amazing Lyra Belacqua aka Lyra Silvertongue.

This episode, whets the appetite of even the most ardent and devoted fan of His Dark Materials (like myself). I and eagerly awaiting the second episode, and thoroughly enjoyed watching it with my thirteen year old son last night.

I must say that James MacAvoy is looking RATHER distinguished! Plus he manages to convey the ferocity and intensity of Lord Asriel in a way I never got from Daniel Craig who was merely cold.

This and Carnival Row, both exceeded my expectations! Do watch!

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The Vault


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