Philip Pullman announces His Dark Materials follow-up The Book of Dust

For Pullman has announced a "companion trilogy", with the first book set to arrive on October 19.

The first two books of the new series will star the protagonist of His Dark Materials, Lyra Belacqua, and other characters from the trilogy. They have sold more than 17.5 million copies and been published in more than 40 languages. 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.

Click on the video and to watch Mr Pullman talking about it.

Reacting to the announcement, Waterstones managing director James Daunt said Pullman's return was "exhilarating... for those of all ages".

Lyra Silvertongue was last glimpsed studying a alethiometer (a truth-o-meter) at eighteen years of age in the postscript to The Amber Spyglass, and what she did next might be depicted in The Book of Dust.

For fans, the mischievous Lyra is one of fiction's great child characters, up there with Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and Scout Finch from Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird".

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The author also said he wants readers to view the forthcoming trilogy as a companion to His Dark Materials: "It's not a sequel, and it's not a prequel, it's an equal".

The different worlds of "His Dark Materials".

Instead of a sequel, prequel, or the dreaded "soft reboot", readers will be glad to hear that The Book of Dust will stand as "equels" to the original series. Universally critically acclaimed and showered with awards, the books shot off the shelves - but Pullman's frank and unflinching criticisms of organized religion earned His Dark Materials a certain notoriety. And the second book and subsequent books. are set ten years after it.

Whether or not the series will feature characters or scenes from our universe like Will Parry, or take place exclusively in Lyra's realm remains in question. Now, with a better idea of what Dust is, Pullman is ready to return to it.

When I wrote the first series, starting in 1993, I didn't expect more than a readership of about two or three thousand. It will therefore cover her early childhood and adulthood most prominently.

When religion gets the power to tell people how to dress, who to fall in love with, how to behave, what they must not read, what they must not wear, all those things, then religion goes bad. That's the position that I take in the first series, and that's the one I take in this one as well'.