Lyra Silvertongue was last glimpsed studying an alethiometer (a truth-o-meter) at 18 years of age in the postscript to The Amber Spyglass, and what she did next might be depicted in The Book of Dust. Still, while new books will continue to explore Lyra’s life, these adventures won’t necessarily be a direct sequel to The Amber Spyglass. According to author Philip Pullman, the new story will not be a prequel or a sequel but an “equel” and it will start when Lyra was a baby and end 20 years later. If that seems confusing, here’s what it might mean.
The “20 years later” part sounds like a follow up more along the lines of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but Pullman is also saying events will center on Lyra’s childhood. So, Book of Dust is both a Cursed Child flash-forward and a prequel.
“Lyra is at the center of the story,” Pullman said. “I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life.” Pullman also said, “It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognize and characters they’ve met before.”
Obviously Pullman won’t be rehashing Lyra’s journey, or it would be the same story all over again. What his “equel” will be then is a sideways story. It will focus on characters and events running concurrent to the events of His Dark Materials — perhaps her friend Roger Parslow’s journey to the Land of the Dead and world of the Mulefa — and it will check in on Lyra during times the original trilogy did not. It will therefore cover her early childhood and adulthood most prominently.
The biggest question, however, is what the “20 years later” part means. If it’s 20 years from the story’s beginning, Lyra will be 31. However, in a postscript in select versions of The Amber Spyglass, Lyra is 18 — which would make her 38 now and definitely an adult.
His Dark Materials is also coming to the BBC following a lackluster response from the 2007 film adaptation of The Golden Compass. That means it’s a great time for fans of Lyra and her armored Polar Bear friends.