The Subtle Knife

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Novel Ideas returns with the first episode of year three, or Season 3, if you prefer. This week we are discussing Philip Pullman’s The Subtle Knife, sequel to The Golden Compass, second book in the “His Dark Materials” trilogy. In this episode we talk about trust, power, corruption, and moral ambiguity. We also touch on trilogy naming conventions, Sir Charles’s creepy vibe, trope subversion, and references to other things we have read and/or podcasted.

This week’s music bump is “Under the Knife” by Kansas because “Mack the Knife” seemed too obvious.

The Subtle Knife – EVIDENTLY


This book contains excellent world building and interesting characters, as well as adding to the universe of the story rather than rehashing what was popular the first time around. Read it. But first read The Golden Compass.

Gabs: 9/10 I love this damn book.

Ben: 9/10 All of those things.


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Novel Ideas caps off LGBT Month with a book that is actually about a gay relationship, Maurice by E.M. Forster. This very interesting book was written in 1913, but not published until 1971. Forster was unable to find a publisher during his lifetime because the subject matter, a love story between men with (gasp!) a happy ending was considered too risky by most publishers. It definitely reads as something ahead of its time, as many of the attitudes and opinions are right in line with those of 2013. We discuss that, as well as the importance of love, the unimportance of orthodoxy, and what “natural” really means. We also examine excellent turns of phrase, behaviors that strike us as very gay, and the adorable future of Maurice and his lover.

The music bump is from the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, commonly referred to as the “Pathetique” symphony. Light research reveals that this is translated from a Russian word for passion, rather than something deserving pity.