Twenty-two years on from Northern Lights—aka The Golden Compass—the first volume of a trilogy that’s since sold more than twenty-two million copies, Phillip Pullman has announced that the much-discussed Book of Dust is, if not done, then damn near complete. But contrary to earlier speculation, it’s not a prequel. Or even a sequel. According to the author, it is, in fact, “an ‘equel.’ It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it.”
Wait, you what? Well, Pullman, apparently, had always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra Belacqua, the hero at the heart of His Dark Materials, came to be living at Jordan College, where the first book of said series starts, and in thinking about it, he “discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up.” A long story that, in short, begins before Northern Lights, and ends after the events of The Amber Spyglass.
Thus, The Book of Dust is not, as proposed so long ago, a companion piece to the original trilogy at all, but a whole new trilogy—the first volume of which will be released later this year.