Philip Pullman’s acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy, a sweeping retelling of Milton’s Paradise Lost and the biblical Fall, has caused great controversy among Christian readers. Watkins, a self-proclaimed Christian and managing editor for the Damaris Trust’s CultureWatch Web site, offers a perspective on Pullman’s work that is anything but dark and is sure to enlighten the debate among Christians. The book is divided into three parts, the first a walk through Pullman’s life and background and the second an overview of the major dimensions of each book in the trilogy. It is not until the third section that readers will find what they are really looking for: a critical evaluation of major themes and story dimensions such as dæmons, sin, and the infamous “death of God”—an assessment that is smart and wisely restrained. Watkins’s critical appreciation of Pullman’s trilogy will surely appeal to a Christian audience, but will reach well beyond this market to a general readership looking for a solid, substantially sourced, and well-written analysis of this beloved work of literature.
Publishers Weekly, 15 March 2006
This is indeed a thinking fan's guide! Tony Watkins delves sympathetically and seriously into Pullman's fiction. He provides a readable and fun way into the theological and philosophical questions, while showing integrity towards the stories themselves.
David Wilkinson, Principal, St John's College, Durham, and author of The Power of the Force: The Spirituality of the "Star Wars" Films and God, Time and Stephen Hawking
As more of these guides to His Dark Materials are published, its good to see that they're covering more and more material. Dark Matter by Tony Watkins (published by Damaris) is the first of the books to really go in depth into the more controversial issues raised by His Dark Materials. He looks at the series from the perspective of a Christian who deeply enjoyed His Dark Materials, and is willing to tackle some of the questions that Pullman raises. While some of the earlier guide books have presented just the facts about the books, just going through and reciting the storyline without adding much commentary, Watkins has provided some excellent analysis that will be insightful to new readers and long-time fans alike. There are extensive footnotes throughout the text that are useful in following up on some of the information and quotes he uses, as well as an appendix on the science in the trilogy . . . Some readers might have expected Watkins to condemn parts of the trilogy because of his Christianity, but he is successful in portraying both his enjoyment of the story as a whole and his respectful disagreement on a few issues which are all handled tactfully.
BridgeToTheStars.net review (leading His Dark Materials fansite)