As with [b:Lyra's Oxford|531197|Lyra's Oxford|Philip Pullman|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348806311s/531197.jpg|3524192], Once Upon a Time in the North
offers an opportunity to reenter Pullman's His Dark Materials
universe. This time, we get the skinny on how Lee Scoresby and Iorek Byrnison became friends. I absolutely love both the Scoresby-Byrnison and Lee-Hester relationships, so it was fun to reconnect with them 35 years before the main action of the trilogy.
I don't think Pullman has it in him to write a story that doesn't provide a taste of his philosophical, theological, or economic/political thought. In Once Upon a Time
, privatization is the target:
"The fact is this, Mr. Scoresby: there is a struggle going on throughout the northern lands, of which this little island is a microcosm. On one hand there are the properly constituted civil institutions such as the Customs and Revenue Board, and on the other the uncontrolled power of the large private companies ... which are dominating more and more of public life, though they are not subject to any form of democratic sanction."
I continue to find it interesting that Pullman chooses a man from Texas - a U.S. state with large libertarian and conservative factions - to do battle against religious and capitalist forces. I doubt that Pullman's choice of nationality for Scoresby is an accidental one. Interesting stuff!Once Upon a Time in the North
is a fast-paced and entertaining read. It's definitely worth an hour or two of time to fly through its 96 pages.