Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, a trilogy of novels that includes 1995's Northern Lights (published in the U.S. as The Golden Compass), 1997's The Subtle Knife, and 2000's The Amber Spyglass, is one of the most acclaimed fantasy sagas of the last two decades, a complex tale of extradimensional adventures, witches, talking polar bears and more that's also a meditation on faith, magic and the soul. In the years since the trilogy ended, Pullman has continued writing about the His Dark Materials universe, publishing the short novels Lyra's Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North in 2003 and 2008, respectively, and for the last six years fans have eagerly awaited The Book of Dust, a large companion book to the series that Pullman's been working on amid other projects for quite some time.
For many fans, the wait for The Book of Dust has proved rather excruciating, as it promises to be a very substantial return to the His Dark Materials world. We still don't have it, and Pullman recently said that, though he plans to do his best to finish the book by next year, the earliest we'll get to read it will likely be 2016. Now, though, we have something to tide us over.
Yesterday, Pullman released The Collectors, a new story set in the alternate Oxford of His Dark Materials, available exclusively in audio format to members of Audible.com. Narrated by Bill Nighy, the story is set "nearly 50 years ago," and follows one of the more villainous characters in His Dark Materials, Marisa Coulter.
“I thought it would be nice to show her as a younger woman, in a different sort of context,” Pullman said. “And the idea of collectors and collecting things, of being greedy, is a fascinating psychological state.”
You can access The Collectors right now if you're an Audible member, and if you're not you can try their free trial. If you'd rather not do either of those things, though, fear not. The story will reportedly be available to people who aren't Audible members next year.