The Subtle Knife

(Scholastic, 1997; USA, Knopf, 1997)

When it came to The Subtle Knife, I’d already found a way of working at the drawings, and I began them with great pleasure. But (in the UK edition, anyway) there was something else I wanted to add to this book. Because the story moves between different worlds, I thought it might be helpful for the readers to have unobtrusive running-heads on each page, saying ‘Lyra’s world’ or ‘Will’s world’, or whatever. But the editor Liz Cross had a better idea: do it with little drawings. So I thought of a hornbeam tree to represent Will’s world, the alethiometer for Lyra’s, a (subtle) knife for the world of Cittàgazze, and so on. And I thought it would be a good idea not to explain them, because it would be fun for readers to work out for themselves what the symbols meant and why they were there.

The Subtle Knife

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