I apologize but I had to do some editing with the 45 word first sentence for the subject line. Here's the entire text:
"In a valley shaded with rhododendrons, close to the snow line, where a stream milky with meltwater splashed and where doves and linnets flew among the immense pines, lay a cave, half-hidden by the crag above and the stiff heavy leaves that clustered below."
Philip Pullman is very good at building a clear picture for the reader of the many worlds and many settings he has created. He is the most masterful in The Amber Spyglass, the third and final volume of the His Dark Materials series. He introduces radically different species to us and yet makes them somehow familiar and comfortable. I anticipated a much more emotional response to this book based on other people's reviews but I have to admit that I didn't shed a single tear because I felt that everything resolved just as it was supposed to. This book follows Lyra and Will through the final stage of their journey toward destiny.
The Amber Spyglass relied the most on Catholic dogma for its plot and characters so I think it would have been helpful to have been a bit more familiar with those precepts. (I had previously only heard of Metatron through the Kevin Smith movie Dogma. Not exactly an educational source, is it?) Regardless, I really enjoyed this series and the book. It certainly questioned --and perhaps tried to disprove-- religion but I don't see that children or young adults reading this book would have any real concept of that. When I read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as a child, I had no idea that it was analogous to Christianity. I will certainly suggest it to Z when he is of an age to be interested in books like this.
Sad to see the end of the series,
Buy The Amber Spyglass on Amazon or find it at your local library.