The never-before-published Serpentine sequel to His Dark Materials will finally come to the masses.
His Dark Materials
Credit: HBO

In 2004, Philip Pullman, author of the Dark Materials trilogy of fantasy novels, quietly penned another sequel story for his beloved series. It was called Serpentine and it told of Lyra as a teenager. It would never be read by the masses, except for the two winners of the charity auction it was written for. On Thursday, to mark the 25th anniversary of Pullman's very first novel set in this multiverse, The Golden Compass, the writer announced the never-before-seen tale will finally be published.

“Why are we publishing this story now?" Pullman began in a statement. "Because with the development of The Book of Dust, especially after the events described in The Secret Commonwealth, we can see a change in the way Lyra understands herself, and her relationship with Pantalaimon, which is prefigured in this little Arctic episode. When I wrote Serpentine, I had no idea that I was going on to write another trilogy, showing Lyra as an adult, but she and her world wouldn’t leave me alone. When it comes to human affairs, a billion invisible filaments connect us to our own pasts, as well as to the most remote things we can imagine; and I hope that, above all, these books are about being alive and being human.”

Oscar-winning actress Olivia Colman (The Favourite, The Crown) will also narrate the audiobook version of Serpentine, which will drop in hardcover and eBook formats later this year on Oct. 15.

The Golden Compass was published in 1995 in the U.K. under the title The Northern Lights. The book told of Lyra, an orphan girl from a parallel world to our own—one where a person's soul resides outside their body as a talking animal companion. Armed with a magical truth-telling artifact called an alethiometer, Lyra is thrust on a journey across her world to find the children who've gone missing in her city and to learn all she can about a mysterious particle called Dust. Along with sequel novels The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, they make up His Dark Materials. HBO and BBC are currently adapting these books as a television series, which stars Logan breakout Dafne Keen as Lyra, It Chapter Two actor James McAvoy as her uncle Lord Asriel, The Affair's Ruth Wilson as the treacherous Mrs. Coulter, and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as balloonist Lee Scoresby.

Over the years, Pullman expanded the stories of these characters with multiple shorter companion novels, such as Once Upon a Time in the North (about a younger Lee and the fierce panserbjørn known as Iorek Byrnison). The Book of Dust is Pullman's latest trilogy, which has already published the first two installments: La Belle Sauvage and The Secret Commonwealth.

Serpentine takes place after the events of the Dark Materials trilogy but before The Secret Commonwealth. In the story, Lyra returns to Trollesund, the port town where she first met Iorek and Lee during the events of The Golden Compass.

According to a formal description, "Lyra and Pan are older and a little wiser, and in search of an answer to a shocking, secret condition—their ability to separate—from the witch-consul, Dr. Lanselius. What unfolds is a tender, revelatory scene that foreshadows Lyra's future struggles as a young woman, and provides insight into Pullman's own early exploration of a previously unthinkable plot development that would emerge in his The Book of Dust sequence: the idea that a human's bond with their daemon can be irreparably broken."

Also marking the 25th anniversary of The Golden Compass, season 2 of His Dark Materials will premiere sometime later this year, and Nov. 3 will see the publication of two new editions of Pullman books: paperback of The Secret Commonwealth and an HBO tie-in edition of The Subtle Knife. The events chronicled in The Subtle Knife serve as the basis for the show's second season.

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