"Once Upon a Time in the North" is really interesting as it a fast-paced tale of an incredible adventure and an unlikely friendships between a stubborn young man, his sarcastic daemon and a loyal Svalbard bear.
I adored another glimpse of my beloved Iorek Byrnison (or, as Lee Scoresby would say: York Burningson). Iorek is one of my favorite characters in Pullman's star woven trilogy - I guess I do share Lyra's weird fascination with the Armoured Bears.
This is such a fun little story with a perfect flavour of sweet remembrance and new acquaintances. It involves politics, false appearances, ignorance and friendship. And oh, it is set in 'Novy Odense' an entirely fictional city in Pullman's bewitching universe - Nyborg in Denmark is mentioned as well. As I am a Dane and actually live in Odense I really enjoyed these references.
I liked "Once Upon a Time in the North" far better than "Lyra's Oxford". The plot has more depth, more substance and it feels relevant. But my critique remains the same: the book is too short to even be categorized as a book, and there's so much unfilled potential. It feels too abrupt, too rushed.