Thirty-five years before Lyra Belacqua stumbled into his life in The Golden Compass, Lee Scoresby won a hot-air balloon in a poker game. Off he goes to the Arctic looking for work and adventure. Adventure he finds; whether or not you consider what he’s doing work, I don’t know. Oh, and he meets Iorek Byrnison for the first time.
If you read Pullman only for the theology and eschatology, don’t bother with this one; there’s not much to it. It’s a straightforward story, fun and short. Enjoy it for what it is, and don’t look for anything more.
Oh, and it comes with a game, and that’s pretty damn cool.