This book is slightly more mature than Lyra's and Will's origin stories. It is much longer, at 518 pages, and is much denser. The Golden Compass was exhausting. The Subtle Knife was not. Here, it gets right back to being exhausting. In fact, The Golden Compass looks easy if you try to read this. Though extremely exhausting, this book is still a rich and captivating story. This book is full of philosophical drama, and is very heavy on the atheist themes. *SPOILERS* It is now said that God is truly evil, and a liar. He did not create the world is this book. It may be even more shocking to find out that God is portrayed as mortal. He is now decrepit and weak, and eventually passes away. It is said that Heaven is a lie, and people really go to the world of the dead, a miserable prison camp. Will and Lyra set the ghosts free, as oblivion is a much better place than the dark, gross world of the dead. The part where Will and Lyra rescue the ghosts is actually full of positive behavior. A priest is sent to kill Lyra, the second Eve, but is killed. Lyra does Fall, and it turns out to be a good thing. Dr. Malone says that "the Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all." This line could be considered Anti-Christian. However, I like to consider the themes pro-atheist instead. The Narnia series is considered Pro-Christian, not anti-atheist. This series should be thought of as pro-atheist, not Anti-Christian. Plus, the story can appreciated for things other than the philosophical atheist themes. Like the other two books, there is a lot of violence here. However, it is not as disturbing as it is in The Subtle Knife. Will kills an angel towards the beginning, but it was not graphic. A village appears to have been damaged by a flood. Gallivespians, tiny people with spurs on their heels, dig their poisonous spurs into people, causing extreme pain and/or death. The Church creates a bomb that was meant to kill Lyra wherever she was, but failed. The bomb creates an abyss, which Lyra falls into, but is rescued by a harpy. Lyra's parents, who have reformed, wrestle God's Regent into the abyss, leading to the death of all three of them. Before wrestling him into the abyss, Lyra's parents assault God's Regent, and it is pretty disturbing. Lyra's mother digs into his eyes, and her father grabs his wings. God's Regent, whose name is Metatron, is fairly unhurt, but Lyra's parents are pretty damaged, her father's eyes being filled with blood. Lyra and Will must leave their daemons behind when they enter the world of the dead, causing extreme pain. When they return, they are able to walk away from their daemons unhurt, but their daemons shun them for a while. An angel pulls away a man's daemon, cause him extreme pain. The man jumps at the angel, but falls on a rock and breaks his skull. The angel then grabs the man's head and holds it underwater until he drowns. After killing the man, the angel himself dies. The man's body is eaten by a fat lizard. A dying angel begins to go crazy before dissolving. A man once kills a giant bird. Villages are often raided by the same giant birds, and are devastated after being raided. There is slightly more sexual content in this book than in the other two. Lyra and Will fall in love, and kiss a few times, but not much. Lyra puts a fruit in Will's mouth. Lyra and Will touch each other's daemons in a sexual way. Lyra has sexual feelings, but they are described in a tame way. However, the descriptions of her sexual feelings were censored in American versions, so you may want to read the British edition (it is really not inappropriate). Some people complain that Will and Lyra have sex. They do not! They just sleep in each other's arms. I see how people might think that they have sex, but they do not! Angels are said to be naked. Like in the second, the nudity of the angels is handled innocently. The most disturbing sexual part is with Metatron, the main villain. Metatron was an angel that used to be a man with many wives, and says that he loved their flesh. He tells Ms. Coulter that he wants her flesh. As Lee Scoresby is dead, there is no language. There is a scene where Will meets a Russian priest, who makes him drink vodka, and Will hates the taste. Lyra is held captive by her mother. She is drugged, but is rescued by Will and woken up. *SPOILERS END HERE* Unlike many young adult books, this one contains a gay couple. Though it is not explicitly stated that they were gay, the two angels Balthamos and Baruch are obviously gay. Baruch is very kind, and he forgives Balthamos when he acts petty (which he does fairly frequently). Baruch's kindness helps Balthamos be a better person. Lyra is still a strong heroine. The Subtle Knife focused mainly on Will, but this book focuses equally on both Lyra and Will. Parents should know that this book has a very sad ending that may upset younger readers. As well-written and enthralling as the first two, this concluding novel is best for kids aged 12 and up.