James Parker at The Atlantic:
In a bone-picking mood, I will sometimes imagine that I have a problem with the English writer Philip Pullman, best known for the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. I don’t like the flavor of his frequently expressed atheism, for example; I find it peremptory, literalistic. (The idea conveyed by the great mystic Simone Weil, that “absence is the form in which God is present,” Pullman has characterized as “cheek on a colossal scale.”) And I don’t like his polemical sideswipes at J. R. R. Tolkien: “There isn’t a character in the whole of Lord of the Rings who has a tenth of the complexity … of even a fairly minor character from Middlemarch.” In fact, now that I think about it, these are two sides of the same coin. Just as it seems like bad manners not to send the odd beam of gratitude, however agnostic, back into the heart of light and the source of your own being, so does it feel ungracious when Pullman bashes one of the prime creators of the imaginative space in which he himself—as a best-selling fantasy author—is operating.