Some brief thoughts; I shall collect my thoughts on the trilogy as a whole in my review of The Amber Spyglass
On the whole I found The Subtle Knife
a pleasant, if somewhat chaotic continuation of the lines set out in Northern Lights
. Pullman's concepts in this trilogy require a greater web of plot than had been set out in the first instalment, so naturally many new elements are introduced in this one. Sadly, also because this is the shortest of the three novels, it felt a bit pushy at times, with less room for character development - though Will is finely laid out.
All the same, the book does its job: getting me to the final, climactic part 3 fast. It's too bad it falls victim to an ailment that sometimes plagues the middle parts of trilogies: it pales between the sheer wonder of being introduced in a well-wrought world in part 1, and the epic joy of seeing a story brought to its conclusion in part 3.